Image: Bosnian Serb Dragan Sekaric
Former Bosnian Serb Army soldier Dragan Sekaric was sentenced to 14 years in prison for rape and murder in the village of Kosovo Polje in the Visegrad municipality in 1992.
Sekaric was found guilty on Friday of going to a house in Kosovo Polje in June 1992 with other Bosnian Serb soldiers and taking several civilians outside, after which he raped a woman inside the house.
He was also convicted of pushing a civilian called Fatima Jamak into a burning house on the same day, and killing her afterwards.
Presiding judge Mira Smajlovic said that the Bosnian prosecution had proved that Sekaric committed his crimes with intent and that the testimonies of the rape victim and another witness who in the village were “convincing and objective”.
“The defence challenged the credibility of witnesses S1 [the victim] and S3 [the eyewitness], considering their descriptions of a person they knew as Dragan Gorazdak differed. However, the trial chamber finds that the witnesses gave satisfactory explanations for these differences. Namely, they were in a state of fear and it is clear why they did not remember details they did not find important,” said Smajlovic.
The judge also said that Sekaric’s alibi – given by his uncle, who testified that the defendant was in Serbia – was not convincing.
Smajlovic said that while considering the 14-year sentence, the court took into account the fact that he was a family man with two children as a mitigating circumstance and the brutality of his crime as an aggravating circumstance.
The verdict however acquitted Sekaric of taking part in an attack on Kokino Selo in Gorazde, robbing and taking away a man and his son from Visegrad, both of whom were never seen again, and beating a prisoner in the Uzamnica detention camp.
Smajlovic said witness testimonies about the attack on Kokino Selo only offered “second hand and imprecise” details about Sekaric. She said that the testimony of a witness about the Visegrad incident was also not convincing.
Regarding the prisoner abuse charge, Smajlovic explained that the Bosnian prosecution had failed to call a victim to testify.
“Because of the procedural mistakes of the Bosnian prosecution and the lack of evidence, the trial chamber had no other options then to acquit the defendant of this charge,” said the judge.