The accused Petar Čivčić and Branko Topola have been acquitted of the charges of committing the criminal offense of Crimes against Humanity in violation of Article 172(1)(h) – by way of persecution. The accused have been acquitted because the Prosecution has failed to prove that the accused committed the criminal offense charged.
The accused Saša Zečević, Radoslav Knežević and Marinko Ljepoja have been found guilty because they, in the period between the end of April 1992 and the end of September 1992, as part of a widespread and systematic attack of the Army and Police of the Serb Republic of BiH (and subsequently of the Republika Srpska) directed against the Bosniak and Croat population of Prijedor Municipality, with knowledge of that attack and that their acts constituted part of that attack, Saša Zečević and Radoslav Knežević, as police officers of the Prijedor Public Security Station /PSS/, Marinko Ljepoja, as a reserve police officer of the Prijedor PSS, all members of the 1st Prijedor Police Intervention Platoon Squad, persecuted the Bosniak population of Prijedor Municipality on ethnic and religious grounds by way of murders and by way of robbing. On 21 August 1992, the accused, together with other members of the 1st Intervention Platoon Squad, were present during the boarding and escort of a convoy transporting around 1,200 Bosniak civilians from Prijedor Municipality towards Travnik. During the ride, some armed members of escort, including the accused Marinko Ljepoja, robbed Bosniak civilians on the convoy of their money, gold and other valuables. After the convoy stopped by the Ilomska rivulet (a tributary of the Ugar River) on the Vlašić Mountain, around 200 male civilians were separated from the convoy, and the escort, including the accused Zečević, Knežević and Ljepoja, knowing that the civilians were separated to be killed, took them to Korićanske stijene site on the Vlašić Mountain and there, in the presence of the accused Zečević, Knežević and Ljepoja, the men were taken out of a bus, lined up on the road above an abyss and shot at by armed members of escort, including Saša Zečević. Some of the civilians jumped into the abyss to save their lives. In this manner, the accused Zečević, Knežević and Ljepoja participated/made a decisive contribution to the killings of about 200 male civilians.
A person shall be considered innocent of a crime until guilt has been established by a final Verdict. (Article 3 of the CPC BiH)
A First Instance Panel makes a decision on the basis of the evidence which was presented at the trial by the Prosecution and the Defence. The First Instance Panel does not establish the substantive truth but pronounces its Verdict based on the evidence at trial which must be established beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a guilty Verdict to occur.
This Verdict is not final. This Verdict may be appealed and an Appeal shall be reviewed by the Appellate Division of the Court. An Appeal may contain new evidence if the parties to the proceedings and the defence prove that they were not able to present it during the First Instance Proceedings.
Respect for the principle of the presumption of innocence is an integral part of the right to a fair trial. It is recommended that commentary on a First Instance Panel’s Decision not occur until a final Decision is issued. Opinions and information relating to an ongoing criminal proceeding should only be communicated or disseminated when it does not prejudice the presumption of innocence of the Suspect or the Accused. (Appendix to Recommendation Rec (2993)13 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of 10 July 2003)
Should there be commentary on the Decision, it is recommended to obtain any needed additional information from the authorized spokesperson of the Court. It is further recommended that any commentary also include the opinions of knowledgeable legal scholars and practitioners.