The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday upheld the conviction of Sasa ?ur?i?, a former Bosnian Serb Army solider who served in the Dragan Nikolic Interventions Unit, for the rape of a woman in 1992 during the Bosnian War.
The judgment in Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v Sasa ?ur?i? was released by the Panel of the Appellate Division of the Court. ?ur?i? had appealed his conviction from the first-instance verdict released last September, which saw him sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for the rape, a crime against humanity prohibited by Article 172(1)(g) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The defense’s argument that ?ur?i?’s conviction should be quashed and a retrial ordered, claiming that the victim confused ?ur?i? and other persons, was unsuccessful. The prosecution’s argument that ?ur?i?’s five-year imprisonment sentence was insufficiently severe for the crime against humanity, given that wartime sexual violence convictions tend to carry heavier sentences, was also unsuccessful. Both appeals were rejected by the court for being unfounded.
The judgment found that in July of 1992, ?ur?i? raped a woman while he and Dragan Zelenovi?, both Bosnian Serb Army soldiers at the time, detained two other women. Zelenovi? was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for his involvement in the crimes against humanity—namely, three torture counts and four rape counts. Additional counts were dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Beyond ?ur?i? and Zelenovi?’s crimes, between 1992 and 1995 during the Bosnian War, violence permeated the country in response to Yugoslavia breaking up. According to the Center for Justice and Accountability, a non-profit human rights organization, during this time “the people of Bosnia endured a wave of ethnic violence as Serbian and Bosnian Serb armed forces launched a campaign of terror against the Bosnian Muslim population.” In 1994, as part of the war, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization used force for the first time by carrying out airstrikes. The war is estimated to have resulted in the death of more than 100,000 persons, with many others injured.
?ur?i? can appeal the second-instance verdict to the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the European Court of Human Rights, but has not publicly stated whether he plans to do so.