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Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Damir Ivanković, a.k.a. "Dado"

Court The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Section I for War Crimes, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Case number X-KR-08/549-1
Decision title Verdict
Decision date 2 July 2009
  • Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Damir Ivanković, a.k.a. "Dado"
Categories Crimes against humanity
Keywords Crimes against humanity; inhumane acts; murder; persecution
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Damir Ivanković was born on 26 June 1970 in Prijedor. In 1992, he was a member of the Prijedor police station and the police intervention platoon from Prijedor. He pleaded guilty of escorting a convoy consisting of at least 16 buses, tractor-trailers, trucks and truck-trailers carrying more than 1,200 predominantly Muslim and some Croat civilian, who were detained at the Bosnian Serb-run Trnopolje concentration camp. Ivanković further admitted that when the convoy reached Mount Vlašić, he and other members of the police intervention platoon and the Prijedor police separated more than 200 men. They subsequently boarded them on two buses and brought them to a location called Korićanske stijene on Mount Vlašić, an area where there is a sheer rock face on one side of the road and a steep cliff on the other. There, Ivanković and the others ordered the men of the first bus to kneel on the very edge of the road above the cliff and subsequently fired at them. Some of the men jumped into the abyss hoping that they would survive. The men from the second bus were executed in groups of three. Thereafter, the accused threw hand grenades from the top of the precipice, and opened fire at the dead bodies and at those who jumped. In total, more than 200 men were killed and only 12 survived.

Ivanković was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

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Procedural history

On 27 May 2008, Damir Ivanković, a member of the intervention platoon of the police from Prijedor, was arrested by the Bosnian State Protection and Investigation Agency (SIPA).

On 8 January 2009, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina issued an indictment against Ivanković and seven others, charging them with crimes against humanity. The indictment alleges, inter alia, that Ivanković and the others escorted a convoy of buses and trucks carrying over 1,200 Bosnian Muslims (Bosniak) and Croat civilians, separating more than 200-able-bodied men, and subsequently killing most of them on the 21 August 1992.

On 22 June 2009, the Prosecutor’s Office and Ivanković entered into a plea agreement requesting separation of the proceedings against Ivanković. In the plea agreement, Ivanković pleaded guilty and pledged to testify as a witness in the proceedings against the other accused persons. The Prosecutor proposed a sentence ranging between 15 and 18 years.

On 29 June 2009, a hearing to deliberate on the plea agreement was held. The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Court of BiH) accepted the plea agreement and issued a decision on separating the case of Ivanković.

On 30 June 2009, Ivanković testified as a witness for the Prosecutor's Office of BiH in the proceedings against the other seven accused persons.

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Legally relevant facts

On 21 August 1992, Ivanković ‘carried out, participated and aided in escorting a convoy consisting of at least 16 buses, tractor-trailers, trucks and truck-trailers carrying more than 1,200 predominantly Muslim and some Croat civilians from Prijedor Municipality. En route to Travnik Municipality via the municipalities of Prijedor, Banja Luka, Kneževo/Skender Vakuf and Travnik, where the civilians were to be transported, according to a previous plan of which he knew and, with a view to carrying out the plan, the Accused seized money, gold and other valuables from the Bosniak and Croat civilians on the convoy on several occasions threatening to kill them’ (p. 2).

When the convoy stopped near the Ugar River on Mount Vlašić, Ivanković and members of the police intervention platoon of the police from Prijedor separated more than 200 able-bodied men from the convoy, ordered them to board two busses and brought them to a location called Korićanske stijene. There, the men from one bus were ordered to kneel near an abyss before shots were fired at them. The men from the second bus were executed in groups of three. Thereafter, hand grenades were thrown from the top of the precipice and fire was opened at the dead bodies and the men who jumped hoping they would survive (p. 2).

