SEE NEW UPDATE:
Naser Oric was acquitted of all charges on appeal, read here.
The incidents took place from December 1992 to March 1993 (before Srebrenica became “Safe Heaven”), when Serbian forces were ethnically cleansing, torturing, raping, and killing Bosniak population of Eastern Bosnia.
“The accused was entitled to credit for the period of time he spent in custody since 10 April 2003 and the Judges therefore ordered that he be released as soon as the necessary practical arrangements have been made,” the court said in a statement.
The allegations that Serb casualties in Bratunac, between April 1992 and December 1995 amount to over three thousand is an evident falsification of facts. Perhaps the clearest illustration of gross exaggeration is that of Kravica, a Serb village near Bratunac attacked by the Bosnian Army on the morning of Orthodox Christmas, January 7, 1993 . The allegations that the attack resulted in hundreds of civilian victims have been shown to be false. Insight into the original documentation of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) clearly shows that in fact military victims highly outnumber the civilian ones. The document entitled “Warpath of the Bratunac brigade”, puts the military victims at 35 killed and 36 wounded; the number of civilian victims of the attack is eleven. [Read Full Report]
NOT GUILTY and therefore acquitted of:
Under Count 2: Failure to discharge his duty as a superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of cruel treatment from 24 September 1992 to 16 October 1992 pursuant to Articles 3 and 7(3) of the Statute, and failure to discharge his duty as a superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to punish the occurrence of cruel treatment from 24 September 1992 to 16 October 1992 and from 27 December 1992 to 20 March 1993 pursuant to Articles 3 and 7(3) of the Statute.
Count 5: Wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, not justified by military necessity, pursuant to Articles 3(b) and 7(1) of the Statute.
You might also be interested to read lengthy (but very interesting) IWPR piece:Oric Released Following Conviction
Oric’s Two Years – By Human Rights Watch
Brief intro by Blog’s owner: Marko Boskic allegedly helped kill 12-hundred men and children at Srebrenica, where over eight-thousand Bosniaks were murdered during Srebrenica massacre in 1995. The killings were part of ethnic cleansing by Serb separatists and was the largest massacre in Europe since World War Two. Boskic had been living in Peabody and working as a construction worker when he was arrested last year. Jury selection took place Monday in U-S District Court in Boston. Boskic faces deportation back to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he could be tried as a war criminal.
Stern said. “This is not a war crimes case. This is a case about false statements.”
1. Butcher of Srebrenica wants his own admission kept silent
2. Elusive Justice: Marko Boskic, a man who gunned down 1,200 Srebrenica Bosniaks
3. Bush administration has no interest in prosecuting Srebrenica massacre suspects
4. Phoenix: Mecca for Srebrenica massacre fugitives
SICK REASONING: ATTEMPT TO JUSTIFY SREBRENICA MASSACRE
The simple and most effective solution which the Serbs wanted before the war even began, was a division of land. If the Bosnian Muslims had agreed to the reality that Croats and Serbs have no interest in living in a Muslim-dominated Bosnia, the war would never have started.
With respect to Srebrenica, it was unfortunately a legitimate military target. The so-called “safe haven” was used to protect Naser Oric, an indicted Muslim war criminal, who ran raids from Srebrenica for years, killing and butchering Serb civilians in the surrounding towns. He even videotaped his murder sprees. As a result, the town became a legitimate military objective and was destroyed. The American military doctrine of applying overwhelming force against a target is well understood and was applicable here.
Let’s quote some facts. Here is a short excerpt from United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 53/35 that addresses the issue of demilitarization.
