Regional co-operation and cohesive measures are necessary for counterterrorism action to thrive, the EU said.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 27/12/13
The June 2010 bombing killed one policeman and injured seven others. [AFP]
A sentence handed down by the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) State Court for the 2010 bombing of a police station in Bugojno was lauded by the EU as a clear message to terrorists.
Haris Causevic received a 45-year prison sentence on December 20th for the attack, which killed police officer Tarik Ljubuskic and injured seven others.
It was the longest sentence handed down in postwar BiH for an offence other than war crimes. The court said Causevic, an Islamic extremist and member of the local Wahabbi community, aimed to intimidate the population, coerce authorities and destabilise the country with his act.
"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. Causevic was mentally sound, he wanted to commit a crime and was persistent in that endeavour," Judge Goran Radevic said after handing down the sentence.
The EU welcomed the verdict, but said that counterterrorism requires co-ordinated and cohesive national and regional policies.
"Counterterrorism is a priority for the European Union with a particular focus on prevention. Significant funds have been used to help build up the capacities of law enforcement agencies in BiH that contribute to fight against terrorism, as well as regional co-operation. BiH continues to implement its strategy for preventing and fighting terrorism and key strategic measures have been developed, though the overall operational capacity needs to be reinforced," Meliha Mujezinovic, a spokesperson for the Office of the Special Representative for the EU in BiH, told SETimes.
Causevic's alleged assistant in the attack, Naser Palislamovic, was acquitted.
The State Prosecutor's Office of BiH said it was satisfied with the verdict for Causevic, but will appeal Palislamovic's release.
''This is both a preventive and a good message to all those who even think of committing terrorism, or any similar activities in BiH, and proof that BiH has the capacity and will to detect and prosecute it," Boris Grubesic, spokesman for the prosecutor's office, told SETimes.
The Bugojno bombing was one of the most serious security incidents in BiH since the war.
Causevic's case was the 14th terrorism conviction in BiH since 1997. Terrorism attacks in the country during that time have killed four people and injured 15.
"Recent judgments on terrorism are really encouraging, but if police and security authorities recognised and responded to threats on time, this would not have occurred. BiH needs to realise that the counterterrorism is a priority. Political factors need to set it on the top of their agenda. There are still places in BiH where the police cannot enter. Until authorities resolve that, there is a threat to all the citizens of this country," Dusanka Majkic, chairman of the parliamentary committee for defence and security, told SETimes.
What preventative steps can regional countries take to increase their counterterrorism measures? Add your thoughts below.