Bosniak women survivors of the Srebrenica massacre gesture as they watch on TV the verdict on Momcilo Krajisnik, a former high-ranking Bosnian Serb politician accused of genocide over the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, at the Union of Srebrenica women in Sarajevo on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006. The U.N. tribunal sentenced Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik on Wednesday to 27 years in prison for crimes against humanity committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
Bosniak woman Munira Subasic survivor of the Srebrenica massacre reacts as she watches on TV the verdict on Momcilo Krajisnik, a former high-ranking Bosnian Serb politician accused of genocide over the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, at the Union of Srebrenica woman in Sarajevo on Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2006. The U.N. tribunal sentenced Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik on Wednesday to 27 years in prison for crimes against humanity committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
Sabra Kolenovic, a Bosnian Muslim survivor of 1995 Srebrenica massacre of over 8,000 Muslims reacts, during the live TV coverage from the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague, from her office in Sarajevo September 27, 2006. Relatives of victims of the Srebrenica massacre blasted the U.N. war crimes tribunal’s verdict on Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik on Wednesday as too lenient, despite his sentence of 27 years’ jail.”
INTERNATIONAL WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL JAILS FORMER BOSNIAN SERB POLITICIAN FOR 27 YEARS
“It’s a minimal punishment for what he has done,” said Zumra Sehomerovic, of the “Mothers of Srebrenica” association.“It doesn’t matter that he may not live long enough to walk out. What matters is that his acts are properly punished,” she said. “This Hague tribunal has also become a circus. God, is there justice anywhere in this world?”
Momcilo Krajisnik, 61, one of the highest ranking politicians in wartime Bosnia, was convicted of five counts of war crimes, including persecution, extermination, and the murder of Bosniaks and Croats in the early stages of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, which left more than 100,000 dead on all sides, mostly Bosniaks.
Reading a litany of killings, plundering and forced transfers in a summary of the judgment, presiding judge Alphons Orie said Krajisnik’s “role in the commission of the crimes was crucial.”
The judgment said Krajisnik “knew about, and intended, the mass detention and expulsion of civilians. He had the power to intervene, but he was not concerned with the predicament of detained and expelled persons.”
Orie said the judges were unconvinced by the evidence that the Bosnian Serb leadership had deliberately intended to destroy the non-Serb population in whole or in part – a key element in winning a conviction for Bosnian genocide.
The court has ruled in other cases that genocide occurred at Srebrenica, Bosnia, in July 1995, when Bosnian Serb troops killed at least 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in the worst civilian massacre in Europe since the Second World War II (see preliminary list of dead and missing).
“Krajisnik wanted the Muslim [Bosniak] and Croat populations moved out of Bosnian-Serb territories in large numbers, and accepted that a heavy price of suffering, death, and destruction was necessary to achieve Serb domination and a viable statehood,” the judgment said.
Krajisnik listened to the reading of the verdict gravely, with downcast eyes, then stood as the sentence was read. His lawyers had asked for acquittal, and said they would appeal the ruling. Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence.
Several family members were in the gallery to hear the verdict. “I know my brother is certainly not guilty, at least not to such an extent.” said Mirko Krajisnik.
Victims of the Bosnian Serbs decried the sentence as too lenient.
“It’s a minimal punishment for what he has done,” said Zumra Sehomerovic, of the “Mothers of Srebrenica” association.
“It doesn’t matter that he may not live long enough to walk out. What matters is that his acts are properly punished,” she said. “This Hague tribunal has also become a circus. God, is there justice anywhere in this world?”
Krajisnik’s case was of the most important remaining for the tribunal, which is due to begin its last trial in 2008, and may be the last chance to apportion blame among the leadership of the breakaway Bosnian Serb leadership for atrocities carried out by troops on the ground.
The two remaining key suspects, former Bosnian Serb Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, both indicted for genocide, are fugitives.
The ruling did not mention former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who prosecutors claimed had pulled the strings from neighbouring Serbia during the war. Milosevic died of heart attack in his cell in March, before a verdict could be rendered in his case.
A third figure in the Bosnian Serb leadership, Biljana Plavsic, confessed and is serving an 11-year sentence. She testified unwillingly against Krajisnik, saying he wielded almost as much power as Karadzic.
Krajisnik’s indictment covered events July 1991-December 2002, including the period when ethnic Serbs seized two-thirds of the territory in Bosnia and evicted non-Serbs. The judgment described what happened to Bosniak detainees at Zvornik, just one of the dozens of towns listed in the indictment.
“One man had his ear cut off, others had their fingers cut off, and at least two men were sexually mutilated,” it said. “About 160 detainees were later removed in small groups and executed by the Serb guards.”
Taken together, what was done to Bosniaks and Croats in Bosnia would be enough to constitute the act of genocide, but “the chamber has not received sufficient evidence to establish whether the perpetrators had genocidal intent,” Orie said.