Criticisms have also been leveled at the Bosniaks in Srebrenica, among them that they did not fully demilitarize and that they did not do enough to defend the enclave. To a degree, these criticisms appear to be contradictory. Concerning the first criticism, it is right to note that the Bosnian Government had entered into demilitarization agreements with the Bosnian Serbs. They did this with the encouragement of the United Nations. While it is also true that the Bosnian fighters in Srebrenica did not fully demilitarize, they did demilitarize enough for UNPROFOR to issue a press release, on 21 April 1993, saying that the process had been a success. Specific instructions from United Nations Headquarters in New York stated that UNPROFOF should not be too zealous in searching for Bosniak weapons and, later, that the Serbs should withdraw their heavy weapons before the Bosniaks gave up their weapons. The Serbs never did withdraw their heavy weapons. [Read full report]
A third accusation leveled at the Bosniak defenders of Srebrenica is that they provoked the Serb offensive by attacking out of that safe area. Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. Dutchbat personnel on the ground at the time assessed that the few “raids” the Bosniaks mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organized in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them. The biggest attack the Bosniaks launched out of Srebrenica during the more than two years which is was designated a safe area appears to have been the raid on the village of Visnjica, on 26 June 1995, in which several houses were burned, up to four Serbs were killed and approximately 100 sheep were stolen. In contrast, the Serbs overran the enclave two weeks later, driving tens of thousands from their homes, and summarily executing thousands of men and boys. The Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina, while freeing their troops to fight in other parts of the country. The extent to which this pretext was accepted at face value by international actors and observers reflected the prism of “moral equivalency” through which the conflict in Bosnia was viewed by too many for too long. [Read full report]
With respect to the alleged Serb civilian casualties around Srebrenica, let me quote conclusions made by internationaly funded Research & Documentation Center (RDC) in Sarajevo, which is comprised of Bosniak, Croat, Serb, and international investigators. In fact, the allegations that Serb casualties around Srebrenica, between April 1992 and December 1995 amount to over three thousand is an evident falsification of facts:
Perhaps the clearest illustration of gross exaggeration is that of Kravica, a Serb village near Bratunac attacked by the Bosnian Army on the morning of Orthodox Christmas, January 7, 1993. The allegations that the attack resulted in hundreds of civilian victims have been shown to be false. Insight into the original documentation of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) clearly shows that in fact military victims highly outnumber the civilian ones. The document entitled “Warpath of the Bratunac brigade”, puts the military victims at 35 killed and 36 wounded; the number of civilian victims of the attack is eleven. [Read full report]
So, stop using America for all your socialist excuses. American military has done more good than bad and one simply cannot compare professionally trained American soldiers with Serbian thugs who wandered Bosnia seeking to rape, mutilate, ethnically cleanse, and destroy democratic, secular and internationally recognized Bosnia-Herzegovina.
BELGRADE, Serbia – The general still has his admirers.
In the musty headquarters of the Center for the Investigation of War Crimes Against Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina, his portrait is prominently displayed on the wall behind Ljubisa Ristic’s desk. There were about 2,000 Serb civilian casualties in the war which Serbia waged against Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995 [source – as of Dec 15, 2005 data].
“My personal opinion is that he is a true soldier and a hero of the Serbian people,” Ristic said.
It is not clear how many other Serbs feel that way about Gen. Ratko Mladic, the wartime commander of the Bosnian Serb army and chief executor of its ethnic cleansing campaign.
“I’d say 75 percent of the Serbs see him as a war hero,” said Aleksandar Tijanic, who heads the state-run television network in Serbia. “But if you ask them if he should he go to The Hague to save the Serbs from more suffering, 75 percent would say yes.”
Mladic, who has been charged with genocide by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, has been on the run since the collapse of Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in October 2000.
Last month, the European Union broke off talks with Belgrade aimed at preparing Serbia for EU membership after President Vojislav Kostunica’s government missed another deadline for delivering Mladic. The United States followed suit this month, canceling a $7 million aid package to the Serbian government.
Carla Del Ponte, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, has claimed repeatedly that Mladic is in Serbia and within the reach of Belgrade authorities. She says the government simply lacks the political will to arrest him.
That appeared to be the case in February when there were feverish media reports that the general had been cornered at a hiding place near the Bosnian border.
“But instead of arresting him, they started negotiating with him,” said Bratislav Grubacic, a political analyst who publishes a widely respected newsletter.
The negotiations came to nothing. “And now they really don’t know where he is,” Grubacic said. “For this government, I think they prefer not to know.”
Vladan Batic, the former Yugoslav justice minister who ordered the extradition of Milosevic to The Hague in June 2001, agrees with Del Ponte that the present government lacks the political will to deliver Mladic.
“Kostunica was hoping that Mladic would surrender himself,” said Batic. “He knows Mladic is our ticket to Europe, but he’s afraid that if he gives up Mladic, he’ll lose a lot of votes and won’t be seen as a so-called patriot.” Batic, who heads a small opposition party and who retains good police and security contacts, believes Mladic is holed up at the Topcider military base, a large complex amid a forest outside Belgrade that has an elaborate network of tunnels.
