Home > srebrenica massacre > ICJ RULES SERBIA GUILTY OF NOT PREVENTING GENOCIDE

ICJ RULES SERBIA GUILTY OF NOT PREVENTING GENOCIDE

February 27, 2007
PHOTO: Brigitte Stern, Professor at the University of Paris (L); Bosnian Professor at the University of Paris X-Nanterre Alain Pellet (2nd L); Dutch Attorney for Bosnia Phon van den Biessen (2nd R) and Bosnian agent Sakib Softic (R) sit at the ICJ (International Court of Justice) in the Hague February 26, 2007. The top U.N. court ruled on Monday that Serbia had failed in its obligation to prevent and punish genocide.

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Brief Introduction: The International Court of Justice finds that Serbia has violated its obligation under the Genocide Convention to prevent genocide in Srebrenica and that it has also violated its obligations under the Convention by having failed fully to co-operate with the International Criminal Tribunal. Bosnian agent Sakib Softic, left, shakes hands with Head of the Law Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro Radoslav Stojanovic at the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, in The Hague, the Netherlands, Monday Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court began delivering a historic ruling Monday on whether Serbia is responsible for genocide through the killing, torture, rape and expulsion of Bosnian Muslims. It is the first time an entire nation is being held to judicial account for the ultimate crime.The fact that the court found that the Serbian troops of General Ratko Mladic had committed genocide in Srebrenica came as no surprise. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had reached the same conclusion. But that tribunal only gave its verdict on individual cases, not on the complicity of governments. The ICTY never got round to dealing with the question of whether rump Yugoslavia was responsible for the genocide, mainly because the key figure, former President Milosevic, died before his trial ended. According to the statement by Chief UN War Crimes Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, to the Security Council on June 7 2006, the Prosecution has proven an international armed conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina no less than five times.

Overview of the courtroom of the the International Court of Justice in the Hague February 26, 2007, as the International Court of Justice President Judge Rosalyn Higgins (7th R) reads the verdict. The United Nations’ highest court ruled that Serbia failed to use its clear influence with Bosnian Serbs to prevent the genocide of Bosniaks at Srebrenica, but exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide or complicity in genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war.

“The acts committed at Srebrenica … were committed with the specific intent to destroy in part the group of the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina as such, and accordingly … these were acts of genocide'” committed by Bosnian Serb forces, the judgment said.

The judges took 10 months to study the case over the 1990’s war in which at least 100,000 people, mostly Bosnian Muslims, died. It took two hours for the court’s president, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, to read out the complex final verdict; all the findings are final and there can be no appeal.

Bosnian Attorney Phon van den Biessen, left, and Bosnian agent Sakib Softic, at the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, in The Hague, the Netherlands, Monday Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court ruled that Serbia failed to use its clear influence with Bosnian Serbs to prevent the genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica, but exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide or complicity in genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war. The court began delivering a historic ruling Monday on whether Serbia is responsible for genocide through the killing, torture, rape and expulsion of Bosnian Muslims. It is the first time an entire nation is being held to judicial account for the ultimate crime.“The verdict is positive for Bosnia and would improve the relations in the Balkans. The verdict made Serbia finally recognize the genocide and also confirmed Bosnia’s legal identity as a sovereign country,” a Bosnian legal expert Cazim Sadikovic said.

“I didn’t expect a different verdict,” Izet Gagic a survivor from Travnik, in central Bosnia, said. “I remember the early days of the war and how international community’s sanctions against Bosnia prevented the country from defending itself.”

In 1997, Germany handed down first Bosnia Genocide conviction to Serb soldier Nikola Jorgic for crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Oberlandesgericht Dusseldorf, “Public Prosecutor v Jorgic”, 26 September 1997).

“Whoever hoped … something like the genocide of the Nazis against the Jews could never be repeated sees himself cruelly disappointed after the events in the former Yugoslavia.” – German Judge Guenter Krentz concluded in his judgement.

The highest UN court cleared the Serbian state today of direct responsibility for genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, but said it had violated its responsibility to prevent genocide.

The International Court of Justice said Serbia also failed to comply with its obligations to punish those who carried out the genocide after the Bosnian Serb army captured the U.N. enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, and ordered Serbia to hand over suspects for trial by ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia) – a separate U.N. court.

Relatives of Srebrenica victims hold photos relating to the massacre as they prepare to leave Sarajevo in Bosnia early Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007 for the Netherlands to attend Monday's verdict by the International Court of Justice in a genocide case against Serbia and Montenegro in the Hague. Bosnia-Herzegovina filed the case in 1993 — the first time a state, rather than individuals, had been charged with genocide. In case it wins, it hopes later to seek compensation for the loss of life and property during the 1992-95 war, when over 100,000 people were killed and when entire Muslim Bosniak towns and villages were devastated.Bosnia had asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to rule on whether Serbia committed genocide through the killing, rape and ethnic cleansing that ravaged Bosnia during the war, in one of the court’s biggest cases in its 60-year history.

