Home > srebrenica massacre > ICTY ACQUITS NASER ORIC OF THE MOST SERIOUS CHARGES

ICTY ACQUITS NASER ORIC OF THE MOST SERIOUS CHARGES

June 30, 2006

SEE NEW UPDATE:
Naser Oric was acquitted of all charges on appeal,
read here.

FAIR DECISION in ORIC CASE, AT LEAST FROM THE BOSNIAK PERSPECTIVE


Naser Oric, defender of Srebrenica, listens as Judge reads lengthy judgment acquitting him of most charges and convicting him of failure to punish men under his control for mistreatment of about 16 Serb soldiers.

Naser Oric was found NOT GUILTY and therefore acquitted of any direct involvement in the mistreatment of about 15 Serb captives (of which about 5 died) and of responsibility for the “wanton destruction” of homes and property. But he was found GUILTY of failing to control and discipline men under his command.

The UN war crimes tribunal imposed a light two-year sentence on the commander of the Bosniak defenders of the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica for failing to prevent murder and/or cruel treatment of about 15 Serb captives (about 5 of them died).
But the tribunal in The Hague ordered his immediate release since he has already been detained more than three years.
Naser Oric, 39, was acquitted of direct involvement in the murder of prisoners. He was acquitted of all charges related to the wanton destruction of Serb villages.

But the judges found he had closed his eyes to the mistreatment of captives and failed to punish their killers.

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.

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International Court: Naser Oric cleared of any direct involvement in mistreatment or murder of Serb soldiers“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.
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Many of the 52 witnesses that the prosecution called were members of the Bosnian Serb Army who participated in the seige and massacre of over 8,100 Srebrenica Bosniaks.
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Correspondents say many Bosniaks regard Mr. Oric as a hero, and believe the decision to prosecute him was made to counter complaints by Serbs that the tribunal was biased against them.
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In court, Oric listened impassively as the lengthy verdict was read out.
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Serbian media falsely claimed that over 3,000 Serbs died around Srebrenica. However, the Research & Documentation Center (which aids ICTY war crime investigations) found that number to be 9 to 10 times lower. RDC concluded:

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]

In fact, the International Court found that only 16 Serb were mistreated in the Naser Oric Case. Contrast that with over 8,000 slaughtered Bosniaks in Srebrenica, hundreds of thousands of Bosniaks who were ethnically cleansed from the area of Eastern Bosnia, and another tens of thousands missing in the area of Eastern Bosnia [RDC].
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In determining the sentence the Trial Chamber gave pivotal consideration to the general circumstances prevailing in Srebrenica and those particular to the accused and to the crimes committed. The judges described conditions in Srebrenica at the times of the crimes in 1992 and 1993 as abysmal. They noted that militarily superior Serb forces encircled the town and that there was an unmanageable influx of refugees there, as well as a critical shortage of food and the breakdown of law and order. The judges also noted that it was in these circumstances that Oric, then aged 25, was elected commander of a poorly trained volunteer force that lacked effective links with government forces in Sarajevo. His authority, they assessed, was scorned by some other Bosnian Muslim leaders and his situation became worse as the Bosnian Serb forces increased the momentum of their siege.

The judges found that there is no other case before the Tribunal in which the accused was found guilty of having failed to prevent murder and cruel treatment of prisoners in such a limited manner and in such abysmal personal and circumstantial conditions as in this case. Consequently, the sentence imposed reflects this uniquely limited criminal responsibility.
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The Tribunal’s Trial Chamber II convicted Oric because he had reason to know about acts of murder and cruel treatment committed at the Srebrenica Police Station and a building behind the Srebrenica municipal building where Serb prisoners were kept between 27 December 1992 and 20 March 1993, and he failed to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of the crimes. The Trial Chamber acquitted the accused of a number of other alleged crimes.
The Trial Chamber, composed of Judge Carmel Agius (presiding), Judge Hans Henrik Brydensholt and Judge Albin Eser heard 80 witnesses. A total of 1639 exhibits were tendered into evidence.
Mr. Oric was found:

NOT GUILTY and therefore acquitted of:

Under Count 1: Failure to discharge his duty as a superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of murder 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 murder 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.
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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.
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NOT GUILTY and therefore acquitted of:
Count 3: Failure to discharge his duty as a superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or punish the occurrence of acts of wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, not justified by military necessity, pursuant to Articles 3(b) and 7(3) of the Statute.
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NOT GUILTY and therefore acquitted of:
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.
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GUILTY of:
Under Count 1: Failure to discharge his duty as a superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of murder from 27 December 1992 to 20 March 1993 pursuant to Articles 3 and 7(3) of the Statute.
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 27 December 1992 to 20 March 1993 pursuant to Articles 3 and 7(3) of the Statute.
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Related: Naser Oric Trial Ends – Fairness Questioned

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

  1. Ariel Nehora (Israel)
    June 30, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    2 year-sentence for no crime committed is unacceptable. There was no direct involvement between him and people who mistreated captive Serb men.

