Montenegro’s civil society organisations and its Bosniak community have condemned the acquittal of nine former police officers, charged with committing a war crime against refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.The Bosniak community in Montenegro has fiercely criticised the verdict in the trial of nine policemen charged with deportation of refugees.
On Thursday, the Superior Court in Podgorica acquitted the nine policemen charged with the unlawful arrest and deportation of Bosniak and Bosnian Serb refugees from Montenegro to the wartime Bosnian Serb entity in May 1992.
The court ruled that while the arrests were illegal they did not constitute a war crime and the nine men were not party to any side in the Bosnian war.
The Bosniak Party, a coalition partner in Montenegro’s future government whose formation is still pending, described the verdict as a “farcical show of the Montenegrin judiciary“.
“This verdict has humiliated not only all Bosniaks but all the people who believe in justice and truth. Unfortunately, those who ordered the crime are still out of reach of justice and its institutions, “ reads the party’s statement.
Other representatives of Montenegro’s Bosniak minority, local NGOs and human right activists also criticised the verdict.
The Centre for Civic Education, CGO-CCE, said that it was worried that the Montenegrin courts have not confirmed any of the indictments for war crimes in the country.
The only war crime trial where the final verdict has been passed ended in the acquittal of seven former police and Yugoslav army officers charged with inhumane treatment and torture of ethnic Bosniaks and Muslims in Bukovica, Montenegro, during the Bosnian war.
Out of the three other ongoing war crime trials, only one has resulted in the first instance conviction so far.
In January, the Superior Court in Podgorica sentenced Ivo Gojnic, Spiro Lucic, Ivo Menzalin and Boro Gligic to a total of 12 years for war crimes against prisoners of war in 1991 and 1992.
There has been an international criticism of war crime trials in Montenegro.
Freedom House, a US human rights NGO, in its latest 2012 report on the country, also found that the Montenegrin judiciary is reluctant to objectively process war crimes and that top officials are not investigated.