Bosnia submitted its genocide case to the court in 1993. Since then, the separate International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which judges individuals accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, has determined that the Serb onslaught in at least one instance, the attack on the Srebrenica enclave in 1995, amounted to genocide.

The International Court of Justice President Judge Rosalyn Higgins reads the verdict of the the International Court of Justice in the Hague February 26, 2007. The top U.N. court ruled on Monday that Serbia did not commit genocide through the killing that ravaged Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, but said Serbia had failed in its obligation to prevent and punish genocide.The case before the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, was the first time a state had been tried for genocide, outlawed in a UN convention in 1948 after the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. A judgment in Bosnia’s favor could have allowed it to seek billions of dollars of compensation from Serbia.

ICJ President Judge Rosalyn Higgins said the court concluded that the Srebrenica massacre did constitute genocide, but that other mass killings of Bosnian Muslims [Bosniaks] did not.

Bosniaks demonstrate outside the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, in The Hague, the Netherlands, Monday Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court began delivering a historic ruling Monday on whether Serbia is responsible for genocide through the killing, torture, rape and expulsion of Bosnian Muslims. It is the first time an entire nation is being held to judicial account for the ultimate crime.But she said the court ruled that the Serbian state could not be held directly responsible for genocide, so paying reparations to Bosnia would be inappropriate even though Serbia had failed to prevent genocide and punish the perpetrators.

“The court finds by 13 votes to 2 that Serbia has not committed genocide,” she said.

“The court finds that Serbia has violated the obligation to prevent genocide … in respect of the genocide that occurred in Srebrenica.”

It is important to note that the legal team of Bosnia-Herzegovina did not present all the main evidence to the Court of Justice.

As Editor-in-chief of the NTV Hayat News network, Senad Hadifejzovic, pointed out:

Bosnian Muslim man Huseinovic Hamdija says his prayer near grave stones at the memorial center of Potocari, near Srebrenica, 100 kms northeast of Sarajevo, on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007.“Unfortunately, key arguments were not submitted to the International Court of Justice in the Hague at all! The most significant evidence clearly proving the intentions and aims of Serbia were the records of the sessions Milosevic held with the military and political leadership of Montenegro are already in the Hague, but not in the premisses of the International Court of Justice but ICTY where individuals have been put on trial. However, this evidence, according to the deal made between the ICTY and the government of Serbia MAY NOT BE USED for any other purposes except the stated ones, in particular not to be used in the case of Bosnia-herzegovina vs. Serbia and Montenegro. So simply put, legal team of Bosnia-Herzegovina was not allowed at all to submit the crucial evidence to the Court of Justice at all!” (Interview
February 24th, 2007).

Head of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina Mustafa Ceric (C) and Chairman of Bosnia's tripartite presidency Sulejman Tihic (R) are seen in the courtroom of the International Court of Justice in the Hague February 26, 2007. The top U.N. court ruled on Monday that Serbia did not commit genocide through the killing that ravaged Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, but said Serbia had failed in its obligation to prevent and punish genocide.Over 8,300 Bosniaks from Srebrenica and surrounding villages in eastern Bosnia were killed in July 1995. Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic, both accused of genocide over Srebrenica, are still fugitives.

Earlier in the ruling, Higgins said the court found it established that Serbia “was making its considerable military and financial support available” to the Bosnian Serbs but that it had not known they had genocidal intent.

Serbia had said a ruling against it would be an unjust and lasting stigma on the state, which overthrew its wartime leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Milosevic died last year, just months before a verdict in his trial on 66 counts of genocide and war crimes was due. The UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague has already found individuals guilty of genocide at Srebrenica.

Bosnian women demonstrate outside the International Court of Justice in the Hague February 26, 2007. The highest U.N. court cleared Serbia on Monday of responsibility for genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, but said it had violated its obligation to prevent and punish genocideBosnia used evidence from trials there for its case against Serbia. In Bosnia, now split between a Bosniak-Croat federation and a Serb Republic, sentiment is split along ethnic lines, with Bosniaks and Croats hoping the court would brand Serbia an aggressor.

A Solomonian judgment is how some experts have responded to Monday’s ruling. Others are more negative: “a half-hearted compromise”, “neither one thing nor the other”. About 50 Srebrenica massacre survivors demonstrated outside the court on Monday in favor of a genocide verdict.Initial reactions from Bosnia have been bitter. The members of the collective presidency in the divided nation expressed “deep disappointment”.

Bosnian women demonstrate outside the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, in The Hague, the Netherlands, Monday Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court ruled that Serbia failed to use its clear influence with Bosnian Serbs to prevent the genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica, but exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide or complicity in genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war. The court began delivering a historic ruling Monday on whether Serbia is responsible for genocide through the killing, torture, rape and expulsion of Bosnian Muslims. It is the first time an entire nation is being held to judicial account for the ultimate crime.They still believe that the order to execute the Bosniak men of Srebrenica came directly from Belgrade. The ruling is likely to make it much harder for Bosnia to be eligible for compensation from Serbia.

