Belgrade Court Acquits Mladić Helpers

Belgrade’s Appellate Court acquitted ten defendants of aiding and hiding former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladić, currently on genocide trial in The Hague, from 2002 to 2006. Ending the 11-year trial, the court sentenced former Bosnian Serb general Marko Lugonja to six months in prison, on probation for a year, and acquitted the other nine defendants. Lugonja was the only one who admitted to hiding Mladić in his apartment.

The court ruled that the prosecution failed to prove that the defendants were helping Mladić avoid arrest on genocide and war crimes charges. Former chief in command of the Bosnian Serb army during the 1992-95 Bosnian war was arrested in Serbia in 2011 and sent to The Hague, where he is currently tried by a UN court.

The court ruled that Lugonja aided a suspected criminal after the crime was committed and accepted his confession

Lugonja was found guilty of hiding Mladić in his Belgrade apartment in September 2002, although he was aware that the general was indicted on 15 counts, including crimes against humanity. The court ruled that Lugonja aided a suspected criminal after the crime was committed and accepted his confession. According to Lugonja, he let Mladić stay at his apartment because late general Zdravko Tolimir asked him. Tolimir died in prison last year, serving his genocide sentence.

The other nine defendants were acquitted as the court ruled the evidence against them was weak.

The persons who aided Mladić from 2006 until his arrest in 2011 made a deal with the prosecutor and pleaded guilty in exchange for probation sentences.

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