PHOTO: View of Sarajevo with newly built Avaz Twist Tower – the Balkan’s tallest residential building – located in Marijin Dvor business district.
The visiting delegation consists of Judges Moloto (presiding), David and Picard from Trial Chamber I, as well as members of the Prosecution and Defence teams in the case and officials from the Tribunal’s Registry.
The Trial Chamber decided to conduct the site visit on its own accord. The Trial Chamber considered that it would be assisted to visit locations relevant to the case “in order to gain a better understanding of the facts at issue”.
Perišić is the most senior officer of the Yugoslav Army to go on trial for crimes committed during the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. He is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, inhumane acts and attacks on civilians committed between 1993 and 1995 in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Zagreb.
The Indictment alleges that Perišić provided significant personnel, material and logistical assistance to the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Army of Serbian Krajina (SVK) in Croatia. According to the Indictment, the provision and payment of VJ officers serving in the VRS and the SVK was done secretly to hide the involvement of the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia.
Perišić is charged with aiding and abetting the planning, preparation, or execution of a military campaign of shelling and sniping in civilian areas of Sarajevo between August 1993 and November 1995, which resulted in the killing and wounding of thousands of civilians. He is also charged with the shelling of civilian areas in the city of Zagreb in May 1995, resulting in the killing and wounding of a number of civilians.
He is further accused of aiding and abetting the crimes of extermination, murder and persecutions in Srebrenica between July and November 1995, where his subordinates serving in the VRS, including General Ratko Mladić, captured and executed several thousand Bosnian Muslim men and subsequently engaged in a comprehensive effort to conceal the killings by reburying bodies exhumed from the original mass graves.
The Indictment against Perišić was confirmed on 24 February 2005 and made public on 7 March 2005, when the accused was transferred into the Tribunal’s custody. The Prosecution filed the Second Amended Indictment on 5 February 2008. The trial began on 2 October 2008.
PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Bosnian parliament during his visit to Sarajevo May 19, 2009. Biden arrived in Bosnia on Tuesday hoping to bolster a country still plagued by instability and ethnic division 14 years after the end of the Srebrenica genocide – Europe’s worst genocide since World War Two.
In September, Biden met with Rusmin Topalovic (view photo), president of the Association of Survivors of the Srebrenica Genocide in Saint Louis, and offered his wholehearted support to the survivors of the worst European carnage since World War II.
The Bosnian war claimed at least 100,000 lives and forced more than two million people to flee their homes as refugees. The 1995 Srebrenica genocide ended with 30,000 Bosniaks forcibly deported from the enclave in a mass scale ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Bosnian Serbs. In a matter of several days, Serbs summarily executed at least 8,372 Bosniaks, including at least 500 children, and dumped them into mass graves.
Biden has friendly relations with the Congress of North American Bosniaks (view photo), a highly effective organization that lobbies on behalf of Bosnia-Herzegovina and 350,000 Bosniaks living in the United States and Canada. In a photo provided by the Congress of North American Bosniaks, Mr. Biden shakes hands with the vice president Murat Muratovic.
Biden’s strong advocacy for human rights helped bring about U.S. military assistance and intervention against well armed Serb forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Biden consistently argued for lifting the arms embargo and training Bosnian government forces, so they could defend the country from Serbian aggression. He also argued for investigating war crimes and administering NATO air strikes.
Biden’s subsequent “lift and strike” resolution was instrumental in convincing President Bill Clinton to use military force in the face of systemic human rights violations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Biden has called his role in affecting Balkans policy his “proudest moment in public life” that related to foreign policy.
In Sarajevo as the highest-level US official to visit Bosnia since President Bill Clinton in 1999, Biden issued a stern warning to parliamentarians representing the country’s Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.
In a speech to Bosnia’s ethnically mixed parliament, Biden pressed local leaders to agree on constitutional reforms that would bring progress and prosperity through Euro-Atlantic integration.
“The door is open for the countries of this region for the first time in history to be an integral part of a free Europe. The US will help you walk through that door,” Biden told the deputies.
“My country is worried… about the direction your country, your future, the future of your children is taking,” Biden told the Bosnian parliamentarians.
“For three years we have seen a sharp and dangerous rise in nationalist rhetoric… the very language that destroys states.
After more than three years of war, the United States brokered a peace agreement in 1995 in Dayton, Ohio. The deal preserved the country’s international borders but divided it into two ministates — one for Bosnia’s Christian Orthodox Serbs, the other to be shared by Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats.
After Bosnia and Herzegovina, Biden will visit Belgrade, Serbia, and then Pristina, Republic of Kosovo. During this trip, Biden is expected to spend a day in each country meeting top local and international officials. He will also address each country’s parliament.