State TV boss Tijanic, who is close to Kostunica, disputes the Topcider theory and also the suggestion that Kostunica is afraid of arresting Mladic.
“Today, Kostunica’s government is willing to send him to The Hague, but they don’t know where he is hiding,” Tijanic said.
Citing the recent arrests of about a dozen people thought to be part of Mladic’s support system, Tijanic claimed that Mladic has cut all of his contacts with the military and security forces and is hiding on his own.
The international community’s focus on Mladic has diverted attention from Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb wartime political leader, also charged with genocide and still on the run.
There are three explanations.
The first is The Hague’s experience in prosecuting genocide cases, which argues that it is much easier to obtain a conviction against military officers, who answer to a clear chain of command, than it is against their political bosses. A second explanation is that Karadzic, who is believed to be in Bosnia, has done a better job hiding himself.
The last, based on a persistent rumor echoed by nearly every diplomat and expert in the Balkans, is that at the time of the Dayton peace agreement, Karadzic cut a deal that he would completely withdraw from politics if authorities would not try too hard to find him. Little has been heard from him since.
A year ago, public opinion in Serbia was shaken by a video recording that came to light during the Milosevic trial. It shows members of an Interior Ministry death squad known as the Scorpions executing six handcuffed Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica, where more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were massacred in 1995, allegedly on orders from Mladic.
The video [source], shot by one of the participants, was shown on Serbian television and the government, for the first time, acknowledged that Serbs were guilty of atrocities. The killers, who were identifiable on the video, have been arrested and are being tried in Serbian courts.
Ristic, from the center for war crimes against Serbs, said the trials were appropriate, but insisted that the Scorpion tape has not shaken his faith in Mladic’s innocence.
“I was not there (Srebrenica), so I can’t tell you whether he ordered anything or not. But after our clear-cut victory, it was not in Serbia’s interest to do something like that,” he said.
Milan Protic, a historian who served as Yugoslavia’s first ambassador to the United States in the post-Milosevic era, said that only “stupid minds” in Serbia continued to view Mladic as a hero, but that it also is wrong for the EU and the United States to hold all of Serbia hostage to his arrest.
“He is an obsolete symbol, this dirty little Serbian commander from Bosnia,” he said, “but the West is using him to complicate all kinds of things for Serbia.
Stand Off at the Security Council
Apart from restricting the counts on the indictment, the judges have also decided on a number of steps to control proceedings at the tribunal more tightly, “shifting away from party-driven process to one that is closely managed by the judges of the tribunal”, as Pocar explained.
The innovations mainly focus on the work of pre-trial judges, and how they should write strict timetables, require the prosecution and defence to provide timely pre-trial briefs, disclose witnesses and make “greater use of the power to sanction” either side.
STATEMENT BY TRIBUNAL’S PROSECUTOR CARLA DEL PONTE TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 7 JUNE 2006
Points of Interest (blog editor’s picks):
1) The Prosecution has proven an international armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina no less than five times. This proves that there was no civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina as previously thought, but a full blown international attack on Bosnia-Herzegovina by neighbouring Serbia.
2) An amendment to the Rules was adopted that would allow a Trial Chamber to direct the Prosecutor to cut counts in an indictment, which Mrs. Del Ponte justly refuses to do.
3) Serbia has the main responsibility to locate, arrest and transfer all six fugitives. The co-operation provided by Serbia to the ICTY has been and remains very difficult and frustrating.
4) Nobody is searching actively for primary orchestrators of Srebrenica massacre: Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. [Also see: $5,000,000 Reward posted by the US Justice Department for the capture of Radovan Karadzic and/or Ratko Mladic]
Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to provide you with my assessment of the progress made in the completion strategy and to highlight the problems we continue to face. A written assessment was delivered already, and I intend to focus on the main issues.
A number of steps were taken internally to increase the efficiency of the Tribunal, while maintaining the highest standards expected from an international court created by the United Nations.
In this regard, I have proposed to join cases with a similar crime base. I have filed four motions for that purpose, and three were accepted by the Chambers. One trial with six accused has already begun. Later this year, a consolidated trial with nine accused charged with crimes committed in Srebrenica will start, as well as another one with six leading political and military figures indicted for crimes committed by Serbian forces in Kosovo.
