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Criminal proceeding against Ćazim Berić accused for war crimes against civilian population under Article 120, paragraph 1 OKZ RH.

On 21st January 2016 the Rijeka County Court found Ćazim Behrić guilty for war crimes against civilian population and sentenced him to 4 years of prison.
He was charged with war crimes committed from 11th June 1994 to 13th August 1994 against civilians detained in the Drmeljevo camp, Velika Kladuša (Bosnia and Herzegovina): civilians, among them children, women, pregnant women, disabled persons, men of all age. He was also charged with rape of a detained woman. Under inhuman conditions, the accused and his guards abused detainees physically and psychologically, insulted them, deprived them of medical assistance, because they were considered the enemies of the so-called the self-proclaimed Autonomous Region of Western Bosnia. In 2002 before the Karlovac County Court Fikret Abdić was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years of prison for ordering, planning, organizing and establishing several detention camps in the area of Velika Kladuša, where at least 5000 persons were detained.

After the verdict the defendant Ćazim Behrić was released from investigative detention. In determining the sentence the fact that he has no previous criminal record was taken into account as attenuating circumstance, as well as his position of Director of Drmeljevo detention camp in relation to his subordinates. Therefore he was sentenced to a prison sentence below mandatory minimum. The Court ordered that the defendant cover the trial expenses (5.000 kunas) and witnesses expenses (17.000 kunas). In the legal system of justice, the hierarchy of the severity of crime becomes visible when we talk about the years that the perpetrators should serve in prison. The victims see this as the equivalent to the acknowledgement given by the society for the violence they suffered. Therefore small sentences for rape and sexual abuse also mean the lack of acknowledgement of the severity of the crime of rape, as war crime.

The trial against the defendant Ćazim Behrić started on 13th March 2015, and some of the witnesses were questioned before the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The procedure is the result of cooperation between the Special Department for War Crimes of The Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia. The defendant was arrested in February 2014 in Vojnić, Croatia, where he was living at the time. During the investigation, as well as during the hearing, he was in investigative detention, based on the Article123, Item 1, of the 2008 Criminal Procedure Code (danger of flight), since the defendant has dual citizenship of the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


In the indictment it is alleged that Ćazim Berić from 11 June 1994 to 12 August 1994 in Velika Kladusa (Bosnia and Herzegovina) detained civilians, in particular, children, women, a pregnant woman, a disabled person, and men from all ages. They were kept  in inhuman conditions where the accused and his subordinates tortured them, insulted them and withdrew them from receiving medical care. The indictment also alleges that the accused raped one woman.

During the investigations against the accused Ćazim Berić he was detained in the investigative prison, according to Article 123, paragraph 1, point 1 ZKP/08 ( light risk) because the accused is in possesion of dual citizenship, namely he has the citizenship of the Republic of Croatia and the citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina.