Home > srebrenica massacre > MOMCILO KRAJISNIK SENTENCED TO 27 YEARS

MOMCILO KRAJISNIK SENTENCED TO 27 YEARS

September 27, 2006
Bosnian Muslim woman Munira Subasic watches on TV the verdict on Momcilio 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, 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 watches on TV the verdict on Momcilio 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, 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.

Bosnian Muslim 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 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.
Bosnian Muslim 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.
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.
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?”

Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik awaits for his judgement at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. The United Nations war crimes court has sentenced Krajisnik to 27 years in prison for his role in the campaign of ethnic cleansing during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia but acquitted him of genocide.The UN Yugoslav tribunal today jailed the former speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament for 27 years for war crimes, but acquitted him of Bosnian genocide.

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.”

Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik awaits for his judgement at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. The United Nations war crimes court has sentenced Krajisnik to 27 years in prison for his role in the campaign of ethnic cleansing during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia but acquitted him of genocide.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).

Former Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik in an undated photo.“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.

  1. Owen
    September 28, 2006 at 7:21 am

    1. In his capacity as President of the RS National Assembly Krajisnik executed the Decision on Strategic Objectives of the Serbian People in Bosnia and Herzegovina which said that “The strategic objectives or priorities of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are to: (…) Establish State borders separating the Serbian people from the other two ethnic communities”

    2. Karadzic’s Presidential Directive 7 ordered the removal of the Muslim population for the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves.

    3. Biljana Plavsic testified that Krajisnik wielded almost as much power as Karadzic.

    4. In their judgment the judges have apparently said that Krajisnik was part of the Bosnian Serb government’s executive authority and bore responsibility.

    5. VRS General Krstic was convicted of command responsibility for genocide at Srebrenica.

    I would have thought that intent to commit genocide was implicit in the above. I guess we’ll have to see what the judges’ reasoning in exonerating Krajisnik was, but the verdict seems difficult to understand.

    http://www.iwpr.net/?p=tri&s=f&o=163316&apc_state=henitri2000
    http://www.un.org/icty/indictment/english/popcai051111e.htm

  2. Srebrenica Massacre
    September 28, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    The verdict does not make much sense, because Muslim blood is cheap (at least in the eyes of the international justice).

    Crime pays.

  3. Owen
    September 29, 2006 at 7:53 am

    The problem is largely to do with the problem of a careful process of law.

    The judgment talks about not finding conclusively that the events in the offences in the indictment were proved. The prosecution made strong efforts to prove that Krajisnik not only knew that genocide was taking place but intended that it should but the court found that genocide had taken place but didn’t find that the intention had been established.

    To me as a lay person the circumstances around specific acts such as the “cleansing” (as Krstic described it) of Novoseoci as established fit the criteria of the Genocide Convention but I’ve read only a small part of the evidence and I’m not a legal expert. You need to be familiar with the standards applied to testing evidence to speak authoritatively.

    Legal justice isn’t the same as natural justice but we shall see if there’s an appeal.

  4. Srebrenica Massacre
    September 29, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    The standards applied to ICTY judgments are too lenient and overly philosophical. They prove only one point: the crime pays.

    However, it is important to mention that so far two people had been convicted on Srebrenica Genocide charges, and that is a big deal.

    What ICTY prosecutors attempted to prove in Krajisnik case is the charge of Bosnian genocide, which is separate from Srebrenica genocide.

    Now, the question is whether or not Krajisnik knew about what was going on in Srebrenica between genocidal days in July when Srebrenica was shamefully handed over to genocidal Serbian forces under the command of Ratko Mladic.

    Of course they all knew what was happening, but they have destroyed the evidence, and exploited overly philosophical ICTY judicial system. So yeah, some of them got away with genocide and mass murder in the heart of Europe!

  5. Owen
    September 29, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    Dan, I don’t think they were trying to prove Bosnian genocide as such, what they were doing was proving genocide in individual municipalities and then tying Krajisnik into that through the centralisation of power and knowledge and in particular the circulation of the Instructions for the Organisation and Activity of the Serbian People in BH among the SDS Main Board which established the idea of a central authority coordinating the municipalities.