In 1998, Congressional Quarterly named Biden one of “Twelve Who Made a Difference” for playing a lead role in several foreign policy matters, including NATO enlargement and the successful passage of bills to streamline foreign affairs agencies and punish religious persecution overseas.
PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden talks with Haris Silajdzic, member of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s collective presidency before their meeting in Sarajevo May 19, 2009. Biden arrived in Bosnia on Tuesday hoping to bolster a country still plagued by instability and ethnic division 14 years after the genocide in Srebrenica. The 1995 Srebrenica genocide resulted in the ethnic cleansing of 30,000 Bosniaks, as well as summary executions of 8,372 people – including hundreds of children.
PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (3rd L), EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana (2nd L) and Valetnin Inzko, the international peace envoy to Bosnia (L) meet members of Bosnia’s collective presidency and other officials in Sarajevo early May 19, 2009. Biden arrived in Bosnia on Tuesday hoping to bolster a country still plagued by instability and ethnic division 14 years after the end of the Srebrenica genocide – Europe’s worst genocide since the Holocaust.
PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Bosnian parliament during his visit to Sarajevo May 19, 2009. Biden arrived in Bosnia on Tuesday hoping to bolster a country still plagued by instability and ethnic division 14 years after the Srebrenica genocide – Europe’s worst genocide since World War Two.
PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden prepares to board his plane prior to departure from Sarajevo International Airport, Wednesday May 20, 2009.
“Who could ever have imagined 50 years after ‘Never Again’, after Auschwitz, Treblinka, Mautthausen, Oranienburg Sachsenhausen… that we would again see concentration camps (photos), mass expulsions, mass murder… that genocide would happen again? And happen again it did, in the heart of Europe – in Bosnia & Herzegovina.” – Fadila Memišević
TRANSCRIPT / TRANSLATION
Today, on the birthday of Sarajevo, as citizens of Sarajevo like to call it, we are organising a worldwide campaign to commemorate and remember the victims of genocide – not just in Bosnia & Herzegovina but all around the world. We are organizing this event together with the US Genocide Prevention Project organization.
Mario Mančić, Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Croatia:
We are gathered here today in order to mark out the Sarajevo Rose – at the place where a crime was committed – as a way of keeping alive the memory of what happened. The most important thing is that it is young people from all across the region who are doing this together. So we have come from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, from Montenegro, to mark out this spot together as part of our programme of joint activities with partner organizations.
Sarah Harović, Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Montenegro:
I am Sarah Harović and I have come from Podgorica ahead of Youth Initiative Montenegro and – I am here also with the Youth Initiative Bosnia &Herzegovina – we are here together with the rest of the team from across the region. There are representatives from Croatia – from Zagreb, Youth Initiative Zagreb, there are people from Serbia – Youth Initiative Serbia.
I consider it a great honour that we, as young people and as people from across the region, are able to take part today in a really great activity like painting the Sarajevo roses which is important to all of you and also to us young people, firstly of course because we were unable to do anything ourselves in the past but also I think we can help build better relations and create a better future for ourselves – a better future for all of us in the region.
Fadila Memišević, Director of Society for Threatened Peoples – BiH:
We came here to send a message out to the world – and to the United Nations in particular – that preventive action must be taken to ensure that genocides will happen never again. Who could ever have imagined 50 years after “Never Again”, after Auschwitz, Treblinka, Mautthausen, Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen… that we would again see concentration camps (see photos), mass expulsions, mass murder… that genocide would happen again? And happen again it did, in the heart of Europe – in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
From Genocide Prevention Project’s press release:
“I lost my whole family during the crimes committed in Srebrenica. Today, all I hope for is to find the remains of my sons and my husband and to bury them properly,” said Hatidza Mehmedovic, a Srebrenica survivor and President of the Mothers of Srebrenica.
“Together, as survivors of genocide, we come together to raise our collective voice to call on the international community to stop and prevent mass atrocities and genocide all over the world. The world failed to stop these crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but we call for action today in Darfur.”
“Today, we send a strong message to all the governments of the former Yugoslavia that those responsible for genocide, such as Ratko Mladic, must be held accountable and sent to the ICTY for prosecution and punishment,” said Fadila Memisevic, Director of the Society for Threatened Peoples – Bosnia & Herzegovina.
“In addition, we stand in solidarity with all other survivors of genocide around the world to demand that those responsible for the horrendous crimes committed in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur are held accountable.”
The International Association of Genocide Scholars held its 7th biennial meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 9-13 July 2007. Also in 2005, Dr. Kathleen Young took students with her to the Genocide Conference and memorial service to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. Please watch her video:
For translated transcript of this video, click here.
