A former Bosnian Serb soldier has been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for war crimes committed during the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital.
The defendant, Sasa Baricanin, was found guilty of murder, enslavement and rape by a war crimes court in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The court heard how he had broken into a family apartment and shot several of the residents dead, before repeatedly raping one of the females there. He then came back with a colleague and proceeded to rape her for several days.
The victim came forward to testify at the trial and was a protected witness.
"We see the verdict as an amnesty,"
said Bakira Hasecic, president of the association Women-Victims of War.
The U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallstroem, welcomed the sentencing, but noted that obtaining justice for victims of sexual violence has been a slow and tedious process.
“To date, there have been just 30 convictions in response to an estimated 50,000 rapes during the years of war.
While it is a positive step that the War Crimes Court in Sarajevo has reached this verdict, the pace of justice for sexual violence survivors has been painfully slow.”
She went on to praise the courage of the victims and witnesses who came forwarded and testified in this case.
“Ultimately, their actions contribute to strengthening the rule of law in Bosnia as a whole. It is crucial that these and other witnesses are afforded full legal protection, and I trust that the relevant authorities will take all possible measures to ensure their safety.
“This case is yet another testament to the resilience of Bosnian women who have joined forces in their quest for justice, both within and beyond the courtroom.”