Wartime assistant interior minister Tomislav Mercep on Thursday was found guilty of committing war crimes against Serb civilians in the early 1990s and sentenced to five and a half years in prison.
Zagreb County Court judge Zdravko Majerovic said that Mercep was guilty because he failed to stop members of the unit under his command from committing crimes, thus giving them tacit permission to commit crimes while he was away.
Mercep was initially charged with ordering the alleged crimes, but last July the indictment was amended so that he was charged only with failure to stop his subordinates from committing the crimes.
The amended indictment also said that the members of the unit under Mercep's command had not been instructed of their obligations arising from the international laws of war, whereby Mercep gave them tacit approval for such actions.
His unit unlawfully arrested 52 persons in the Kutina, Pakrac and Zagreb areas, of whom 43 were killed, three are listed as missing and six survived torture and abuse.
The verdict gave details of the forced detention and torture of civilians and described situations in which victims were dispossessed of their valuables, such as cars and money.
The trial lasted four years.
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