SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia’s state court sentenced an Islamist radical to 45 years in prison on Friday for a 2010 bomb attack on a police station in which an officer was killed and several injured.
It was the longest sentence handed down in postwar Bosnia for an offence other than a war crime.
Haris Causevic planned, organized and carried out a terrorist act in the central town of Bugojno on June 27 2010, aiming to intimidate the population, coerce the authorities and destabilize the country, said presiding judge Goran Radevic.
“The Council of Judges has decided to jail Haris Causevic to a maximum prison term of 45 years to express the public condemnation of the act he committed,” said Radevic.
“Causevic was mentally sound, he had wanted to commit a crime and was persistent in that endeavor,” the judge said.
“The attack was carried out in a specifically cruel and ruthless way, and he showed no empathy for those hurt by it.”
Naser Palislamovic, accused along with Causevic over the attack, was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
Neither man attended the announcing of the verdict. They had boycotted earlier hearings, saying they recognized only “God’s court”.
Causevic planted an improvised explosive device by the back wall of the police station which was detonated by a slow fuse in the early hours. He was caught running away.
Causevic had amassed a great quantity of weapons and ammunition over the years, with the goal of committing terrorism, Radevic said.
Six men were originally charged with the bombing, three of them under terrorism laws. Three others were accused of assisting the attack but their trial has been delayed.
One of the three accused of terrorism made a deal with the prosecution to testify against Causevic and was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2012.
All six men were members of the strict Wahhabi branch of Islam, which gained a foothold in Bosnia after its 1992-95 war.
Causevic belonged to a group which aimed to turn secular Bosnia into a state governed by sharia law, Radevic said.
In 2008, he planned to kidnap a police officer or his child to exchange for an Islamist friend who at the time was detained under terrorism charges. He gave up after the friend told him he would soon be released, the judge added.
Causevic’s lawyers said they would appeal against the ruling.
The Bugojno bombing was one of the most serious security incidents in Bosnia since the war.
Last month, Bosnia’s appeals court jailed for 15 years an Islamist gunman who fired on the U.S. embassy in 2011, seriously wounding a police officer.
Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Andrew Roche