Bosnian Ex-Policeman Appeals Conviction for Illegal Detentions

Former police chief Ibro Merkez's defence asked the appeals chamber of the Bosnian state court on Monday to reverse the original verdict and acquit him of unlawfully detaining Serb civilians in Gorazde and treating them inhumanely between the middle of July 1992 and August 4 the same year.

The prosecution also appealed, calling for Merkez, the former chief of the Public Security Station in Gorazde, and his co-defendant, former Gorazde policeman Esef Huric, to be convicted on all counts in the indictment.

Huric and another former policeman in Gorazde, Predrag Bogunic, were both acquitted under the first-instance verdict in October 2019.

But the prosecution argued that the first-instance judges did not take into account the testimonies of all the witnesses and gave priority to defence witnesses, and complained that some of the detained civilians were not mentioned at all in the verdict.

The prosecution also complained about the length of Merkez's sentence, arguing that it should have been longer.

The first-instance verdict found that Merkez executed an unlawful order issued by the war presidency of Gorazde on July 9, 1992, ordering the round-up of the local Serb population. He selected four apartments where 70 civilians, including children and sick people, were detained in poor conditions.

The verdict determined that Merkez had the authority to improve these conditions but failed to do so, contributing to the inhumane treatment of the detainees.

The court decided to impose a sentence below the legal minimum because Merkez had no previous convictions, is elderly, and objected to the unlawful order to detain the Serbs. He also allowed the civilians to leave the apartments and allowed for food to be delivered to them.


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