“A ruling that Serbia committed genocide in Bosnia means everything to me,” said 34-year-old Hedija Krdzic who lost her husband, father and grandfather at Srebrenica. “Without such a ruling I fear that one day the massacre will be forgotten.”

“Shame on the people who reached such a verdict. How can they say not guilty of genocide when there are photos, video footage. They are again torturing our people, these mothers,” said Zinaida Mujic, representative of Mothers of Srebrenica association, who lost two sons in the war.

Women from Srebrenica react to television coverage from The International Court of Justice in front of a wall covered with pictures of their missing loved ones in an office in Tuzla February 26, 2007.It is almost 14 years since Bosnia first sued the rump Yugoslav state from which it seceded in 1992, but the case has been repeatedly held up by arguments over jurisdiction.

In a key ruling at the outset Monday, Judge Rosalyn Higgins rejected Serbia’s argument that the court had no jurisdiction in the case, saying Serbia had the obligation to abide by the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The fact that the court found that the Bosnian Serb troops of General Ratko Mladic had committed genocide in Srebrenica came as no surprise. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had reached the same conclusion. But that tribunal only gave its verdict on individual cases, not on the complicity of governments. The ICTY never got round to dealing with the question of whether rump Yugoslavia was responsible for the genocide, mainly because the key figure, former President Milosevic, died before his trial ended.

Relatives of victims of the 1995 Serb massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica carry photographs relating to the massacre in Sarajevo ahead of their departure for The Hague February 24, 2007.In 1995, the Eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica was packed with Muslim refugees from the entire region. Dutch troops were deployed to guarantee their safety, but they were overrun by the Bosnian Serb forces of General Ratko Mladic, still wanted for war crimes by the ICTY.

Political tensions in Bosnia rose ahead of the ICJ’s verdict, with speculation running high on television and radio and in the newspapers. Attention will now shift to the Republika Srpska, the Serb republic in Bosnia, according to one analyst: “If the orders didn’t emanate from Belgrade, they must have come Pale”.

Relatives of Srebrenica victims hold posters relating to the massacre as they prepare to leave Sarajevo in Bosnia early Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007 for the Netherlands to attend Monday's verdict by the International Court of Justice in a genocide case against Serbia and Montenegro in the Hague.He was referring to the then capital of the Republika Srpska, which is now one of the two “entities” in Bosnia. As it enjoys a large measure of autonomy, it remains a thorn in the eyes of many non-Serbs in Bosnia.

Observers say Sarayevo will now try to end the Republika Srpska’s autonomy on the grounds that “its very existence is founded on genocide”. In other words: without the mass slaughter of thousands of Muslims, the RS would never have existed. Bosniak politicians have long called for terminating the Serbian entity’s special status.

Other analysts believe that the UN court has tried to alleviate the pain for Serbia, which now looks set to lose Kosovo. The mainly Albanian-populated province, administered by the international community, is officially still part of Serbia, but recent proposals by special UN envoy Martii Ahtisaari would give it more self-rule. And although Belgrade is dead set against the idea, Kosovo now seems firmly on the road towards independence. “

A forensic expert of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) holds a skull at the ICMP centre near Tuzla February 26, 2007 while trying to identify remains of a victim of a 1995 Srebrenica massacre.In order not to alienate Serbia entirely from the international community, the UN court just had to come up with a compromise,” was one of the comments on Monday.

Speaking in Belgrade, Serbian Prime Minister Boris Tadic said the ruling, while generally ‘positive’, had the ‘very serious’ aspect that it confirmed Serbia did not do everything in its power to stop the Srebrenica genocide. He said he would ask the Serbian parliament to adopt a declaration condemning the crimes committed in Srebrenica.

The head of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party Tomislav Nikolic, whose former party boss Vojislav Seselj has been tried before The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said he was worried about the fate of the Bosnian Serb entity, the Srpska Republic, following the verdict.

Women from Srebrenica react to television coverage from the The International Court of Justice in front of a wall covered with pictures of their missing loved ones in an office in Tuzla February 26, 2007. The top U.N. court ruled on Monday that Serbia did not commit genocide through the killing that ravaged Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, but said Serbia had failed in its obligation to prevent and punish genocide.Haris Silajdzic, Bosniak member of Bosnia’s tripartite state Presidency, stressed that the ICJ’s ruling should mark the beginning of a process to erase results of genocide in Bosnia.

“Results of the genocide should be annulled with a new constitution to create a democratic system in accordance with Bosnia’s multiethnic society as it was before the genocide.” He said the current Bosnian constitution, which created two entities, the Srpska Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, was based on ethno-territorial principles and genocide, and must be dismissed as such.

