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Norway trial begins for Bosnian Croat accused of 1992 war crimes against Serbs

[JURIST] A Bosnian immigrant to Norway accused of mistreating Bosnian Serbs imprisoned during the 1992-95 Bosnian war [timeline] went on trial Wednesday in Oslo, marking the start of the first war crimes trial to take place in Norway since World War II. Norwegian citizen Mirsad Repak pleaded not guilty to war crimes, crimes against humanity, rape and torture of Serbian prisoners detained in the Dretelj detention camp in 1992. According to Repak, a former member of the Croatian Defence Forces, he was following orders from superiors. If convicted, Repak could get up to 20 years in prison. BBC News has more. AFP has additional coverage.

The government of Norway [JURIST news archive] passed legislation [JURIST report] in March to expand prosecutable criminal activity to include terrorism, genocide, and war crimes. Before the law was enacted, Norwegian law did not include such crimes and any criminals suspected of acts falling under those categories were handed over to international war crimes tribunals. Repak's defense argues that the newly passed legislation cannot be applied retroactively to any crimes committed in 1992, and that the laws are thus unconstitutional. According to the government, the law was passed with a specific clause permitting application of the law to war crimes committed in the past.

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