    Some Serb women actually helped defence of Naser Oric by testifying about humane treatment Oric men provided them. Here is an older article:

    http://www.bosnia.org.uk/news/news_body.cfm?newsid=1974

  2. Shaina
    July 1, 2006 at 1:13 am

    Hi. Just a very small (but important!) correction to your title: “Naser Oric proved his innocence.”

    The judges in a criminal case like the Naser Oric case do NOT decide whether a defendent is innocent (did not commit the crime) or whether they are guilty (committed the crime).
    Instead, the judges decide whether the prosecution proved beyond a resonable doubt that the defendent committed the crime.
    It is a small distinction, but a very important one.

  3. Srebrenica Massacre
    July 1, 2006 at 1:58 am

    Shaina said:Just a very small (but important!) correction to your title: “Naser Oric proved his innocence.”

    Just for the record: I regret putting that title. More suitable title would be “Naser Oric Acquitted of Most Charges” or “Naser Oric Cleared of Any Direct Involvement”.

  4. James Kendell
    July 2, 2006 at 1:02 am

    Naser Oric is finally free! He was found guilty of letting his men beat up Serbian chetnik prisoners who raped, killed and tortured Bosniak civilians! He was freed because he already served 3 years, and his sentance was only for 2 years. So Hague owes him a year.

    The other bull @#%$ he was accused of was thrown out.

    Serbs can now shut their lying ass mouths.

  5. Owen
    July 4, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    It seems this willingness to heroicise Oric stems firstly from a recognition of his role in defending the enclave, which is fair enough albeit he didn’t seem to have made himself too well liked among those he was protecting, but mainly it comes form Bosniaks’ determination not to let Serb apologists get away with making out that the crimes of Oric / Bosniaks and Mladic / Serbs were somehow on a par.

    War criminals are war criminals, two year sentences don’t get handed out for being found innocent and a legal finding of not guilty isn’t the same as a confirmation of innocence. But – the massacre of Muslims at Srebrenica was an atrocity by comparison with which Oric’s misdeeds were those of a rank amateur, a nasty amateur but not someone who planned and executed the slaughter of thousands of civilians and prisoners of war.

    It would be nice to see some Bosniaks less eager to jump to Oric’s defence, but much much more desirable would be to see the apologists for mass butchery stop using Oric as an excuse for not facing up to their responsibility for the barbarism that the Greater Serbia enterprise brought to Europe.

    Now the trial’s over, how about a little less attention for Oric and a bit more for Avdo Palic, who helped the people of Zepa avoid the fate of the those slaughtered at Srebrenica. Unlike Oric he ended up paying with his life. He was a prisoner of the Bosnian Serb army when he “disappeared” and thanks to the Bosnian Serb authorities’ dissimulation and unhelpfulness his family have had to live for more than a decade with the distress of not knowing when or how he died or where his body is buried.

  6. Srebrenica Massacre
    July 4, 2006 at 7:25 pm

    Hi Owen, just a small correction, you said: “Now the trial’s over, how about a little less attention for Oric and a bit more for Avdo Palic, who helped the people of Zepa avoid the fate of the those slaughtered at Srebrenica. “

    Actually, people from Zepa did not avoid slaughter. They ended up in Srebrenica after Zepa fell to Serbian hands. Sadly, they met fate of those in Srebrenica.

    Thank you for keeping memory fo Avdo Palic alive !

  7. Owen
    July 7, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    Daniel, the people who should be honoured for keeping the memory of Avdo Palic alive are the five Amnesty groups who have been campaigning to discover what happened. They are Houston Texas Amnesty Group 23 in the US and other groups in Austria, Finland, France, and Greece.
    For more information see http://www.geocities.com/pvlwright/index.htmp

  8. Prle
    October 28, 2006 at 7:04 pm

    I just wont to know, how long is Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic gonna be free? It is good for Bosniaks that they are free, for as long as they are free, Serbia will not enter the European Union, nor receive any international financial help.

    Oric defended his people. And what Sweedish jurnalists publihed about Oric’s men raping Muslim girls ih town of Srebrenica and it’s surroundings is a complete bull$hi%. Oric is a father, husband and a damn good one.

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