A Belgrade court sentenced Nikola Vida Lujic, a former member of Serbian State Securityâ€™s notorious Special Operations Unit, to eight years in prison for raping a woman in Brcko in Bosnia in June 1992.
Belgrade Higher Court on Thursday convicted Nikola Vida Lujic, a former member of the Special Operations Unit, an elite Serbian special forces unit also known as the Red Berets, of raping a Bosnian women in Brcko on June 20, 1992, and sentenced him to eight years in prison.
According to the indictment, Vida Lujic, together with two other unidentified fighters, entered a house in Brcko on the day of the assault, wearing a uniform and armed with a gun.
He pulled out the weapon, loaded it with bullets and put it back in his pocket in front of a women who was in the house, whose identity was not disclosed in the indictment.
After she handed over her money and jewellery, Vida Lujic said â€œCome with meâ€, took her into the bathroom and locked the door. He raped her twice in the bathroom and then took her into the bedroom and raped her again, the charges allege.
During the assault, the victim asked Vida Lujic to kill her, to which he replied he was â€œnot in charge of thatâ€, the indictment says. While he was raping the woman, the two other soldiers broke everything in the house.
Judge Dejan Terzic said that there were no mitigating circumstances and noted that Vida Lujic, who was not present in court for the verdict, had been previously convicted of a similar crime.
â€œHe used his dominance over the victim and her helplessness because she was already scared enough because her husband had been arrested,â€ Terzic said.
Vida Lujic insisted during the trial that he was not member of any armed unit during the war and that he did not know the victim.
But other witnesses, among whom was a member of the Red Berets, said Vida Lujic was a member of the Special Operations Unit, whose members have been accused of involvement in several wartime and post-war crimes.
The victimâ€™s husband testified during the trial that on the day of the crime, a group of Serb soldiers came to his house and took him away for interrogation. After he came back, a neighbour told him that his wife had been raped.
The indictment was originally issued by Brcko District Prosecutorâ€™s Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina in January 2018. But because Vida Lujic is a Serbian citizen, the case was transferred from the District Court in the Bosnian town of Doboj to the Higher Court in Belgrade, and the trial started in December 2018.
This is a first-instance verdict and can be appealed.