Muslims In BiH To Appeal Court Verdict On Mosques


By Drazen Remikovic

The Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is expected to submmit an appeal next week to the Appelate Court of BiH on the recent ruling that Republika Srpska is not required to compensate it 32m euros for 16 mosques that were destroyed in 1992-1993.

Islamic Comminity lawyer Esad Hrvacic told SETimes that the appeal was to be submited in Monday (February 13th) but wasn’t due to technical issues.

“The appeal is written and it’s going to be submitted. We expect that the Appelate Court will respond to it in April,” Hrvacic added.

The District Court of Banja Luka said that their February 6th verdict was based on the fact that the case was past the statute of limitations.

But, according to Hrvacic, offenses committed in war can not become outdated.

“We believe that damage created in the war should be treated as a war crime and therefore, cannot become outdated. If the Appelate Court of BiH does not adopt the appeal, we will appeal to the International Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg,” Hrvacic told SETimes.

The original verdict on the case, presented by the Basic Court of Banja Luka in 2009, ruled in favour of the Islamic Community. But the District Court overturned that verdict in December 2009, and ordered the Islamic Community to pay 24,000 euros in court costs. The Community then appealed to the RS Supreme Court.

Community General-Secretary Muhamed Salkic said the legal battle on this matter is not over.

“It’s not about money, but about the destruction of historical monuments that occurred without reason,” Salkic told SETimes.

According to the Community, about 450 destroyed mosques in BiH have been restored and 250 are still waiting for renewal. The most famous mosque that was destroyed was Ferhadija, which was built in 1579 and is on the UNESCO list of protected monuments.

Banja Luka resident Amir Hadzisabovic, 29, told SETimes that the recent verdict doesn’t contribute to reconciliation among all peoples and nationalities in BiH.

“It is obvious that this is a political decision and I think that it is necessary to prove that destruction of one entire people and culture happend here in Banja Luka during the last war. That’s the only way that we can live together in peace and harmony. If there’s no reconciliation, we can’t go further,” he said.

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of RS President Branko Todorovic said that RS authorities are responsible for the destruction of religious objects in the territory during the war.

“The judgment is cynical and hypocritical. This happened 20 years ago, not 200 years ago. People remember things like that. If the authorities falsify history, they will only burden future generations with their misdeeds,” Todorovic told SETimes.


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