For the first time ever, a Bosnian court has ordered two former Bosnian Serb soldiers who raped a Croat woman during the 1992-1995 war to pay monetary compensation to the victim. The two soldiers -- Bosiljko Markovic and Ostoja Markovic -- were also sentenced to 10 years in prison by the court on Wednesday, according to media reports.
The two soldiers were reportedly ordered to pay 26,500 Bosnian marka (approximately $15,200) to the victim. The woman -- one among the thousands who were raped during the multilateral conflict involving various Serbian and Croat entities with Bosnia and Herzegovina -- was repeatedly raped during an attack on her village of Orahova in 1992, according to media reports.
Estimates by various human rights groups suggest that up to 60,000 women -- mostly Muslim Bosniaks -- might have been raped by Bosnian Serb soldiers.
“Many women were raped, sometimes repeatedly, in front of family members in their homes. Others were raped in public, outdoors, in broad daylight,” the Women Under Siege project run by U.S.-based Women’s Media Center, said.
Trial BiH, an organization that provides legal assistance to the victims, welcomed the “landmark sentence” in a statement released Wednesday.
“Money will not erase the pain caused by the perpetrators, but it is nevertheless a very important day for the victim. For her, justice has been fully served,” Adrijana Hanusic, a legal adviser at Trial BiH said, in the statement. “This verdict is of key importance for other victims of war crimes in BiH and the region: they can now hope for adjustments in legal practice that would compensate them while bringing criminals to justice.”
Although Bosnian courts have, in the past, prosecuted and jailed several war criminals for sexual violence during the war, they have directed victims to pursue compensation claims in expensive civil procedures -- a recourse many victims have avoided because it requires them to reveal their identities.