Mr Silajdzic told ABC News that despite the verdict he will continue to call for the abolition of the Serb Republic. He feels that Serbia and Montenegro have escaped responsibility for their complicity in genocide during the Bosnian War.

Forensic experts of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) examine bones at the ICMP centre near Tuzla February 26, 2007 while trying to identify remains of victims of a 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The highest U.N. court cleared Serbia on Monday of responsibility for genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, but said it had violated its obligation to prevent and punish genocide.“Bosnia-Herzegovina must therefore purge itself of the remnants of the genocide that permeates throughout Bosnian society. We will achieve this by altering what has been founded on the genocide’s outcome — the interior structure of Bosnia and its constitution,” Silajdzic said.

The Chairman of Bosnia’s Presidency Nebojsa Radmanovic warned that the verdict would provoke bitter feelings and disappointment in Bosnia, and would increase the tensions in the country.

Bosnian Muslim Vasva Smajlovic, 64, reacts during a live TV broadcast from the World Court decision in The Hague, at her the home in the village of Potocari near Srebrenica, Bosnia Monday, Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court on Monday exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for the mass slaughter of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica during the 1992-95 Bosnia war, but ruled that it failed to prevent genocide.“This decision will provoke some tensions. I hope those tensions will not further grow into large demonstrations,” said Radmanovic.

Milorad Dodik, prime minister of the Republic of Srpska, said that individuals must be held responsible for the crimes committed in Srebrenica and not the institutions or the people of Serbia as a whole.

Legal experts in Bosnia-Herzegovina said the verdict was disappointing for the country, especially for the families of the victims, but should however help in building the peace and reconciliation between the former Yugoslav states.

Forensic experts of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) work at the ICMP centre near Tuzla February 26, 2007 while trying to identify remains of a victim of a 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The highest U.N. court cleared Serbia on Monday of responsibility for genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, but said it had violated its obligation to prevent and punish genocide.“The verdict is positive for Bosnia and would improve the relations in the Balkans. The verdict made Serbia finally recognize the genocide and also confirmed Bosnia’s legal identity as a sovereign country,” a Bosnian legal expert Cazim Sadikovic said.

In its ruling in The Hague, the court said that Bosnian Serbs operated under a degree of independence from the central government in Belgrade.

The German Ambassador and representative of the German EU Presidency in BiH, Michael Schmunk called on Belgrade on Monday to understand the ICJ verdict in the case of BiH lawsuit against Serbia and Montenegro as an opportunity to distance itself from the crimes committed by Milosevic’s regime on behalf of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and to establish full cooperation with the ICTY.

Bosnian Muslim woman Halida Sandjic, 60, of Srebrenica, reacts during a live TV broadcast from the World Court decision in The Hague, at her the home in the village of Potocari near Srebrenica, Bosnia, Monday, Feb. 26, 2007.BBC journalist Alain Little, who reported from Sarajevo during the war in the former Yugoslavia, also known as the author of documentary “The fall of Yugoslavia”, declared that the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has not put an end to case Srebrenica.

The Chief Prosecutor of The Hague Tribunal, Carla del Ponte said on Monday that she is “very satisfied” with the verdict rendered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which states that the massacre in Srebrenica constitutes genocide.

Professors at the Faculty of Islamic Sciences in Sarajevo Resid Hafizovic said on Monday that the verdict of the International Court of Justice has not come as a surprise to him, that it is a political verdict because the ICJ has been under strong political pressure.

Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik stated charges that Serbia failed to prevent genocide can be responded to with the question “why have the UN failed to prevent it, even though they were present on the ground, but perhaps no one has sued them yet”.

Esrefa Alic, a survivor of 1995 Srebrenica massacre, reacts to television coverage from the The International Court of Justice in an office in Tuzla February 26, 2007.Party of Democratic Action (SDA) President Sulejman Tihic told FENA that he is not entirely satisfied with the verdict delivered by the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

However, he added, the court did establish that genocide was committed in BiH, that many mass crimes were committed, that the RS authorities are to blame, and that they received military, financial and logistical support from Yugoslavia.

“I am pleased with the fact that Yugoslavia has been found responsible for breaching the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide by or failing to stop or diminish genocide in Srebrenica. They are responsible for not punishing the perpetrators, they are responsible for not cooperating with the ICTY and they are responsible for not acting in accordance with the court’s temporary measure requesting them to do all in their power to stop genocide in BiH, the temporary measure from September 13 1993”, Tihic said,

Bosnian Muslim Fadila Efendic, 56, of Srebrenica, reacts during a live TV broadcast from the World Court decision in The Hague, at her the home in the village of Potocari near Srebrenica, Bosnia 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Sarajevo, Monday, Feb. 26, 2007.I am dissatisfied, he said, with the fact that Yugoslavia has not been identified as the perpetrator and being directly responsible for genocide.

