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Vukovic case, Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 13 August 2008
Date of decision :
Judicial organ :
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Section I for War Crimes, Panel of the Appellate Division
http://www.worldcourts.com/wcsbih/eng/decisions/2008.08.13_Prosecutors_Office_of_BiH_v_Vukovic.pdf (last accessed on 23.09.2013)
On 13 August 2008, the Appellate Panel of Section I for War Crimes acquitted the accused -a member of the military forces of the so-called Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina - of the charges of war crimes against civilians.
The first-instance Court had ruled that the accused, acting contrary to the rules of international humanitarian law, had forcefully held sexual relations with a detainee, violating Article 3 (1)(a) and (c) and Article 27 (2) of the 4th Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, and Article 173 (1) (c) and (e) of the Criminal Code of BiH. Mr. Vukovic was then sentenced to five years and six months of imprisonment.
The Appellate Panel firstly argued, in reversing the decision of the first-instance Court, that an armed conflict was underway when the act was committed, and that sexual intercourse had indeed taken place between the accused and the victim, in the period between 10 June 1992 and late August 1992, in the Foca municipality. This had further resulted in pregnancy and childbirth. The accused was proved to be the biological father of the newborn child.
The Appellate Panel, however, then considered that there was not sufficient evidence to convict the accused for rape, questioning the validity of the alleged victim's testimony and that of her sister, arguing they had imperilled their own credibility when some of their statements were found to be inconsistent. According to the Panel, "the testimony of the injured party must not raise any suspicion as to its exactness and truthfulness, credibility and integrity of the witness exactly because the act of rape, as a rule, is never attended by a witness who might decisively support the testimony of the injured party [...] However, having carefully analyzed the injured party's testimony, the Panel noted a whole range of unacceptable inconsistencies and lack of logic in her description of the event." Not convinced that the evidence and testimonies proved the charges beyond reasonable doubt, and in application of the principle of
in dubio pro reo
, Mr. Vukovic was acquitted on all counts.
Vukovic case - Decision of 13 August 2008.pdf
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