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BiH: War crimes suspect arrested and soon tried

09.04.2014 ( Last modified: 12.07.2017 )

The French police have arrested Bosnian Serb citizen Radomir Šušnjar, a former member of a paramilitary group in Bosnia, wanted for war crimes. TRIAL led an investigation on this case since 2012, located the suspect and informed the French and Bosnian authorities. The arrest was carried out on April 4 at the request of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities.

War crimes comitted in Višegrad

The Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office stated that Šušnjar is suspected of taking part in the June 1992 killing of 59 Bosniak civilians in Pionirskastreet in the eastern town of Višegrad. Victims -mostly children, women and elderly- were locked into a house, which was then set on fire. Those who attempted to flee were shot at.

The killings in Višegrad were carried out by Serb forces on the local Bosniak population during the war. The Hague Tribunal already sentenced several Bosnian Serbs to decades in prison for the Višegrad killing spree. Among them, the paramilitary group leader Milan Lukić,has been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2009 for the commission of crimes against humanity.

A step forward for justice

Šušnjar was one of the very last one alleged author of these crimes not been brought to justice yet. His arrest is an important victory for the victims from Visegrad.

In a public statement, the prosecutor’s office said that “Šušnjar’s arrest is a clear message to all war crimes suspects that the Bosnian prosecutor’s office and police agencies will find and prosecute suspects wherever they hide, all in the interest of the rule of law, peace and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina“.

According to TRIAL, this significant news confirms a widespread Bosnian saying that justice is slow, but reachable: “This arrest recalls that perpetrators of the most serious war crimes who still enjoy impunity outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina won’t escape justice, be it through their arrest and extradition to BiH, or their prosecution under universal jurisdiction.“, said Adrijana Hanušić, TRIAL legal advisor in BiH.

Šušnjar should “soon” be extradited to Bosnia to stand trial. He could face charges of crimes against humanity and a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Context

More than 100,000 people were killed during the Bosnian war, which also turned half of the country’s population of 4.3 million into refugees.

TRIAL has been working along with victims of war crimes in BiH since 2008, by providing them with legal assistance both at the local and international level. To date, TRIAL represented more than 230 victims by filing over 80 proceedings before international bodies (European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee) and national bodies and contributed to the submission of 50 cases to the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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