Youth from throughout the former Yugoslavia repaint “Sarajevo Rose” to urge world leaders to remember the lives lost and to seek accountability for crimes committed.
Survivors and youth from throughout the region came together today to commemorate the start of the Siege of Sarajevo and the beginning of the war and genocide in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The event, which is part of Genocide Prevention Month, was organized by the Society for Threatened Peoples – Bosnia & Herzegovina together with the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (sections in all the countries of the former Yugoslavia), Education Builds Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Children – Pillars of the World.
More than 250 events will take place around the globe during April to commemorate past genocides and to call for an end to ongoing and future mass atrocities. “It is remarkable – tragically so – that six civilian slaughters have anniversaries in April. This new network of genocide survivors is calling on world leaders to end the violence in Darfur and to outline how genocide prevention will be an international priority,” said Jill Savitt, Director of Genocide Prevention Month.
The commemoration ceremony in Sarajevo began in front of the memorial plaque to the victims of the Ferhadija Street Massacre on 27 May 1992, when 26 people were killed and 108 wounded as they stood in line queuing for bread.
“I lost my whole family during the crimes committed in Srebrenica. Today, all I hope for is to find the remains of my sons and my husband and to bury them properly,” said Hatidza Mehmedovic, a Srebrenica survivor and President of the Mothers of Srebrenica. “Together, as survivors of genocide, we come together to raise our collective voice to call on the international community to stop and prevent mass atrocities and genocide all over the world. The world failed to stop these crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but we call for action today in Darfur.”
Participants then marched through the centre of Sarajevo, accompanied by representatives of the survivors of the genocide – the Mothers of Srebrenica, surviving camp detainees, women victims of rape and relatives of victims and refugees from all across Bosnia & Herzegovina.
“Today, we send a strong message to all the governments of the former Yugoslavia that those responsible for genocide, such as Ratko Mladic, must be held accountable and sent to the ICTY for prosecution and punishment,” said Fadila Memisevic, Director of the Society for Threatened Peoples – Bosnia & Herzegovina. “In addition, we stand in solidarity with all other survivors of genocide around the world to demand that those responsible for the horrendous crimes committed in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur are held accountable.”
PHOTO: Bosnian Serb terrorist, Gen. Stanislav Galic, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 30 November 2006. He was found guilty of terrorizing Sarajevo, including Serb army’s responsibility for 1994 Markale massacre. His trial was the first time the court dealt with the charge of terror, as defined in the 1949 Geneva Convention. His colleague, Dragoljub Milosevic, was also found guilty by the ICTY on terrorism charges, including the second Markale market massacre of 28 August 1995.
On 5 December 2003, the Trial Chamber sentenced Galić to 20 years’ imprisonment for murder, inhumane acts and acts of violence the primary purpose of which was to spread terror amongst the civilian population of Sarajevo. In its judgement, the Trial Chamber found that the civilian population of Sarajevo was subject to deliberate and unprovoked attacks by sniper and mortar fire by the Sarajevo Romanija Corps. As commander of this Corps, Galić was responsible for the crimes carried out by his subordinates – not only was he informed of these crimes, the Trial Chamber also found that he controlled the pace and scale them.
Both the prosecution and defence appealed the Judgement. On 30 November 2006, the Appeals Chamber rendered its decision, dismissing all 19 grounds of appeal by Galić and allowing the prosecution appeal on length of sentence. It found that the sentence rendered by the Trial Chamber had underestimated the severity of Galić’s criminal conduct and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
An information sheet concerning the case can be found on the Tribunal’s website at this pdf link.
The Tribunal indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Proceedings against 116 persons have been concluded.
Video Title: Christmas Eve in Sarajevo 2007 with 54000+ lights synchronized to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s song titled Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24. The song is often misnamed “Carol of the Bells” (due to its use of the melody) on file-sharing networks. Click Play button to watch!
SERB GEN. DRAGOLJUB MILOSEVIC GETS 33 YEARS FOR TERROR CAMPAIGN AGAINST SARAJEVO CITIZENS
On December 12th 2007, Serb General Dragomir Milosevic was sentenced to 33 years in prison for the shelling and terrorism campaign (all 5 counts of terror) against Sarajevo and its citizens from August 1994 to late 1995.
PHOTO: Former Bosnian Serb Gen. Dragomir Milosevic enters the courtroom of the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday Dec. 12, 2007. Milosevic was convicted of orchestrating months of deadly shelling and sniping to spread terror during the siege of Sarajevo in 1994 and 1995 and sentenced to 33 years.
