Bosnia and Herzegovina: 20 years of prison for Višegrad killings

30.10.2019 ( Last modified: 30.03.2020 )

On 30 October 2019, Radomir Šušnjar, also known as “Lalco”, was found guilty for the murder of 57 Bosniaks in Višegrad, a town in the east of Serbian Republic of Bosnia. These people were burnt alive in a house in Pionirska Street in 1992. The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced this former Bosnian Serb soldier to 20 years of prison.

After the war ended, “Lalco” fled to France where he sought refuge from prosecution. © DR

“Justice has finally caught up with Radomir Šušnjar”, said Philip Grant, TRIAL International’s Executive Director. “Despite his attempts to escape it, it is now time for him to face his actions, committed more than 27 years ago.”

In June 1992, the victims, mostly women, children and elders, were locked away in a house in Pionirska Street in Višegrad, and burned alive. Those who tried to escape, were killed with guns on the spot. Only several persons survived or were able to escape the certain death.

The eight survivors, two of whom died a few years later, were able to testify before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. “Lalco” is accused of personally locking the room where the civilians were, and of setting the building on fire.

On the run for more than two decades

After the war, Šušnjar was hiding in France for many years. TRIAL International managed to track him down in 2014, and informed Bosnian and French authorities on this information, leading to his eventual extradition in June 2018. An indictment against Šušnjar was filed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2017, accusing him of acting contrary to the provisions of Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians during the War. Two years later, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina found him guilty of war crimes against the civilian population and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

TRIAL International team in BiH welcomes this verdict, despite a relatively mild sentence given the seriousness of the facts. The judgement is still a significant success in the ongoing fight against impunity for crimes committed during the war. “This outcome confirms that effective international cooperation has an important role in the process of prosecuting perpetrators of war crimes” said Berina Žutić Razić, Legal Advisor of TRIAL International in Sarajevo.

On 20 March 2020, the Appeals Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed Šušnjar’s 20-year sentence.

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