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Mehinovic v. Vuckovic

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Synopsis

Mehinovic v. Vuckovic is a civil lawsuit filed by the Center for Justice Accountability (CJA), with CCR as counsel, on behalf of four Bosnian Muslims who were tortured by a Bosnian Serb soldier at detention facilities across Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Description

In Mehinovic v. Vuckovic, the plaintiffs – Kemal Mehinovic, Safet Hadzialijagic, Muhamed Bicic, and Hasan Subasic – charged Nikola Vuckovic, aka Nikola Nikolac, with war crimes; crimes against humanity; and torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) and the Alien Tort Statute (ATS).

The plaintiffs were held in detention facilities across Bosnia-Herzegovina without any formal charges or judicial proceedings.

All four plaintiffs were Muslim citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina from the town of Bosanski Samac. Each plaintiff knew or was acquainted with Mr. Vuckovic prior to the armed conflict through his own residence in Bosnia Samac. However, as the Serb ethnic cleansing campaign was launched, each plaintiff was subjected by Mr. Vuckovic and others of the Serbian forces to various humiliating and distressing acts.

In its factual findings, the court stated that the defendant kicked and beat plaintiffs in the genitals and head, subjected plaintiffs to beatings as they hung upside down from a rope, carved a Muslim symbol on their head, dunked their heads in a bucked used as a toilet, and repeatedly kicked and beat them.

On April 29, 2002, Judge Marvin Shoob of the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Georgia found that the “defendant repeatedly tortured and humiliated each plaintiff on a variety of different occasions and committed these abuses in furtherance of a deliberate campaign to destroy, terrorize, and displace the Muslim population of large sections of Bosnia. These abuses were carried out wantonly and maliciously and violated the most fundamental international norms of human rights.”

The court held Mr. Vuckovic liable for torture; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; arbitrary detention; war crimes; crimes against humanity; and genocide.

The court awarded each plaintiff $10 million in compensatory damages and $25 million each in punitive damages.