The judges rejected the argument by Krajisnik’s lawyers had argued he was only a small player in the Bosnian Serb government, They said he was part of its executive authority and bore responsibility.
KAMENICA EXHUMATION COMPLETED, SERBS ON TWO SEPARATE GENOCIDE TRIALS HAVE LITTLE TO SAY
More than 1,000 remains from 1995 Srebrenica massacre found in mass grave The bodies of more than 1,000 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre have been exhumed from the largest mass grave found to date in Bosnia-Herzegovina, forensic experts said Thursday.
Experts began digging in June near the eastern Bosnian village of Kamenica, close to the border with Serbia, where they have found eight other mass graves. The team has exhumed 144 complete and 1,009 partial skeletons.
“This is the largest mass grave so far found,” said Murat Hurtic, head of the forensics team.
Along with the remains, experts found 14 documents indicating the victims were killed in the Srebrenica massacre, which became the site of Europe’s worst mass execution since the Second World War when Serb troops in 1995 overran the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, which the United Nations had declared a safe zone. As many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slain.
The excavation team said it found bullets mixed with body parts, and plastic and cloth bindings around the victims’ arms.
The remains were heavily damaged, a typical feature of “secondary” mass graves to which victims’ bodies are moved from an original burial site in an attempt to hide a crime, experts said.
Much of the moving in this case was done with bulldozers, which complicates the identification process because parts of the same body can be found in two or even three different mass graves, experts said.Forensic teams have been uncovering mass graves throughout Bosnia in recent years, collecting the remains and extracting DNA to be matched with family members. Once a match is found, the body is returned to the family for burial.
Of the 3,500 bodies of Srebrenica victims excavated so far, 2,500 have been identified through DNA and some 2,000 buried in a cemetery in the Srebrenica suburb of Potocari, where the victims last were seen alive before being rounded up by Serb soldiers and taken for execution.
The trial of seven Bosnian Serb military and police officers continued this week with the testimony of a survivor of the Srebrenica massacre who described in gripping detail the horrors he suffered after the enclave was overrun by Serb forces in July 1995.
Ahmo Hasic “believed to be one of only 12 men who survived the slaughter of 8,000 Bosniak men and boys” told the judges he stayed alive only by playing dead after Serb soldiers started shooting.
The trial chamber heard a similar testimony last week from Mevludin Oric who described how he lay under a pile of dead bodies for several hours.
On trial are Ljubisa Beara, Vujadin Popovic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic and Drago Nikolic, who face genocide and war crimes charges. Radivoj Miletic and Milan Gvero are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Hasic, 70, is not new to the court. In 2001, he testified at the trial of Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic, currently serving a 35-year prison sentence in Britain after being found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide.
In 2003, Hasic was also a prosecution witness at the trial of Bosnian Serb military officers Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic. They were sentenced to 18 and 19 years respectively for their role in the massacre.
Last week, as he had done previously, Hasic told the judges that on July 13 he was separated from his family in Potocari and taken to the nearby Serb-held town of Bratunac, where he and hundreds of other Bosniaks were detained in the Vuk Karadzic elementary school.
But the true horror began on July 16, when the prisoners were taken to the nearby Branjevo farm. According to the indictment against the seven, it was at Branjevo that approximately 1,200 Bosnian Muslim males were summarily executed by automatic gunfire from members of the 10th Sabotage Detachment, the Bratunac Brigade and others.
Hasic’s two sons and two brothers died in Srebrenica. Last year he reburied one of his sons after his remains were excavated from a mass grave near Srebrenica. He still hasn’t found his other son.
As he got off the bus, Hasic saw an entire field covered with dead bodies. Serb soldiers then lined up the prisoners from Hasic’s group and the mass execution began.
“I fell down before I was shot,” he said. “The bullets whizzed past me.”
While lying on the ground he saw more buses filled with Muslim detainees arriving, most of whom suffered the same fate. “The buses were unloaded, and the prisoners were lined up and then executed,” said Hasic.
Hasic lay under a pile of dead bodies for hours as Bosnian Serb soldiers walked around the field looking for survivors. “One man who was lying not very far from me said, ‘I’m alive’. The other one said, ‘I’m wounded, come and finish me off’. Serb soldiers then shot them both dead,” he said.
He continued, “I knew I didn’t have much time, because the Serbs would come back with trucks and bulldozers to remove all those bodies. So I waited until dusk, and crawled through the layers of dead bodies to the bushes at the edge of the field.”
There he found four other survivors. They all stayed hidden until dark, looking at the grisly scene in front of them. “There were between 1,000 and 1,500 bodies lying on the ground. They were all dead,” Hasic told the court.
