A Bosnian state court confirmed the hate speech convictions of Dusan Sladojevic, Slavko Aleksic and Risto Lecic for inciting national, racial and religious hatred, discord and intolerance in Visegrad in March 2019.
“The court of Bosnia and Herzegovina delivered a verdict in the case of Dusan Sladojevic and others, rejecting the appeals filed by the prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and defence and confirming the second instance decision,” said the state court in a statement.
Each man has been sentenced to five months in prison.
The court found the individuals incited hatred at a Ravna Gora Movement rally in Visegrad. Songs that threatened to inflict violence were sung at the event.
Members of the Ravna Gora Movement are widely known as Chetniks. On 10 March 2019, a number of Chetniks’ supporters rallied in Visegrad, wearing black uniforms and chanting ethnically provocative songs. Participants later drove in a car convoy to the nearby village of Dobrunska Rijeka, or Drazevina.
The Bosnian court’s indictment said that the three men participated in events that caused “distress and fear” among the local population. This fear was particularly keenly felt by non-Serbs, who fled the area during the 1990s war, and have only since returned to their homes.
The defendants were initially acquitted last year, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. A court found them guilty in June this year following a retrial.
The three accused Chetniks appealed the hate speech convictions a second time.
In reading the second-instance verdict in June, Judge Azra Miletic cited the age of the defendants as evidence that the three men were aware of the serious crimes committed against the Bosniak population in Visegrad during the 1990s war. ‘
“It is true that the right to freedom of expression is guaranteed, but that is not an absolute right,” Miletic said.
The Chetnik rally is held in Dobrunska Rijeka annually in commemoration of the detainment of Dragoljub ‘Draza’ Mihailovic, the leader of the violent Chetnik movement, by Yugoslav Communist authorities in 1946.
This latest verdict confirmed that Sladojevic, the president of the Ravna Gora Movement, addressed the 2019 gathering in Visegrad. A song called ‘Get Ready, Chetniks’ was played at the event, in which threats of violence are made.
The verdict also said that Aleksic convened the Chetniks at the rally, and Lecic participated in a song upholding the Chetnik movement and making threats of violence.
The second-instance verdict is final, and cannot be appealed.