The Serb-dominated Bosnian entity of Republika Srpska and its biggest city of Banja Luka were ordered to pay 32.4 million euros to Bosnia’s Islamic Community as compensation for destroying 16 religious sites, including mosques and shrines, during the 1992-95 war.
Banja Luka’s Main Court announced the first instance ruling on Friday afternoon, but over the weekend Bosnian Serb officials already said they would appeal and overturn the decision.
Republika Srpska deputy Public Attorney Dragan Spasojevic said the ruling was expected since the judge, Sunita Sukalo, was obviously favoring the prosecution, adding that the case should be dropped since only the Banja Luka city Islamic Community had the right to file a lawsuit for events in Banja Luka, not the central Bosnian Islamic Community.
The Islamic Community’s lawyer, Esad Hrvacic, said his side was content with the verdict. The lawsuit claimed the authorities failed to prevent the destruction of the mosques and shrines which were blown up between April and September 1993, always overnight during a police curfew, when only the police, fire department and the ambulance service was allowed to be on the streets.
The lawsuit was filed in 2000 but it took the local court in Banja Luka until April 2008 to schedule a trial that ended in December 2008. The Islamic Community in Bosnia says over 1,000 Muslim monuments of various kinds were either destroyed or damaged by Bosnian Serbs during the war.