My second initiative has been to propose the transfer of cases involving mid-and lower-level perpetrators. This undertaking was met with strong opposition from some victims’ groups. However, my assessment of the local judiciaries is that they are now capable of trying such cases. Beginning in September 2004, I have therefore filed 13 motions requesting the transfer of cases to the domestic jurisdictions of the former Yugoslavia. There is no other case at the ICTY that could be transferred to the region, as, according to the criteria set by the Council, they all concern the most senior leaders responsible for the most serious crimes.
Thirdly, I have been working with the Judges in taking all possible measures to ensure that the Tribunal’s own process is as efficient as possible. I have put forward packages of reforms that, if implemented, would significantly accelerate the pre-trial and trial proceedings. Given the seriousness of the cases at the ICTY, it is essential to improve urgently pre-trial management, so that issues are narrowed before the trial starts so that the trial can focus on truly contested matters. Decisions on key issues must be made long before the beginning of the trial. For instance, it is important that a decision be rendered very soon on a motion regarding the disclosure of materials in electronic or hard copy that I filed in the Šešelj case over two years ago.
I have also proposed that a much more dynamic approach be taken on adjudicated facts. Such facts have been proven in previous trials, and the Chambers have the power to decide that they must not be proven again in a given trial. The instrument of the adjudicated facts is therefore a key tool to reduce the scope of the trials. For instance, the Prosecution has proven an international armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina no less than five times, wasting months and months on proving the same facts, sometimes with the same witnesses, in case after case. We have to prove it again, for the sixth time, in the on-going Prlić et al. trial.
I have also taken the lead in promoting the efficient use of time at trial. For example, in the Prlić et al. case, the Prosecution has put forward a 10 point plan to streamline the trial, within the time limit set by the President of the Trial Chamber, for the Prosecution and Defence respectively to present their cases and cross-examination. This plan was accepted by the Trial Chamber and its implementation does have serious positive effects.
During the Judges’ Plenary on 30 May, an amendment to the Rules was unfortunately adopted that would allow a Trial Chamber to direct the Prosecutor to cut counts in an indictment. In view of the checks and balances contained in the Statute, and particularly the duties and responsibilities of the Prosecutor under the Statute, such directions by the Chambers can only be interpreted as purely advisory in nature. Only the Security Council has the power to modify the ICTY Statute, which guarantees the independence of the Prosecutor and assigns to her the responsibility of determining which charges to bring in a prosecution.
I am continuously reviewing our cases and I will not hesitate to cut counts when there are clear judicial reasons for that. It is however impossible to arbitrarily cut and slice cases, which are complex by their very nature. My mandate, given by the Security Council, is to prosecute the most senior officials, that is to say persons who were most often far removed from the crime scenes and whose responsibility can only be established by examining a number of different crimes, often in different geographical areas. Removing one or several counts artificially may seriously undermine the prosecution case. Eventually it leads to impunity for certain crimes and does not do justice to the victims, who are already puzzled by the Completion Strategy.
Allow me to use an example: Srebrenica. Which counts should I eliminate? Those referring to the killings of over 7,000 men and boys? (see:preliminary list of 8,106 Srebrenica massacre victims) Or those relating to the forcible transfer of 25,000 women, children and elderly people? This would mean that I am only presenting half the picture of the serious crimes that took place in Srebrenica. How can I justify presenting only half the picture of the brutal crimes that took place in the former Yugoslavia? These are choices that, as a Prosecutor representing also the victims, I am not ready to make. This would introduce unacceptable disparity in the treatment of the persons accused by the Tribunal. There must be no justice à la carte.
I will again urge the other organs of the Tribunal to focus on the proposals made by the Judges’s Working Group and by my Office. These measures, if fully implemented, would have a serious impact on the length of the proceedings and put the Tribunal closer to realizing the Completion Strategy.
Speeding up the proceedings is a top priority of my Office. Obtaining the arrest and transfer of the remaining indictees at large is another one. It has been said a thousand times: it is inconceivable that the ICTY closes its doors with Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladić at large.I want to stress again before the Council that impunity for these two most serious architects of the crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both accused of genocide, would represent a terrible blow not only to the success or failure of the Tribunal, but to the future of international justice as a whole.
Serbia has the main responsibility to locate, arrest and transfer all six fugitives. According to my information, Mladić, Tolimir, Hadžić and Župljanin are in Serbia. Furthermore, there are established leads connecting Serbia to Karadžić, whose location is unknown, and to Ðjorđevic, who is still believed to be in Russia. The fact that Mladić has been an active officer of the Army of Yugoslavia till May 2002, one year and a half after the fall of Milosević and seven years after he was indicted, adds to the responsibility of Belgrade for its failure to deliver the former General.
