In Bosnia, no justice for Roma

10 April 2001

A court in Brčko, in northeast Bosnia and Herzegovina, has brought a lenient sentence for crimes related to a September 2000 incident in which an ethnic Serb threatened and shot at a group of Roma in the village of Vučilovac near Brčko. According to the testimony of the victims received by the ERRC, on the afternoon of September 13, 2000, an ethnic Serbian man armed with an M48 rifle stopped a group of four Roma - Mr Mehmed Ahmetović, Mr Zaim Šečić, Mr Ramiz Halilović, and a seven-year-old girl I.H. - passing by his yard on a cart. The man - Mr Marko Maksić - reportedly forced the Roma to park in his yard, and leave there all the scrap material they had gathered from the local garbage dump. Mr Maksić pointed the rifle at the Roma and forced them to take off their clothes. One of the men pleaded to be allowed not to do it, as a small girl was present, but Mr Maksić shot at him in response, missing him. Mr Maksić then forced another of the Romani men to do push-ups, and when the man was too tired to continue, Mr Maksić then beat the man with the butt of his gun on the back, and insulted the man’s ethnic origin. Mr Maksić then forced the group, without their clothes, to leave on their horse cart and then he shot at them several times from a distance. One shot struck Mr Mehmed Ahmetović in his arm, and another shot struck the horse. The Roma consequently informed the police, who arrested Mr Maksić. On December 20, 2000, Mr Maksić was sentenced by the Brčko first instance court to fourteen months in prison for unlawful possession of firearms and explosives, and severe violation of public peace and order. Experts noted that the latter charges were not appropriate in that Mr Maksić had not merely disrupted public order but rather seriously harmed someone. As a result of the inadequate charges, the sentence provided was extremely lenient.

(ERRC, OSCE, International Police Task Force)


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