6 Bosnian Croats appeal UN war crimes convictions

2017-03-20 18:58


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The Hague - Former Bosnian Croat wartime leader Jadranko Prlic on Monday appealed against his conviction for the murder of Muslims during the 1990s Bosnian war, denying any involvement and saying Croats were "forced" to defend themselves in the conflict.

Prlic and five other accused launched seven days of appeal hearings at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) against prison sentences ranging between 10 and 25 years.

Chain of command

Prlic was sentenced to 25 years in 2013 on charges of murdering and deporting Muslims during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war in which more than 100 000 people were killed and 2.2 million others left homeless.

Five other Bosnian Croat military and political leaders were also handed heavy prison terms by the tribunal based in The Hague, after being found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"I was not part of the chain of command," of the HVO, the main Bosnian-Croat army in Bosnia at the time, Prlic told the panel of five judges.

But Croatian communities needed to organise themselves, also militarily, "due to the unreactiveness" of the Bosnian Republic for their "defence", he said.

Even in areas where Croats were in the majority, the HVO "was the significantly smaller military force.

"The Croatian community was one of the foundations of the creation of the... Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina and not an instrument of its destruction," Prlic said.

Military officials

Judges said Prlic, now 57, "made a significant contribution to a joint criminal enterprise ... to drive out the Muslim population" from Bosnia in a bid to create a "greater Croatian state."

A former president and later also prime minister of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Croat state of Herceg-Bosna, Prlic has been on trial before the Hague-based ICTY since 2006.

His co-defendants are his former defence minister Bruno Stojic, and four senior military officials: Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic.

Read more on:    the netherlands  |  bosnia

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