VASO TODOROVIC FOUND GUILTY
Serb war criminal Vaso Todorovic – who confessed to having taken part in the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide – has been sentenced to six years in prison for crimes against humanity after striking a plea bargain deal with prosecutors to avoid Srebrenica genocide charges. The Court noted that Todorovic’s case provides direct evidence of the existence of the plan to expel the women and children and murder the Bosniak men at a time earlier than that found in ICTY judgments on the events in Srebrenica.
The Court accepted a plea agreement under which Todorović pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the crime against humanity. The Court sentenced him to six years of imprisonment dating from 28 May 2007 when he entered custody.
Todorović was a member of the special police detachment of the Second Sekovići Police Detachment. On about 11 July 1995 he and his unit received orders to search the Bosniak villages near Potočari in the UN Protected Enclave of Srebrenica.
The order was to search for all Bosniaks and to separate the men from the women and children. The women and children were to be taken to a collection centre in Potočari from where they would be permanently expelled from their homes in the Srebrenica area. The men were to be taken to another location before being summarily executed.
On 12 July 1995 Todorović and his unit unsuccessfully searched for Bosniak civilians. That day and the next he and his unit kept open the main road to allow the unhindered passage out of the enclave of buses containing women and children.
On 13 July 1995 Todorović and his unit participated in capturing thousands of Bosniak men trying to escape from the enclave through the woods. The prisoners were taken to a meadow in Sandići where General Ratko Mladić addressed them, in the presence of Special Police deputy commander Colonel Ljubiša Borovčanin. Todorović and his unit then escorted a column of around 1,000 prisoners from the meadow to the nearby Kravica Warehouse, knowing that they would be executed there.
The prisoners were put into the warehouse. Members of Todorović´s unit then murdered them using machine gun, rifle fire and hand grenades. The Court found that at least 1,000 prisoners were murdered in about an hour and a half. Only two prisoners survived. Todorović and other members of his unit stood guard in a semi-circle at the front the warehouse to prevent prisoners from escaping. Borovčanin arrived at the warehouse about fifteen minutes into the shooting.
The Court found that Todorović himself did not directly participate in the murders but had a high degree of criminal liability because of his assistance to those who murdered the prisoners. The Court found that Todorović protested the orders and did not himself shoot the victims. Todorović was of the lowest rank in his unit.
The Court found that the plan to round up and summarily execute thousands of Bosniak male citizens and expel the women and children from Srebrenica required a high degree of organization and the participation of numerous soldiers, and police like Vaso Todorović.
The Court noted that Todorović provides direct evidence of the existence of the plan to expel the women and children and murder the Bosniak men at a time earlier than that found in ICTY judgments on the events in Srebrenica
In sentencing Todorović the Court recognized his substantial aid to the Prosecutor´s Office in providing investigatory assistance and his undertaking to testify against the direct perpetrators of the murders. His assistance is so valuable that the Court substantially reduced the sentence it would otherwise have imposed. The Court also significantly reduced the sentence because of his plea of guilty and his public acknowledgement of his own actions and those of his unit.
His plea of guilty has reduced the cost to the community of a trial and spared witnesses such as the two survivors of the massacre from having to testify again. His testimony in other cases will help the justice process in Bosnia and Herzegovina.