Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Guilty Verdict in Foca Camp Trial

First time Bosnian War Crimes Chamber has ruled that a joint criminal enterprise was perpetrated.
A Bosnian court this week found two Bosnian Serbs guilty of running a prison which “had all the characteristics of a concentration camp” in 1992-3.

Savo Todovic and Mitar Rasevic were convicted on all five counts of the indictment, which was transferred to Bosnia from the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, in 2006, except for two sub-counts.

Todovic was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and Rasevic to eight years for crimes against humanity committed in the prison camp at the eastern Bosnian town of Foca. Its 700 inmates were subjected to a regime of rape, torture and murder.

The two were also ruled to have taken part in a joint criminal enterprise to “imprison all non-Serbs from Foca in inhumane conditions in the correctional facility”.

This ruling is the first time that the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber has decided that a joint criminal enterprise has been perpetrated.

“The two accused had knowledge and evidence of crimes and activities that occurred inside the facility, and had a command and individual responsibility to stop and discipline perpetrators,” said Presiding Judge Hilmo Vucinic.

“When discussing the length of the sentence, the court considered the circumstances and legal practices of the ICTY in other camp trials, as well as mitigating circumstances.”

The time the defendants spent in custody will be deducted from their sentences.

A large group of victims’ family members was present at the hearing, and felt the sentences were too lenient. Several of them stormed out in fury before the end of the hearing, while others could be seen crying.

The defence teams, however, felt the sentences were too harsh. Slavisa Prodanovic, lead Council for Mitar Rasevic, claimed he was “bitter” with the decision because the Court “lacked the courage to issue an innocent verdict”.

Prodanovic vowed to appeal, saying, “More than 35 witnesses that were victims inside the correctional facility in Foca talked in superlatives about my client during their testimony, and I thought he should have been rewarded for that.”

Denis Dzidic is an IWPR reporter in Sarajevo.