    It’s not philosophy, it’s legal justice. It’s not perfect justice, but if you don’t make the process as reliable as possible you undermine and destroy it and then you’re back to square one.

  6. Kirk Johnson
    September 29, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    It seems to me that the only way the court could argue that Krajisnik didn’t have the intent to commit genocide would be to claim that he didn’t understand the meaning of the term; which, of course, is no excuse.

    As Owen already demonstrated, the plan that the RS leadership implemented was, by definition, a well-orchestrated act of genocide. There is no way around it–a particular ethnic group was targeted for removal by violent means. Do these judges need confessions to connect the dots? I do not understand.

    I support the idea of having an international criminal tribunal, but the court seems to have gotten bogged down in minutiae and missed the big picture here. I realize that, given the man’s age, this is essentially a life sentence; but the point is not to assure that Momcilo Krajisnik dies in prison. It is to set a standard of justice, as well as standards of international behavior which cannot be breached if one wants to remain a member of the international community.

    PS This is my second comment–I wasn’t sure if the first one got through or not. My apologies if it did; you may delete one of the other, I won’t mind.

    PPS Good work on the blog, SM.

  7. Shaina
    September 29, 2006 at 11:04 pm

    I’m here!

    I was a bit surprised that the period listed in the indictment was so narrow; only ending in December 1992; even though Krajisnik was still an important figure in the RS after that.

    Owen,
    when were the “strategic orders” created?
    Because, from a lay person’s point of view, they do seem to outline a strategic plan to commit wide spread ethnic cleansing and genocide under the Geneva Conventions.
    However, it the “strategic orders” were submited after Dec 1992; then the Prosecution would not be able to submit it into evidence; since it is an event after the period of indictment.

    As it has been said before, there is a difference between actual guilt (what the person is actually guilty of) and legal guilt (what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.)
    The first issue is that the indictments are always very specific and narrow. And they include only charges that the Prosecution believes that it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
    The second issue is the trial itself; where all of the Prosecution’s evidence is held up to the legal standard of reasonable doubt.
    I can say this with pretty much total confidence, that every defendant who has made his (or in the case of Plavsic-her) way through the doors of the Hague, are responsible for more war crimes than just their indictment alone would let us believe.

    The Hague is a very important institution; but like all human institutions-it is imperfect at times.

    I haven’t read the transcripts or kept track of what documents the Prosecution submitted, so I would like to do that first.
    But I did read some articles on Krajisnik’s defense (he also was a witness at the trial).
    Most of his defense seemed to circulate on two main points:
    1. That the Bosnian Serbs weren’t the only ones committing atrocites
    2. That the quite damming statements Kristic made “the Muslims would disapear..” were not “threats.” (I would take a different view on that)

    As i said before, I do wish the judgement woud have spend more time going through the genocide charge and explaining in more detail that decision.

    27 years (even taking into consideration is age) does seem to be on the low end, especially when you consider that the judges found him legally responsible for at least 3,000 murders.

    BTW: there is a book about the difficulties of imposing sentencing at the ICTY:
    http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/newsnow/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&ndmConfigId=1004994&newsId=20060929005199&newsLang=en

  8. András
    September 30, 2006 at 6:01 am

    I’m also not sure I understand the judges’ reasoning when it comes to the genocide charges in this case. But it’s (a.) worth reading the full text of
    the Trial Chamber’s judgement in the Krajisnik case to see the particulars of the crimes for which Krajisnik was held responsible, and (b.) also worth keeping in mind that the indictment under which Krajisnik was charged covered ONLY acts that took place in the period 1 July 1991 and 30 December 1992; after December 1992, Krajisnik was no longer a member of the Expanded Presidency of the “Serb Republic” in Bosnia-Herzegovina. While he continued as Speaker in the “RS Assembly”, by the last year of the war Krajisnik no longer had the same direct role in decision- making as he did before December 1992. Which is why he was not charged in the indictment with responsibility for the events that followed the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa.

