Bosnia grants first ever compensation to wartime rape victim

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A Bosnian court Wednesday ordered two former soldiers to compensate a woman they raped during the 1990s conflict in an unprecedented ruling that one NGO said could open the door to justice for thousands of victims.

Bosiljko Markovic and Ostoja Markovic were each sentenced to 10 years in prison for the rape of a Croatian minor in the northern village of Orahova during the 1992-1995 conflict, a statement from the court in Sarajevo said.

They were also ordered to pay a total of 26,500 Bosnian marks (13,500 euros) in compensation to the victim, a first for a court in the former Yugoslav republic.

Previously, victims of war crimes were encouraged by judges to claim damages before an administrative tribunal.

Very few have done so, however, in part because of the expense involved.

Swiss non-governmental organisation Trial said the verdict created a “historic” precedent that “opens the way for justice for thousands of victims of war crimes”.

The number of people who suffered sexual violence during the wars in the Balkans is estimated at between 20,000 and 50,000, most of them Bosnian Muslims.