May 29, 2013 – Washington, D.C. – Today, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) – a body of the United Nations established to prosecute serious crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia – convicted six Bosnian Croat political and military leaders for war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.
Jadranko Prlic, the former leader of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) – the official military formation of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, an unrecognized entity in BiH during the Bosnian war – received the longest sentence of 25 years in prison. Also sentenced for crimes against humanity and war crimes were five additional high ranking military and political figures – Bruno Stojic, Milivoj Petkovic, Valentin Coric, Slobodan Praljak and Berislav Pusic.
The three judge panel concluded that the Bosnian Croat leadership along with Croat leaders intended to carve out BiH in order to create a "greater Croatia." This objective was to be completed through the ethnic cleansing of the non-Croat population by the HVO forces. The Chamber also concluded that "in the majority of cases, these crimes were not committed in a random manner by a few undisciplined soldiers. On the contrary, they were the result of a plan put together by the joint criminal enterprise members to remove the Muslim population of Herceg-Bosna".
The presiding judges also confirmed that the Bosnian Croat forces carried out one of the most signature acts of cultural vandalism of the entire Bosnian war by destroying the famous "Old Bridge" in the city of Mostar. The bridge, considered one of BiH's most recognizable landmarks, stood for 427 years over the Neretva River before being destroyed in 1993.
ACBH commends the work of the ICTY and remembers all of the victims that lost their lives due to the cruel and inhumane acts that were perpetrated by individuals such as those found guilty by the ICTY. ACBH strongly believes that justice is the only path towards a democratic and prosperous Southeast Europe.
To read the judgment summary by the ICTY please click here.
ACBH is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of Bosnian Americans and works to improve relations between the United States and BiH. ACBH advocates for a democratic, multiethnic, and indivisible BiH with a primary goal of advancing the integration of BiH into the EU and NATO.