The Mothers of Srebrenica are dissatisfied with the verdict of the ICJ. The Association representatives heard the verdict Monday in front of the ICJ building in Hague, together with the Associations of Endangered Nations and other non-governmental organizations, and the representatives of BiH Diaspora.

This was the least-expected kind of a verdict, which revolted a number of mothers from Srebrenica. They spontaneously started walking towards the gates of the Court, after hearing the verdict and shouted “Genocide!”, “Justice for BiH” and “Murderers”.

Fadila Memisevic, the President of the Bosnian section of the Association of the Endangered Nations, told the FENA agency that the ICJ judges heard these exclamations.

Bosnian Muslim woman Raza Hasanovic, 60, weeps as she watch a live TV broadcast from The Hague, in the Netherlands Monday, Feb. 26, 2007 in Potocari, 4 km from Srebrenica in Bosnia. The United Nations' highest court began delivering a historic ruling Monday on whether Serbia is responsible for genocide through the killing, torture, rape and expulsion of Bosnian Muslims — the first time an entire nation is being held to judicial account for the ultimate crime. In a key ruling at the outset, Judge Rosalyn Higgins rejected Serbia's argument that the court had no jurisdiction in the case, saying Serbia had the obligation to abide by the 1948 Genocide Convention throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian war.“We were far too naïve in the belief that the Court will pass a righteous verdict. This verdict is a continuity of the events that have been going on since 1992, and that includes a constant denial and tabooing of the BiH genocide”, Memisevic said.

She said the verdict is politically influenced, and for that reason the Association of Endangered Nations sent a letter to the ICJ. The letter states that the Court completely ignored the Convention on Preventing and Punishing Genocide, for in it, all the arguments of the BiH suit are written.

The former legal representative of BiH in the case of BiH versus Serbia and Montenegro for genocide Dr. Kasim Trnka, said that it is important that the UN highest legal instance, the ICJ, confirmed that there was a genocide in BiH, in Srebrenica.

Relatives of Srebrenica victims hold photos relating to the massacre as they prepare to leave Sarajevo in Bosnia early Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007 for the Netherlands to attend Monday's verdict by the International Court of Justice in a genocide case against Serbia and Montenegro in the Hague.Commenting the elements of verdict to the FENA agency on Monday, Trnka said that Serbia is found guilty for not providing measures the ICJ had ordered them in April and September 1993, and emphasized that had they done so, the Srebrenica and many other crimes would never had happened.

Trnka said, that Serbia was convicted for not having done anything to prevent the crime, nor had it done anything to punish the perpetrators of genocide, although it could have.

According to him, Serbia has also been found guilty for refusing to cooperate with the ICTY, and that the ICJ stated that the regular forces of the then-Yugoslav Army (military, police and quasi-military formations) were present in BiH, which undoubtedly confirms the aggression to BiH.

Relatives of Srebrenica victims hold photos relating to the massacre as they prepare to leave Sarajevo in Bosnia early Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007 for the Netherlands to attend Monday's verdict by the International Court of Justice in a genocide case against Serbia and Montenegro in the Hague. Bosnia-Herzegovina filed the case in 1993 — the first time a state, rather than individuals, had been charged with genocide. In case it wins, it hopes later to seek compensation for the loss of life and property during the 1992-95 war, when an estimated 200,000 people were killed and when entire Muslim Bosniak towns and villages were devastated.”The truth is that the Court confirmed that Serbia allegedly did not commit the crime of genocide through its own organs, nor could it have influenced the Bosnian Serb organs to do so”, Trnka said, adding that a very bad message was sent to the International Community in such a way, regarding the prevention of the crime of genocide.

In that context, Trnka is of the opinion that the Court of Justice declared Serbia responsible, but not for all the elements of the crime of genocide.

The Croatian president Stjepan Mesić declared this afternoon that he had not yet seen the Judgment of the International Court of Justice in the Hague in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. FRY, and therefore could not comment on it, but he did affirm that a genocide had been committed in Srebrenica.

Survivers of the war in former Yugoslavia protest outside the Peace Palace in The Hague, against the verdict of the International Court of Justice. Muslim and Croat victims of Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, including Srebrenica massacre survivors, were outraged today at a ruling by the UN's top court to clear Serbia of genocide against Bosnia“That a genocide was committed in Srebrenica is clear to everybody, including the judges of the International Court of Justice in the Hague. If 8,000 people are killed, if men older than 16/17 years are separated and shot within a few days, this can be nothing else but genocide. At least this part of the verdict is acceptable”, he said.

Asked whether the Judgment in the case BiH vs. FRY will have an effect on Croatia, which had sued the former FRY for war crimes, Mesić sadi that Croatia was certainly going to study this Judgment and see how to proceed in this lawsuit. As concerns Croatia, it has several approaches at its disposal. For example, Montenegro has already paid the damage for the plundered livestock in Konavle, whereby it recognized the damage done by its citizens in the uniforms of the former JNA. A similar approach could be agreed upon concerning the plundered equipment of the airport of Dubrovnik. The Dubrovnik airport could be indemnified by letting it have some share in the Tivat airport in Montenegro.

