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Bosnia court rejects request to re-arrest Serbs convicted of war crimes

On Thursday the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) [official website] rejected [press release] a request by prosecutors to re-arrest nine individuals convicted of war crimes. The court ruled that since Bosnian law does not contain provisions for the re-arrest of someone already convicted of a crime, the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF] requires [AP report] the issue to be resolved in favor of the Bosnian Serb suspects. Six of the nine men were convicted of genocide in relation to the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre [JURIST news archive] of over 1,000 Muslims during the 1992-95 Bosnian Civil War [JURIST news archive], but they were released [JURIST report] last month due to procedural errors. The European Court of Human Rights [official website] had ruled that Bosnian judges violated the rights of the suspects by imposing a harsher criminal code than the one in place at the time the offenses occurred.

Investigations of war crimes relating to the Bosnian-Serbian conflict are still ongoing and suspects are still being arrested and prosecuted. Eight new war crimes suspects related to the war were arrested [JURIST report] in October and have been accused of participation in looting and the forced expulsion and killing of several individuals. Procedural difficulties in maintaining convictions of the alleged war criminals, however, have not been uncommon. Earlier in October the BiH reopened [JURIST report] criminal proceedings in a similar case, granting a motion for retrial based on an identical principle, namely the imposition of a harsher criminal code than the one in place at the time of the acts. In August a prominent former police chief was sentenced [JURIST report] to 14 years in prison after being convicted of crimes against humanity committed during the war. The BiH handed down [JURIST report] its first convictions related to the Srebrenica massacre in 2008.

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