Both Markale Massacres Committed by the Serb Army
Despite overhelming evidence against the Serb side, their propaganda has for a long time claimed that Sarajevo citizens bombed themselves to gain world sympathy and get the Bosnian-Serb army ‘in trouble’; Serbs even claimed that the markale market massacre in Sarajevo was “staged”.
The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal at the Hague highlighted the Markale Market massacre of 28 August 1995, which killed 34 civilians and wounded 78 civilians, as one of the most horrendous Serb terror campaigns against Sarajevo citizens. The Trial Chamber found that the markale market was shelled by the Bosnian Serb army. It rejected the defence’s argument that the shelling of the markale market was a staged event by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ABiH).
The shell landed near Mesuda Klaric and her husband, Ismet. As she regained consciousness, her husband told her: “I lost my arm,” according to the judgment. Rescuers pushed her into a car next to a girl whose foot had been blown off and put her husband — who also had lost a foot — in the trunk. He was rushed into surgery but did not survive, Klaric told judges during the trial.
“One of the police officers who investigated the incident described what he saw as ‘the last, deepest circle of Dante’s Hell,'” judges wrote.
Back in 2005, another Serb General – Stanislav Galic – was also found guilty of terrorizing Sarajevo including the responsibility for an earlier massacre that happened at the same place, 1994 Markale Market massacre in Sarajevo. The judge said that prosecutors proved beyond reasonable doubt 18 of the 26 sniping incidents they charged and all five of the shellings. That included the 1994 Sarajevo marketplace shelling in which 68 people were killed and more than 100 injured.
Also back in 1999, the the United Nations Report also concluded that Serb Army was responsible for the markale market massacre in Sarajevo (copy of U.N. Report).
Guilty as Charged; Used Modified Air Bombs
Dragomir Milosevic was found guilty of crimes against humanity and of a violation of the laws or customs of war. He was convicted on all five counts of terror, murder and inhumane acts conducted during a campaign of sniping and shelling which resulted in the injury and death of at least 12,000 Sarajevo citizens including 1,500 children in the besieged Bosnian capital.
In its summary of the judgement, the Trial Chamber found that it was under Milosevic’s command of the Bosnian Serb Army that illegal modified air bombs were deployed, noting that these were “….inaccurate and served no military purpose.”
The Trial Chamber found that Milosevic “….abused his position and that he, through his orders, planned and ordered gross and systematic violations of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the Accused made regular use of a highly inaccurate weapon with great explosive power: the modified air bomb.”
The Trial Chamber considered the repeated use of this weapon to be an aggravating factor in reaching its judgement stating that by using modified air bombs, Milosevic was playing with the lives of the civilians of Sarajevo.
“The evidence discloses a horrific tale of the encirclement and entrapment of a city,” said Judge Patrick Robinson.
Alma Cutuna was one victim highlighted in the verdict. Shrapnel grazed her head and a sniper’s bullet severed an artery in her leg as she stood on a crowded tram in Sarajevo. The high-powered rifles of Bosnian Serb sharpshooters were supposed to be stilled by a cease-fire on that day, Oct. 8, 1994. But at noon, as the tram slowed to negotiate an S-shaped curve near the Holiday Inn on the street known as Sniper Alley, shots rang out. One person was killed and 11 were wounded, including children shot while running near the tram. Emergency surgery saved Cutuna’s life.
Reactions from Survivors of Serb Terrorism
Sarajevo resident Dzemail Cilas, 63, said Milosevic deserved an even harsher sentence. “It’s not enough,” he said.
“All those people killed, the children … and he ordered it. He should have received a life sentence, just to drag his soul through life till the end.”
Dragomir “Milosevic was found guilty. Justice has been served, and victims can be satisfied,” said Senida Carovic, the head of an association of civilian victims of the siege.
“However, no sentence is appropriate for what he has done. It cannot bring back our dead or our limbs,” she said.
In spite of her relief, Carovic said that judges should have handed Milosevic the same life sentence as was given to his predecessor, former general Stanislav Galic.
“Milosevic only continued what Galic had started and therefore he should serve the same sentence,” she said.
Witnesses described feeling like “sitting ducks” or “clay pigeons” as they travelled by tram along a major road of Sarajevo nicknamed “sniper alley”.
– Serb Generals sentenced for terrorizing Sarajevo, ICTY Judgments:
1. Trial Chamber Judgement, MILOSEVIC, Dragomir (IT-98-29/1) “Sarajevo”
2. Trial Chamber Judgment, GALIC, Stanislav (IT-98-29) “Sarajevo”
3. Appeals Chamber Judgment, GALIC, Stanislav (IT-98-29) “Sarajevo”
4. Excerpts from “The Fall of Srebrenica”, 54th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (15 November 1999)