Serbian President Boris Tadic gives a statement in Belgrade. The UN's top court on Monday cleared Serbia of direct involvement in genocide during the war in Bosnia, but said Belgrade did breach international law by failing to prevent the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica.The Association of Victims of Genocide in BiH, which is made up of a number of BiH non-governmental organizations expressed their dissatisfaction on Monday with the ICJ verdict in the case of BiH versus Serbia and Montenegro for genocide.

Some of the Association representatives stated at the press-conference, hald an hour after the passing of the verdict, that the BiH legal team put in maximum of efforts to prove the guilt of Serbia and Montenegro for genocide, but that the survivors of the genocide are dissatisfied with the verdict.

The International Community refuses to look the truth in the eyes and is placing itself to the side of the aggressor, were some of the comments made by the Association representatives, who ask what other proofs needed to be handed in order for the Court to admit that Serbia and Montenegro committed a genocide.

Head of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina Mustafa Ceric, left, Bosnian agent Sakib Softic, front center, and former Bosnia president, Sulejman Tihic, right, now head of Bosnia's Party for Democratic Action, speak at the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, in The Hague, the Netherlands, Monday Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court ruled that Serbia failed to use its clear influence with Bosnian Serbs to prevent the genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica, but exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide or complicity in genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war. The court began delivering a historic ruling Monday on whether Serbia is responsible for genocide through the killing, torture, rape and expulsion of Bosnian Muslims. It is the first time an entire nation is being held to judicial account for the ultimate crime.Murat Tahirovic, the President of the Camp Survivors’ Union said that the verdict denies the international legal system, and points out that he does not know the amount of consequences our country will suffer because of the verdict.

The BiH Organization of the Fallen Fighters expressed disappointment with the verdict, hoping that one day truth will prevail. Izet Ganic, the President of this Organization told the International Community that it has to bear in mind that Serbia is still an instability factor in the region.

Head of the Law Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, Radoslav Stojanovic, left, and member of the International Law Commission, Ian Brownlie, right, at the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, in The Hague, the Netherlands, Monday Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court ruled that Serbia failed to use its clear influence with Bosnian Serbs to prevent the genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica, but exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide or complicity in genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war. The court began delivering a historic ruling Monday on whether Serbia is responsible for genocide through the killing, torture, rape and expulsion of Bosnian Muslims. It is the first time an entire nation is being held to judicial account for the ultimate crime.Amor Masovic, the President of the State Commission of Finding the Missing Persons is of the opinion that BiH has succeeded, although not in the full capacity of the suit to prove that Serbia and Montenegro were involved in the genocide committed in BiH.

Masovic pointed out that the Court did not have the evidence of the direct involvement of Serbia and Montenegro in the genocide, but that it does not mean that in due time BiH will not be able to prove their direct involvement.

However, Masovic sees certain contradictions in the very verdict, like the fact that the Court has revoked the ICTY verdicts at some points, while avoiding them at other.

From left: Vice-President of the Court Judge Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, British President of the Court, Judge Rosalyn Higgins and Judge Raymond Ranjeva at the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, in The Hague, the Netherlands, Monday Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court ruled that Serbia failed to use its clear influence with Bosnian Serbs to prevent the genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica, but exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide or complicity in genocide in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war. The court began delivering a historic ruling Monday on whether Serbia is responsible for genocide through the killing, torture, rape and expulsion of Bosnian Muslims. It is the first time an entire nation is being held to judicial account for the ultimate crime. The BiH Association of Victims will organize a rally on Tuesday, February 27, under a slogan “Justice for the BiH Genocide Victims”. There they will clearly state the attitudes and demands to the BiH institutions. The rally will take place at 3 p.m. in front of the BiH Institutions. The BiH legal team will be greeted there.

The Social-Democratic Union (SDU) leadership thinks that the delivery of the verdict by the International Court of Justice in the Hague has closed a stage in BiH history marked by suffering, primarily of the Bosniak people, but also catastrophic policies of the state leadership, especially the part that in politics described itself as Bosniak leaders, SDU President Sejfudin Tokic told a press conference in Sarajevo on Monday.

According to him BiH and its citizens are not entering a difficult period, which instead of emotions and daily politics calls for sense and well thought-out policies characterised by patriotism and unity of all peoples in BiH who see BiH as their country.

A Bosniak girl carries a leaf to decorate a grave of her relative buried at a cemetery in Potocari among other victims of the 1995 Serb massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the former U.N. 'safe area' Srebrenica February 24, 2007.“In this context the SDU Presidency wished to present to the public a declaration on need for unifying the opposition, building an alternative and strengthening forces that represent true social-democracy”, Tokic said.