The five slipped away into the forest after nightfall, but Hasic’s journey was far from over. The oldest man in the group, he was outpaced and soon got left behind and walked all night in the darkness, thirsty and exhausted.
In the morning, he found an asphalted road, but just as he began crossing, he saw a truck coming along it. “It was a Serb truck, full of dead bodies,” he said. He believes the bodies were being taken from the execution site to a mass grave.
“The driver told me to stop, but I kept on walking,” he said. “He probably thought I was a Serb too, so he let me go.”
Hasic spent another 10 days wandering the hills around Srebrenica, and was captured by the Bosnian Serb military again. He was transferred to the camp in Batkovic, under the watchful eye of the Red Cross, and released five months later.Srebrenica Genocide Trial in Sarajevo
Witnesses at the trial of 11 Bosnian Serbs accused of killing Bosniak men and boys during the Srebrenica massacre offered the Bosnian war crimes court only limited first-hand recollections of the events of July 1995 when they appeared in court last week.
The case, which began on May 9 and is still in the prosecution phase, is the first and only genocide trial being heard by the Bosnian national war crimes court in Sarajevo.
The indictment alleges that principal defendant Milos Stupar, a commander in the Sekovici Special Police at the time, along with 10 accomplices – Milenko Trifunovic, Milovan Matic, Brane Dzinic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Miladin Stevanovic, Velibor Maksimovic,
Dragisa Zivanovic, Petar Mitrovic and Branislav Medan took part in killing more than 1,000 Muslims in a warehouse at Kravice, near Srebrenica, on July 13.
The defendants are also accused of being part of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at forcibly evicting women and children from the Srebrenica enclave after it was overrun by Serb forces in summer 1995. In February this year, they pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.
The three Bosnian Serbs brought as prosecution witnesses last week were there because they had been served with subpoenas. They were serving in Serb police and army units and were in the vicinity of Srebrenica when the killings took place.
In court, two denied they knew what was going on, while a third said he heard gunshots and was told prisoners had been killed.
As has often been the case during this trial, the witnesses’ evidence in court differed considerably from statements they gave to Bosnian investigators.
One, Stanislav Vukajlovic, told the judges that the discrepancies were the result of pressure put on him when he was first questioned by investigators. He said one had been “very rude” and had threatened him with prison if he did not cooperate.
Vukajlovic was a soldier in the Bosnian Serb army, VRS, at the time of the events in question. He told the court that in March 1995, he deserted the army and fled to Serbia but was arrested there and deported back to Republika Srpska shortly before the massacre. He testified that his unit was deployed in the Bratunac area around July 12, but that he “didn’t see anything suspicious” over the next couple of days.
Witness Milos Vukovic, a former member of the Sekovici Special Police, was a truck driver stationed in Bratunac at the time of the massacre. He too said he had “no knowledge about the events in Srebrenica and Kravice”. He confirmed only that he saw a large number of buses and trucks carrying women and children from Srebrenica to the Bosnian Government-held town of Tuzla.
Milenko Pepic, an ex-member of the same police unit, said that on the day of the massacre he was in the vicinity of Kravice and heard “gunfire and detonations” coming from the direction of the warehouse. Later that day, he passed by the warehouse and saw bullet holes all over the
He said a superior officer told him that “it wasn’t a good thing to shoot all those prisoners”.
The trial continues next week.
Submitted by: Owen
Today was Global Day for Darfur, on the anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the “Responsibility to Protect” declaration providing the legal and ethical basis for “humanitarian intervention” in a state that is unwilling or unable to fight genocide, massive killings and other massive human rights violations.
Ready and waiting is the prospect of a desperate catastrophe when the African Union mandate in Darfur runs out in 13 days time and the Sudanese government refuses to allow the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force.
The Global Day for Darfur aimed to push national governments to act as members of the internationa community to act rapidly to prevent a horrific deterioration in an already awful situation.
For those with a fast enough internet connect there’s a fifty minute clip filmed by the Aegis Trust from this morning’s event outside the Sudanese Embassy in London (followed by a march to 10 Downing Street via Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square)
First ten minutes are Darfuris calling for UN deployment (with pictures of the demonstration being filming inside the Embassy – behind the camera to start with, later on the white building with the metal-barred window), then various speakers to the rally included Adam Hussein, escapee from Darfur, Susan Pollack, survivor of Auschwitz, Beatha Uwazaninka, survivor of Rwanda, and preceding Beatha Uwazaninka at just after 34 minutes into the clip, Kemal Pervanic, survivor of Omarska, drawing the lesson from Bosnia for public concern to push the need for action over Darfur up the politicians’ order of priorities.
Anyone who wasn’t able to attend a meeting for the Global Day can go and sign the petition to the Secretary General of the UN and to the Prime Minister by going to the bottom of the page at
“I, alongside people and organizations from around the world, call on my President or Prime Minister and the international community to:
* Strengthen the understaffed and overwhelmed African Union peacekeeping force now. We must offer extra help to the African peacekeepers already on the ground.
