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Bosnia grants first ever compensation to wartime rape victim

A Bosnian court in Sarajevo on Wednesday ordered two former soldiers to compensate a woman they raped during the 1990s conflict. The soldiers were also sentenced to ten years in jail.

The ruling is an unprecedented one, and a nongovernmental organization said it could open the door to justice for thousands of victims.

The landmark ruling saw Bosiljko Markovic and Ostoja Markovic 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. They were also ordered to pay a total of 26,500 Bosnian marks (13,500 euros) in compensation to the victim.

The woman is among thousands of victims of wartime rape whose search for recognition and support from the Bosnian state has so far been blocked by Bosnian Serb leaders who fear a wave of compensation claims.

Bosnian courts have persecuted and jailed a number of war criminals for committing sexual violence during the war, but they have always directed victims to pursue compensation claims in costly civil proceedings.

The Swiss NGO 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 Balkan wars is estimated at between 20,000 and 50,000, most of them Bosnian Muslims.

av/bw (AFP, Reuters)