SDU Vice President Ivo Komsic said that courts exist to establish justice, not for political reasons.

“We cannot comment on the verdict, regardless of its contents. We can be more or less frustrated by its, dissatisfied, aggravated, but we need to develop the policy of this country’s future”, he said.

We are, Komsic said, dissatisfied with the verdict, but we cannot comment on it.

SDU Vice President Miro Lazovic said that if he were to speak as a citizen he would not be able to hide his sadness and dissatisfaction with the verdict because he has survived and witnessed all actions that constitute aggression, genocide and crime.

Names of victims of the 1995 Serb massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the former U.N. 'safe area' Srebrenica are seen in front of their graves at a cemetery in Potocari February 24, 2007.“If I am to speak as a politician then I would have to leave my emotions aside. Different emotions and dissatisfactions that will pour to the streets of BiH should not be allowed to further complicate the already complicated political and economic situation in BiH”, Lazovic said.

He thinks that this situation requires from politicians to show responsibility and maturity, and political parties to propose further steps that will build BiH on the principles of greater understanding, truth, tolerance and justice.

“I have received this verdict emotionally, but I also see it as closing a chapter that has been filled with extreme national charge, impassioned divisions that have led us to the suffering of people in this area. This has to be seen clearly following the verdict and we need to say enough to policies dividing these areas and these peoples”, Lazovic said.

A bus carrying some 50 relatives of Srebrenica victims prepare to leave Sarajevo in Bosnia early Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007 for the Netherlands to attend Monday's verdict by the International Court of Justice in a genocide case against Serbia and Montenegro in the Hague. Bosnia-Herzegovina filed the case in 1993 — the first time a state, rather than individuals, had been charged with genocide. In case it wins, it hopes later to seek compensation for the loss of life and property during the 1992-95 war, when an estimated 200,000 people were killed and when entire Muslim Bosniak towns and villages were devastatedRadoslav Stojanovic, the Chief Attorney of Serbia and Montenegro stated Monday that the International Court of Justice’s verdict in the case of BiH versus Serbia and Montenegro for genocide means in no way that the guilt for the genocide is now placed upon the RS.

”I am satisfied with the verdict, for this is what I have been expecting”, Stojanovic said and added that the verdict opens the way to the national reconciliation.

He pointed out that the ICJ verdict is good for both Serbia and BiH.

A Bosnian Muslim woman survivors of the Srebrenica massacre Sabra Mujic, 54,displays photographs of her loved ones who were killed in 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces took the enclave of Srebrenica, in her room in the Bosnian village of Podlugovi, near Sarajevo, Monday, Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court on Monday exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for the mass slaughter of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica during the 1992-95 Bosnia war, but ruled that it failed to prevent genocide.ICJ passed a verdict Monday in the case of BiH versus Serbia and Montenegro, which confirmed that the crime of genocide had taken place in Srebrenica, but that there is no reasonable doubt to claim that Serbia is responsible for it, nor for participation in the genocide. However, the verdict states that Serbia is responsible in the sense of breeching the obligations of prevention and punishing the genocide committers.

Banja Luka lawyer and attorney for several indicted war criminals before the Hague Tribunal Krstan Simic said on Monday that the verdict of the International Court of Justice on the BiH lawsuit against Serbia would cause a storm of reactions by legal and political commentators, as well as “certain reactions by people on the ground who have always viewed all events through there prism and their truth”.

Bosnian Muslim woman Fatima Bektic, 56, right, survivors of the Srebrenica massacre, reacts during a live TV broadcast from the World Court decision in The Hague, at her in the village of Podlugovi near Sarajevo, Bosnia, Monday, Feb. 26, 2007. The United Nations' highest court on Monday exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for the mass slaughter of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica during the 1992-95 Bosnia war, but ruled that it failed to prevent genocide.Simic said that he expected such a verdict “even though there were hints that the verdict could be a political one, but the presented arguments have shown that the judges of that court have taken into consideration real facts”.

“The fact that the responsibility of Serbia can be viewed through the prism of failure to prevent genocide is reflected in the fact that in 1992 the court adopted a temporary measure requesting Serbia, i.e. Yugoslavia at that time, to take certain measures and the conclusion is that Serbia did not adequately fulfil commitments from that court request”, he said.

Women from Srebrenica react to television coverage from the The International Court of Justice in front of a wall covered with pictures of their missing loved ones in an office in Tuzla February 26, 2007. The top U.N. court ruled on Monday that Serbia did not commit genocide through the killing that ravaged Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, but said Serbia had failed in its obligation to prevent and punish genocide.He described as negative for Serbia the fact that the verdict establishes that Serbia did not take all possible measures to prevent genocide in Srebrenica, as well as certain negative qualifications from the verdict, including the lack of cooperation with the ICTY, the failure to arrest and hand over Mladic, who is identified as the most responsible person for the events and genocide in Srebrenica.