  9. Owen
    October 2, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    Andras, I’m not sure why the indictments only covered the period 1 July 1991 to 30 December 1992. Krajisnik continued to be part of the Joint Criminal Enterprise after 30 December 1992, as he continued in a position of influence as the Assembly President (para 1084 – … as both leader of the Assembly and member of the Presidency the Accused’s powers were enormous …)right up until November 1995, and he was also a member of the National Security Council and a member of the SDS Main Board (not sure till when). His membership of the SDS Main Board might have been the reason for the extension of the indictment period beyond the end of his active membership of the Presidency on 17 December 1992 – the Instructions for the Organisation and Activity of the Serbian People in BH were circulated among the SDS Main Board on 19 December, and it was that document that the court considers so important in establishing the idea of a central authority coordinating action in the municipalities.

    That still leaves the inclusion of 20-30 December to account for, or alternatively of course the exclusion of the period up to November 1995.

    (Regarding K’s membership of the Presidency, the defence tried hard to exonerate Krajisnik on the grounds that he was not a member of the formal tripartite Presidency but the court found that Karadzic and Krajisnik were the two essential members at meetings of the five-member Extended Presidency, present at almost all Presidency meetings, chairing some, and he signed Presidency documents.)

    Shaina, the Decision on Strategic Objectives was executed on 12 May 1992. For some reason the judges consider that the Decision and the Instructions on the Organisation and Activity are only significant as theroretical constructs (establishing the principal of central authority) and say that their significance can’t be interpreted in the light of subsequent events. In fact they reject the Prosecution’s claim that the Instructions served as a blueprint for municipal action even though they seem to accept that some munipal bodies claimed that they were acting in accordance with the Instructions. To me they seem to be shutting their eyes to the significance of the two documents in serving as justification and guidelines for what had preceded and what would follow, ie substantiating the mens rea of genocide.

    Andras, as far as Srebrenica is concerned, when they’re talking about the Common Objective element of the Joint Criminal Enterprise membership charge, the judges seems to be happy to refer to confirmatory evidence outside the indictment period:

    1115. At the Assembly session of 25 July 1992, the Accused asserted that the take-over of territories to date had been insufficient. Despite all that he knew by that time about the
    range of crimes being committed in pursuit of the common objective, he wanted the programme of expulsion to continue unabated. Moreover, he never expressed regret about the crimes committed by the Bosnian-Serb authorities in 1992. At no time did he desist. At the Geneva peace negotiations from 1992 to 1994, the Accused and Karadžić insisted
    throughout on having an ethnically pure Serb area in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as a
    precondition for a peaceful settlement.
    Prosecutor v. Momčilo Krajišnik Part 6
    Accused’s responsibility 399

    1116. In January 1993, unrepentant, the Accused questioned the very existence of a Muslim identity: “the Muslims are a communist creation and that they are a religious group of Turkish orientation”, he said. In August 1994 he publicly announced that “We simply
    want to separate because we cannot live together”. This echoed Karadžić statement of July 1994, that the Bosnian Serbs had to “get rid of the enemy in our house, meaning the Croats
    and Muslims”. In November 1994, the Accused called for the ethnic cleansing of Sarajevo: “The Muslims will have to look for a capital outside of Sarajevo, somewhere else. That is the natural course of things. This town will belong to the Republika Srpska in its totality.” This implies that he would have had the same range of crimes, which he knew to be associated with ethnic cleansing, repeated against Muslim and Croat citizens of Sarajevo.

  10. Owen
    October 3, 2006 at 6:12 am

    Sorry, the third para of that last Comment should have read:

    (Regarding K’s membership of the Presidency, the defence tried hard to exonerate Krajisnik on the grounds that he was not a member of the formal tripartite Presidency but the court found that Karadzic and Krajisnik were the two essential members at meetings of the five-member Extended Presidency, *Krajisnik was* present at almost all Presidency meetings, chairing some, and he signed Presidency documents.)

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