(E) Croatian Gen. Tihomir Blaskic's Conviction Dismissed
Bosnian Croat Conviction Dismissed
It is time to celebrate only on personal level (wife, friends etc). On the government level it's time to protest heavily. How can that happen? Most likely Blaskic was in prison for 8.5 years more than he should. Priority in this case as well in most of such cases is: WHO WILL PAY for this? Who will pay for WAR REPARATIONS to Croatia? If someone has been charged with so-called "command responsibility''... where is the command responsibility in Hague? Are the prosecutors who imprisoned an innocent man responsible for this... and what is the punishment? Promotion? And how much is worth someone's imprisonment for 8.5 years, plus humiliation. I would say A LOT. If I was president of Croatia, this would be my first priority, how to get WAR REPARATIONS and how to create civil society where value is placed on law and not just public perception, that is so easily manipulated. Everywhere.
The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - An appeals panel at the U.N. war crimes tribunal on Thursday dismissed the conviction of a Bosnian Croat for crimes against Muslims in 1993 and reduced his sentence to nine years from 45 years.
Gen. Tihomir Blaskic, 43, has spent more than eight years in prison for ordering an ethnic cleansing campaign against Muslim villages in central Bosnia that left hundreds dead and forced tens of thousands more to flee.
Blaskic voluntarily surrendered to the U.N. court on April 1, 1996. At the time, his sentence was the harshest in the tribunal's history.
In a sweeping rejection of the lower court's conclusions, the five-member appeals panel said the court had misinterpreted the law and punished Blaskic unfairly for the crimes of forces under his authority. It quashed both the earlier ruling and sentence.
The panel did find him guilty of lesser crimes of illegal detainment and inhumane treatment of prisoners.
The defendant will be released after serving the remaining few months of the nine-year sentence. He can also apply for early release.
In a two-hour reading at the Yugoslav tribunal, presiding judge Fausto Pocar of Italy dismissed 16 of 19 counts in Blaskic's initial indictment.
In March 2000, Blaskic was found guilty of so-called ``command responsibility'' at the peak of the 1992-1992 Bosnian war, including crimes against humanity and grave breeches of the Geneva Convention. But those convictions were thrown out on Thursday.
Among the most severe crimes dropped against Blaskic were a series of massacres in the village of Ahmici in April 1993 that killed dozens.
``The appeals chamber considered that the trial chamber's assessment was wholly erroneous'' and that it had not been ``proven beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant is responsible for ordering the crimes in Ahmici and neighboring villages on April 16, 1993.''
It upheld three counts of grave breeches of the Geneva Convention related to the imprisonment of Muslims at a series of camps in Bosnia where detainees were forced to dig trenches, build fences and used as human shields during shelling by enemy forces.
Outside the court, Blaskic's wife, Ratka, and his children said they were overjoyed.
The appeals chamber said that in setting a new sentence it had taken into account Blaskic good behavior, clear prior record, poor health, voluntary surrender and his young children.
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.