Simic said that the court has established that Serbia did not commit genocide, that it was not complicit to genocide, and that it did not take part through its state organises in carrying out genocide in BiH.

Bosnian agent Sakib Softic (C) shakes hands with Head of the Law Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro Radoslav Stojanovic (R) while Dutch Attorney for Bosnia Phon van den Biesen looks on at the International Court of Justice in the Hague February 26, 2007. The top U.N. court ruled on Monday that Serbia did not commit genocide through the killing that ravaged Bosnia during the 1992-95 war, but said Serbia had failed in its obligation to prevent and punish genocide. He also said that the court rejected BiH’s claims that is should be compensated, and described as an important contribution to international law the court’s conclusion that deportations in all directions that were frequent in BiH do not constitute genocide, nor do the concentration camps or detention centres.

“The court has also established that the encirclement and shelling of Sarajevo does not constitute genocide, nor do certain military actions that have caused enormous damage”, Simic said and stressed that for the first time in international customary law and contact the judges have concluded that genocide can exist in a limited area, and that in the case of BiH they have limited their decision solely to the events of July 11 1995 at Srebrenica.

He told journalists that the verdict has through precisely stated positions defined answers to all questions raised by the BiH lawsuit.

Some NGOs in Serbia mainland strongly criticised the verdict, however.

Biljana Kovacevic Vuco, president of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, said the verdict represented “victory for the politics of Slobodan Milosevic, the victory of Ratko Mladic, of Vojislav Kostunica and Serbia’s [ultra-nationalist] Radicals.’

The verdict will not help Serbia confront its past, Aleksandar Popov, of the NGO Igman Initative said.

“The Srebrenica verdict is only symbolic and does not give the complete picture of Serbia’s role in the wars of the last decade,” Popov said.

The head of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Andrej Nosov, said he hoped the verdict would mean Serbia could no longer deny it had nothing to do with events in Srebrenica.

“The verdict opens a moral question about what Serbia could have done to prevent genocide in Bosnia,” Nosov said.

“Regardless of the verdict, Serbia has an obligation to tell the whole truth about the victims and give them justice and reparations,” he added.

The president of Vojvodina’s Social Democratic League, Nenad Canak, condemned the ICJ verdict. “Let Bosnia’s blood and ashes rest on the hands of all those who made such a judgment,” he said.

MAPS:

1. Ethnic Composition of Bosnia-Herzegovina before the war, 1991: (Green = Bosniaks, Red = Bosnian Serbs, Blue = Bosnian Croats)

Srebrenica massacre survivors protest outside the Peace Palace in The Hague, against the verdict of the International Court of Justice.



2. Ethnic Composition of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2006, 11 years after ethnic cleansing ended: (Green = Bosniaks, Blue = Bosnian Serbs, Red = Bosnian Croats)

  1. Yakima_Gulag
    February 27, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    I have not read the entire decision, and will comment further after I read the whole thing.
    For now, my initial reaction is on my own blog, and just to restate it, if you have a responsibility to prevent something and then do not, you are guilty, you are at least an accessory to the crime.
    I used the example of if I had icy steps and some one visits my house and falls, because I failed to take care of de-iceing, and shoveling snow, I am financially and morally responsible.
    It may not be the best example, suppose I knew a guy definatly planned to rob a store? Suppose he had a gun? Suppose he was willing to kill the owner of the store?
    I have a responsibility to report what I know to the police. Maybe the police don’t do anything, but at least if I reported it, I am not part of the crime.
    If I fail to report it though, and the guy comes over with a case of champagne and some meat he stole from the store, then I become an accessory after the fact.
    I am not satisfied with this decision. I do not see how this kind of weak decision helps anyone.
    It doesn’t even help the Serbs, because if some people wanted to commit genocide against the Serbs, in the end they could point to this decision. If I were a Serb, I would not sleep easily after this ruling.
    The ruling was like saying ‘They aren’t guilty but they are guilty.’

  2. Sal Defazio
    February 27, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    The heinous acts against the Muslims are trully reprehensible and atrocious! The Muslims of Bosnia, deserve reparations to their fullest. Even by giving them reparations, the blood will ‘never be washed away’ from their hands. Reparations are the least of what should be given.
    But let me console my brothers and sisters that the true Judge is above us all and the Bosniaks will be given their true reward in the hereafter.

  3. Seesaw
    February 28, 2007 at 12:29 am

    My comment: I survived in Sarajevo – from 1992 – 1995. (Mind you I was born in Sarajevo in 1942 and am still living there), visited Srebrenica and had the honour to talk with women from Srebrenica, who lost their children and are living (two years ago) without roof over their head and with scarcely any food…
    Woe to human beings!!! All over the world!!! In Srebrenica, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Darfur, in Somalia, woe to human beings who were killed in WWII, WWI, woe to all victims of the politics that are ruling over this planet! The death is the death. Human being deserves to live!

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