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Core legal questions

Can Damir Ivanković be found guilty of a crime against humanity committed on the 21 August 1992 against the Bosniak and Croat population of Prijedor Municipality?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1950, Council of Europe:

  • Article 4(a) - Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

  • Article 7 - No punishment without law

Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2003:

  • Article 3 - Principle of Legality

  • Article 4 - Time Constraints Regarding Applicability

  • Article 39 - The Purpose of Punishment

  • Article 42 - Imprisonment

  • Article 48 - General Principles of Meting out Punishments

  • Article 56 - Credit for the Period Spent in Custody and Credit for Punishment under an Earlier Sentence

  • Article 172(1)(a)(d)(e)(h)(k) - Crimes against Humanity

  • Article 180(1) - Individual Criminal Responsibility  

Criminal Procedure Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2006:

  • Article 198(2) - Ruling on the Claims under Property Law

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Court's holding and analysis

After determining the facts of the case, the Court analysed whether the killing of the men constituted a crime against humanity. Therefore, four requirements had to be fulfilled: 1) there must have been a widespread or systematic attack; 2) the act must have been committed as part of this attack; 3) the attack must have been directed against any civilian population; and 4) the accused must have had knowledge of the attack. In this regard, the Court concluded that the killing was part of the widespread and systematic attack against the Bosniak and Croat civilian population of Prijedor Municipality (pp.10-12). On the basis of evidence and Ivanković’s testimony, the Court also came to the conclusion that Ivanković knowingly participated in the attack with discriminatory intent, which was also required in order for the killing to constitute a crime against humanity (pp. 12-13).

Therefore, Section I for War Crimes of the Court found Ivanković guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. In particular, Ivanković was found guilty of committing ‘the crime of persecution by way of forcible transfer of population, deliberate deprivation of life (murders) and inhumane treatment, while knowingly participating in the joint criminal enterprise of the civil and military authorities of Prijedor Municipality, […] whose goal was to expel Bosniaks and Croats from the territory controlled by the Serb authorities, committing crimes of murder, forcible transfer, inhumane treatment,’ (p. 3).

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Further analysis

R. Hodžić, ‘Living the Legacy of Mass Atrocities - Victims’ Perspectives on War Crimes Trials’, Journal of International Criminal Justice, February 2010, Vol.  8(1), pp. 113-136.

J. N. Clark, ‘The State Court of Bosnia and Hercegovina: a path to reconciliation?’,Contemporary Justice Review: Issues in Criminal, Social, and Restorative Justice, 15 October 2010, Vol. 13(4), pp. 371-390.

I. Gontcharov, ‘2012 Report on The Genocide in Prijedor, Bosnia & Herzegovina’, Institute for Research of Genocide Canada, 2012, pp. 1-26.

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials

Case Information - Ivanković Damir’, Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina.

‘Damir Ivankovic’, TRIAL.

‘Damir Ivanković sutra svjedoči protiv ostalih optuženih’, Klix, 29 June 2009.

Pronouncement of the Verdict scheduled in the Damir Ivanković case’, Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, 1 July 2009.

‘Damir Ivanković Found Guilty of the Crimes against Humanity’, Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2 July 2009.

Damir Ivanković osuđen na 14 godina zbog sudjelovanja u ubistvu 200 civila na Korićanskim stijenama’, Radio Televizija Tuzlanskog Kantona, 2 July 2009.

Damir Ivankovic Sentenced to 14 Years’, Balkan Insight, 2 July 2009.

‘Bosnian Serb gets 14 yrs jail for wartime massacre’, Reuters, 2 July 2009.

‘Bosnia jails Serb 14 years on warcrimes’, UPI, 3 July 2009.

World Briefing / Bosnia-herzegovina - Serb gets 14 years in war crimes case’, Los Angeles Times, 3 July 2009.

K. Stijene, ‘Forensic experts risk lives for Bosnia justice’,, 11 August 2009.

Stranično svjedočanstvo zločinca Damira Ivankovića’, Bosnjacki Front, 20 August 2009.

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Social media links

Koricanske stijene: Guilt Admission’, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, 23 June 2009.

Zločincu Damiru Ivankoviću Samo 14 Godina Robije Za Zločin Na Korićanskim Stijenama’, Bosnjaci net, 2 July 2009.

‘Korićanske stijene: Damiru Ivankoviću 14 godina zatvora’, Kozarac, 2 July 2009.