Over the past twelve months, the Serbian authorities have repeatedly promised that Mladić would be delivered soon. I was told regularly by Serbian officials that the circle was closing down around him. At the end of April, in view of Serbia’s failure to achieve the promised results, I re-assessed the whole operation and found out that it had been suffering grave defects. During 2005, there was no real attempt to locate and arrest Mladić. Time was wasted in trying to encourage him to surrender voluntarily. Since the beginning of this year, it seems that more was undertaken. In particular, his support network was targeted, and several of his supporters arrested. These actions were sometimes spectacular, they fed many news articles, but they lacked the necessary discretion that would have allowed to acquire information leading to Mladić.
The most blatant dysfunction is the total lack of co-operation between the military and the civilian authorities. The inconsistencies I could identify in the various reports provided to me came as another surprise and forced me to suspect that some of the information contained in these reports had been doctored for political reasons. In our co-operation with Belgrade, we have not managed to achieve so far the level of trust and transparency that we had achieved with other countries. I will keep on engaging the Serbian Government in the months to come, trying to establish more confidence and a better communication.
As to the other aspects of the co-operation with Belgrade, a mission was sent in the second half of May to test the new arrangement agreed upon with the Government of Serbia and Montenegro regarding access to archives. This has been a long standing problem. The first accounts I received from my staff are encouraging.
To sum up, the co-operation provided by Serbia to the ICTY has been and remains very difficult and frustrating. There is serious political and administrative resistance within the system, and a strong political will is needed to overcome those obstacles. On the basis of the facts in my possession, I cannot be convinced that Serbia is ready to arrest Mladić. For a number of reasons, the authorities may still prefer to force him to surrender voluntarily.
Republika Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina also has to increase substantially its efforts to locate and arrest fugitives. Whereas it is unclear whether Radovan Karadžić still resides at times or travels through Republika Srpska, it is certain that part of his network and of his family remains there. In the reporting period, the cooperation provided by Republika Srpska to my office has rather decreased, which is due to political reasons and the reshuffling of personnel in the police. Now that a new team is in place, the search for Karadžić must intensify rapidly.
My office has maintained a positive working relationship with Montenegro for over a year, and I expect this co-operation to continue at full speed. Part of Karadžić’s family is living in Montenegro, and he can count on numerous supporters there.
I am particularly disappointed about the lack of movement on another important fugitive, Vlastimir Ðjorđevic. The investigation carried out by the Russian authorities, as they told us, has failed to produce results. This will have negative implications on the completion strategy, because, if Ðjorđevic is not surrendered within the next weeks, it will be impossible to try him with his six co-accused. Resources will therefore have to be wasted in a separate trial. Ðjorđevic is accused of very serious crimes committed by Serbian forces in Kosovo. The long and unexplained delays in the transfer of Zelenović, who was detained in Russia since August 2005, do not allow for optimism in the future of the ICTY’s co-operation with the Russian Federation.
It is also worrying that a sister organisation of the Tribunal, the UN Mission in Kosovo, refuses to co-operate fully with the Tribunal. My office has nowadays more difficulties to access documents belonging to UNMIK than in any other place in the former Yugoslavia. Furthermore, the UNMIK leadership is encouraging a climate which deters witnesses from talking to my investigators when it comes to the Albanian perpetrators. Very recently, there have been some indications that the UNMIK is willing to take a more constructive attitude in its relations with my office.
I explained at length in my last report why Karadžić and Mladić are still at large more than 10 years after they were first indicted. My assessment remains the same today. Serbia has to do much more to arrest and transfer Ratko Mladić. The arrest of Radovan Karadžić is a shared responsibility of Serbia, Republika Srpska, NATO and EUFOR. It is pathetic that today, nobody is searching actively for Karadžić. The planned downsizing of EUFOR will further aggravate the situation. Since no one else seems to have the political will to locate and arrest Karadzic and Mladić, I will have no choice but to seek from the Council the powers to arrest fugitives where ever they are and to allocate to my Office the necessary resources for this. Ultimately, I do not see any other way for the ICTY to fulfil its mandate and satisfy the legitimate expectations the victims placed into the United Nations.