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Croatia high court upholds lawmaker's war crimes conviction

The Supreme Court of Croatia [official website, in Croatian] on Friday upheld the conviction [judgment, PDF; in Croatian] of former Parliament [official website] member Branimir Glavas [JURIST news archive], but reduced his sentence by two years. Glavas was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison [JURIST report] in 2009 for ordering the torture and death of Croatian Serbs in the town of Osijek in 1991 during the Serbo-Croatian War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. In confirming the decision of the lower court but reducing the sentence, the Supreme Court held that the war crimes counts of which Glavas was convicted should have been one count instead of two. The court rejected the prosecutor's arguments seeking a higher sentence for Glavas, which could have been as high as 20 years under the charges against him. The court also reduced the sentences of three of Glavas' co-defendants. Glavas has maintained his innocence [AFP report] throughout the proceedings, stating that the convictions are politically motivated. Glavas' lawyer has promised to appeal the decision to the Constitutional Court [official website].

A Bosnian state court refused to extradite Glavas [JURIST report] to Croatia to serve a sentence for war crimes in 2009. Glavas, who holds dual Bosnian and Croatian citizenship, fled to Bosnia to avoid serving his sentence. Shortly after fleeing Croatia in an effort to avoid the sentence, Glavas was arrested on an Interpol warrant in Bosnia. In 2008, Glavas was stripped of his parliamentary immunity [JURIST report] so that lawyers could proceed with his prosecution in Croatia. Glavas is a former prominent member of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union [party website, in Croatian], and was re-elected [JURIST report] to office under the new parliament during the Croatia's November 2007 elections. Glavas staged a 40-day hunger strike in 2006 when he was detained [JURIST report] after the criminal investigation against him initially opened. rder of two Serbs in a separate incident in Osijek.

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