Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to Countryaah, a Sarajevo court in March sentenced Serbian ex-commander Veselin Vlahović to 45 years in prison, the longest sentence for war crimes so far distributed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vlahović, known as “the monster from Grbavica”, was felled for eg. over 30 murders of Bosniaks and Croats during the war in the 1990s.
In March, the UN War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague sentenced former Bosnian Serb interior minister Mićo Stanišić and an employee to 22 years in prison for war crimes. In May, Bosnian croat Jadranko Prlić was sentenced to 25 years in prison for ethnic cleansing and other war crimes. Prlić was Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna during the war and Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1996-2001. Five other Bosnian Croats were sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison at the same time.
In the country’s most widespread corruption crisis since independence in 1992, the president of the Bosnian-Croat Federation, Živko Budimir, was arrested in April, along with four others, suspected of receiving bribes for arranging pardons on convicted persons. They were detained for a month before the Constitutional Court changed the verdict and they were released on parole. Budimir continued as president of the federation, one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s two autonomous parts.
Extensive protests took place during the year against politicians not being able to agree on a new social security law. Since the previous law expired in February, it had become impossible to obtain new passports or ID documents for newborns. The reason for the disagreement was that Serbian members wanted the numbers to reflect the country’s division into two parts, something Bosniaks and Croats opposed. Only in November was a new law approved that made it possible to issue new social security numbers.
The first census in independent Bosnia and Herzegovina was carried out for a few weeks in the autumn. The census, which included a non-compulsory issue of ethnicity, was a requirement of the EU for talks on a future membership.
In October, the EU decided to withhold € 47 million in aid when politicians, despite riots and a judgment of the European Court of Justice, failed to agree on a change in electoral laws to eliminate discrimination against minority groups. The Constitution’s writings on three “constituent people groups” – Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats – meant that other ethnic groups were excluded from political office.
In the fall, the excavation of the perhaps largest mass grave found since the 1990s began, in the village of Tomasica in the northwest. Remnants of around 1,000 Bosniaks and Croats were believed to be in the grave.