Former Bosnian Army soldier Edin Dzeko was jailed for 12 years over the killings of six Croat fighters and a civilian couple in the village of Trusina near Konjic in 1993.
The court in Sarajevo on Friday convicted Dzeko, a former member of the Bosnian Army’s Zulfikar Squad, of involvement in the execution of six Croatian Defence Council fighters and the murder of a married couple during an attack on Trusina on April 16, 1993.
He was jailed for ten years over the killings of the Croat fighters who had been detained by the Bosnian Army.
Presiding judge Saban Maksumic said that the witnesses’ statements were clear and convincing.
“They had no reason to accuse the defendant without any grounds,” Maksumic said.
He cited the testimony of one prosecution witness, Rasema Handanovic, a former member of the Zulfikar Squad who was also jailed for crimes committed during the Trusina attack who said that she saw the Dzeko during the execution.
“Rasema Handanovic said that Dzeko was standing at her right side when the shooting began,” he said.
The court did not accept the prosecution’s claim that the fighters who were killed were civilians, or the claim that Dzeko could not have participated in the execution because he had driven some of his wounded comrades out of Trusina before it happened.
“The chamber established that he participated in the transportation of the wounded, but that he was also present during the very act of the execution,” Maksumic said.
Dzeko was also sentenced to seven years in prison for killing married couple Ilija and Andja Ivankovic in Trusina, and the court ordered a combined sentence of 12 years for both convictions.
However Dzeko was acquitted of the illegal arrest and detention of Croatian civilians at the Zulfikar Squad’s base in Donja Jablanica in September 1993, as well as beatings and looting in the town of Jablanica in the second half of 1993.
The judge explained that Dzeko, as an ordinary soldier, was obeying orders given by a military police officer who had the list of people to be arrested.
“He did not act on his own. He did not have an influence on the decision about the arrests,” Maksumic said.
Dzeko was also acquitted of taking money from victims and of ordering three other soldiers to beat a man with wooden bars and concrete blocks.
The fact that Dzeko has a family, that he was young when the crime was committed and that he acted correctly during the trial was taken into account by the court as mitigating circumstances.
His trial started in 2012 after he was extradited from the United States the previous year.
This is the second conviction so far for the crimes in Trusina. Two years ago, Rasema Handanovic was sentenced to five-and-half years in prison after she pleaded guilty to participating in the execution of six Croats.
Also on trial for the Trusina killings are Mensur Memic, Dzevad Salcin, Nedzad Hodzic and Nihad Bojadzic, all former members of the Zulfikar Squad, and Senad Hakalovic, a former Bosnian Army soldier.
Zulfikar Alispago, the commander of the Zulfikar Squad, is on trial in a separate case.