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Appellate Court in Belgrade confirms lower court's judgment in Maričić case

Pursuant to its decision K Po2 1/18 of 07 July 2020, the War Crimes Department - part of the Higher Court in Belgrade declared defendant Željko Maričić guilty of the criminal offence under article 142 (1) (war crime against civilian population) of the FRY Criminal Act and sentenced him to 2 (two) years in prison.  

Defendant Maričić was found responsible for grave breaches of international law in the course of the non-international armed conflict which existed between Serb, Bosnian and Croat armed formations in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. In late May 1992, defendant Maričić - at the time soldier of the Serbian BH Republic's army - was present on the premises of Nikola Mačkić Elementary School in Ključ, where a large number of male civilians from Velagići, Pudin Han, Sanica, Krasulje and other villages in the Ključ area had been taken into custody following their unlawful arrests on the part of the Serbian BH Republic's army and police forces.  Defendant Maričić submitted the captives - including MD, MS, SD and HK - to inhumane treatment. He physically tortured the captives on the bus which drove them to the school building and continued to do so as they got off the bus and proceeded towards the building walking between two lines of soldiers. The defendant continued his campaign of terror inside the school building, where he severely beat the captives all over the body using his hands, batons and other objects, as well as kicking them with army boots, threatening and cursing them in the process. The defendant then went over to the Elementary School building in Sitnica, where the Ključ inmates had meanwhile been transferred. Addressing the the inmates, the defendant told them that they were on the Serbian land and that they would be chased out of it never to get back. As a result of such conduct on the part of the defendant, the inmates sustained great physical and mental sufferings.

In the above described circumstances, the victims were helpless and unable to offer any resistance. As he engaged in the inhumane and humiliating treatment of the captured civilians, the defendant caused them physical pain and mental suffering, as well as long-term injuries to health and bodily integrity, whereby he committed grave breaches of international law during the non-international armed conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.