A court in Zagreb has decreased the sentence of a wartime Bosnian Croat commander from 21 to 12-and-a-half years in prison for crimes against humanity committed in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1993 and 1994.
Bosnia’s state court issued its second instance verdict in 2011 and Marko Radic is serving in Bosnia. However, authorities have given a green light to his request to serve his sentence in Croatia.
Judges in Zagreb have cut his sentence because the Croatian law does not recognize the concept of joint criminal enterprise which some of the charges he was convicted of in Bosnia were related to. This means that Radic, who was detained in 2006 and was supposed to stay behind bars until 2027, will be released by the end of this year.
Bosnia’s Justice Minister Josip Grubesa said earlier he had allowed Radic, who has Croatian citizenship, to continue serving his sentence in Croatia because Bosnia was a signatory to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, under which every sentenced person has the right to serve the entire or a part of their sentence in their home country.
During the early 1990s war, Radic was the commander of the 1st Bijelo Polje Battalion of the 2nd HVO Brigade. According to the sentence, he took part in the setting up of prisons, ordered the unlawful arrest of a number of Bosniak civilians, and was responsible for using men for forced labour and keeping them in brutal, humiliating and inhumane conditions.
Radic’s Bosnian lawyer, Ragib Hadzic, said the Croatian court acted in accordance with the country’s law.
The joint criminal enterprise issue was “a matter of politics, a matter of how they interpret the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the participation of Serbia and Croatia in it,” he said.
The joint criminal enterprise refers to a sentence the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) handed down against six top officials of the wartime unrecognised Bosnian Croat statelet of Herzeg Bosna (HB). The Court said that the six have, with the help of top officials in Croatia, including the Croatian wartime President, committed war crimes with the purpose “to ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims and contributed to realizing that goal.”
Croatia does not accept this definition.