* Transition peacekeeping responsibilities to a stronger UN force as soon as possible. The UN must deploy peacekeepers with a strong mandate to protect civilians.
* Increase aid levels and ensure access for aid delivery. Shortfalls in aid continue to mean that people are at risk of starvation. Humanitarian organizations must have unfettered access to all who need help.
* Implement the Darfur Peace Agreement. For the violence to end, all parties to the agreement, in particular the Sudanese Government, must live up to their responsibilities.”
United Nations Development Program – Research Results
Recently published results of UNDP‘s research in Sarajevo Oslobodjenje have shown that Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs of Bosnia-Herzegovina want to live together, but don’t want to have close family ties.
According to this report, majority of Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats are willing to share land with other ethnic groups, live with different ethnic groups in their neighbourhoods or send their kids to ethnically mixed schools. However, there is a very low percentage of people who are ready for ethnically mixed marriages.
According to the war-time statistics, there were 120,000 ethnically mixed marriages in Sarajevo alone. Today, 29.8% of Bosniaks on a territory where they form majority, approves marriages with Serbs; while 32.5% of Croats on a territory where they form majority approves ethnically mixed marriages with Serbs. On the other hand, 31.41% of Serbs where they form majority supported ethnic marriages with Croats, while 27.5% of them supported ethnic marriages with Bosniaks.
Interestingly, other minorities on all three ethnically diverse regions of Bosnia-Herzegovina support marriages with all three ethnic groups, including having family ties with “other” people; the exceptions were Bosniaks and Serbs who live on a territory with Croat majority.
Prof. Jusuf Ziga is not surprised by the results of this research.
“For me, these were expected, but also encouraging results.” – says Ziga and explains that considering recent past of Bosnia, the fact that around 30% of citizens is still ready for ethnically mixed marriages and many more for life together “indicates that the readiness to appreciate and accept others has survived despite all odds, and it is still alive as a social value.”
UNDP has concluded that Bosniaks are most ready than all to live together with other ethnic groups in all three ethnically diverse regions of Bosnia.
87.8% of Bosniaks are willing to live in same country with Serbs, and 94.8% of them with Croats.
76% of Croats are willing to share land with Serbs and Bosniaks.
58.9% Serbs are willing to live with Bosniaks and 60.9% with Croats in a territory where Serbs form majority.
Almost in equal percentage, Bosniaks want to have Serbs and Croats as neighbours, while percentage of Serbs who want other ethnic groups as neighbours is somewhat higher. Croats would rather share land where they form majority, than live with other ethnic groups in their neighbourhood.
When it comes to sending kids to same school with other ethnic groups, that number is even lower in Croats, although satisfactory: 66.5% of Croats approve sending their kids to same school with Serb children, while 63.5% of Croats are ready to send their kids to school with Bosniak children. Percentage of Serbs who are willing to school their children with children from other ethnic groups is somewhat smaller, however, 65% of Serbs do support mixed schools.
Consequences of Conflict
When the UNDP researchers asked citizens would they mind if their boss was of other ethnic background, the number of those who answered positively continued plunging. Bosniaks would rather have a Croat, then Serb boss. About 50% of Serbs would neither mind having a Croat, nor Bosniak boss.
Although differences are not huge, the research has shown that Serbs and Croats would rather share land, neighbourhood, school, and even a marriage among each other, then with a third ethnic group – Bosniaks.
Prof. Ziga finds reasons in religious differences, especially when it comes to marriages.
“The fact is that the consequences of conflicts can be felt even to day. And the fact is also that these conflicts were bigger among Bosniaks and Serbs, than they were among Serbs and Croats. But, although there are differences, it should not be forgotten that Serbs and Croats have same religious foundation and I am not surprised they have more readines for common marriage.
However, differences are minimal, even when it comes to this supersensitive question.” – says Prof. Ziga, who thinks that UNDP results show that BiH society has strength for revitalization, but they also have need for community living.”
Serbs – the most unattached to Bosnia-Herzegovina
While they wish to preserve common life among each other, ethnic groups have not developed enough feelings of attachment to common land. The exceptions were Bosniaks, while that feeling is somewhat weaker among Croats, and the weakest among Serbs – only 20% of them say they feel strong attachment to Bosnia. However, attachment to Bosnia among Serbs and Croats is much higher if they live in a community with Bosniaks.
Support for joining European Union
Serbs are more committed for European Union than to their own land. According to UNDP statistics, 61.4% of Serbs, 74.8% of Croats, and 88.4% of Bosniaks on territories where they form majority support Bosnia joining European Union. In 80% of cases other minorities expressed strong or somewhat strong support Bosnia joining European Union.