Bosnians Acquitted of War Crimes Get €1.5m Compensation

A total of 3,032,671 Bosnian marks (1,552,550 euros) has been paid out in compensation in cases won by 44 people who sued the Bosnian state court for damages for the amount of time they spent in custody while standing trial for war crimes before being acquitted, BIRN has learned.
The news has sparked criticism of state-level judges and prosecutors and calls for them to be held to higher standards.
Ruzica Jukic, the vice-president of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, the country’s judicial overseer, said that there should be an investigation into whether anyone should be blamed for the fact that so much state money has been paid out after the acquittal verdicts.
“The Bosnian state prosecution or individuals working at that institution, who have given rise to these things, must be held liable,” Jukic told BIRN.
“Each individual case should be investigated and reported to a disciplinary prosecutor, or else it will look like a lack of seriousness. Verdicts of acquittal can be pronounced for many reasons. However, when they file indictments that are bad from the very beginning, they should be subjected to an assessment,” she added.
Vasvija Vidovic, a veteran lawyer from Sarajevo, argued that “someone must be held responsible” for the problem and that prosecutors’ and judges’ competence should be reassessed.
“These are complex cases that require the application of international laws, but the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina is failing to apply many international standards. What we see now is the consequence of such actions,” Vidovic said.
Federal prosecutor Munib Halilovic, who previously worked on war crime cases with the state prosecution, said he believes that suspects are held in custody longer than necessary.
“That is not always necessary and they can often apply less strict measures,” Halilovic said.
“On the other hand, in some cases custody is the only measure. People without places of residence or those who put pressure on witnesses must be held in detention,” he added.
However, he cautioned that “it is not realistic to expect each and every defendant to be convicted”. 
Four more lawsuits over compensation claims for a total amount of 399,403 Bosnian marks (204,470 euros) are still ongoing before the state court, while a request for compensation has been rejected in another case.