Dutch State Targeted in Appeal Over Srebrenica Massacre

Image: TOPSHOTS-BOSNIA-WAR-SREBRENICA-ANNIVERSARYThis Thursday, the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves victims’ group will launch an appeal in The Hague against a 2014 verdict which held the Netherlands responsible for the deaths of about 300 Bosniaks after the fall of Srebrenica.

The district court in The Hague ruled in July 2014 that Dutch peacekeeping troops had failed to protect 300 Bosniaks after Srebrenica fell to the Bosnian Serb Army on July 11, 1995, and ordered the Netherlands to pay compensation.

But Marco Gerritsen, the lawyer for the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves association said that the Netherlands should be found guilty of responsibility for the deaths of all the Bosniaks from Srebrenica who were killed after the enclave fell – more than 7,000 men and boys.

After Srebrenica was overrun by Serb forces, thousands of Bosniaks sought refuge in the UN base just outside Srebrenica, at Potocari, where the Dutch peacekeepers were stationed.

However, while the women and young children were transported to a Bosniak-majority area, the Dutch soldiers handed more than 7000 men and boys over to the Bosnian Serb army, telling them that they would be safe. All of them subsequently got killed by the Bosnian Serb army.

The 2014 verdict said that on the night of July 12, 1995 or the morning of July 13, the Dutch authorities “knew or should have known” that there was a possibility that the Bosniaks would be killed, so they were found guilty of the deaths of about 300 people who were handed over from that moment onwards.

But the verdict acquitted the Netherlands of responsibility for the deaths of Bosniaks who had been handed over to Serb policemen and soldiers prior to that.

Gerristen said that during the appeal he would present a document dated July 11, in which the Dutch defence minister said he was afraid for the safety of the Bosniaks.

“Therefore, there is a responsibility of the Netherlands for the death of all Bosniaks whom they handed over,” Gerritsen said.

For Marco Gerritsen, the Dutch authorities were only concerned about the safety of their own soldiers, so “many civilians got killed” thanks to the hurried departure of the Dutch soldiers and the handover of the Bosniaks.

 

100th Newsletter of the ICTY Association of Defence Counsel

ADC-ICTY-300x300The Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before the ICTY (ADC-ICTY) has published the 100th issue of its newsletter.

This edition covers the recent developments in the Mladić case as well as in the Karadžić case, where the Defence filed two motions before the Appeals Chamber of the MICT (Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals) requesting on one hand the Prosecution to disclose statements to the Defence and on the other hand access to Ex Parte Filings in Completed Cases.

The newsletter also addresses the recent developments which took place at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as well as in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a war crimes trial is held against a former Bosnian Presidency Member, Borislav Paravac, accused of having participated in a joint criminal enterprise, targeting the Bosniak and Croat civilian population in Doboj (Northern Bosnia) between May 1992 and the end of 1993.

The newsletter also contains an op-ed analysis on the recent conviction of Radovan Karadžić and whether his conviction impedes Ratko Mladić’s right to a fair trial.

U.S.: Croatian Woman Can Be Extradited on War Crimes Charges

Azra Basic

Azra Basic

U.S. Federal appeals judges have recently upheld a decision allowing the extradition of Azra Basic to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a Muslim Croatian woman accused of murder and torture during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.

Basic had challenged a ruling by U.S. District Judge that said Basic could be deported to face trial in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Basic came to the United States as a refugee in 1994. She settled in Kentucky and became a naturalized citizen in 2007.

Basic’s attorney argued that a treaty does not allow extradition of U.S. citizens to Bosnia and that Bosnian authorities did not issue a proper arrest warrant for her.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that the treaty in place between the United States and Bosnia does not bar Basic from being extradited.

The Court of Appeals also said that while there was no warrant of arrest against Basic as such, other documents in the file constituted a valid warrant. Continue reading

French Court of Appeal Rules to Extradite Suspected War Criminal

Radomir SusnjarToday, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled to extradite Radomir Susjnar, a suspected Bosnian Serb paramilitary, to Bosnia-Herzegovina to face charges of crimes against humanity.

Bosnia-Herzegovina wants Susnjar to face accusations he was part of a Bosnian Serb paramilitary group that massacred 59 Bosnian Muslims in the city of Visegrad in June 1992.

Witnesses say Susnjar personally locked the people – most of them women, children or elderly – inside a house and set it on fire. All but eight of them perished.

He was arrested in the Paris region in April 2014.

The court’s ruling in favour of extradition on international principles was a relief to victims, who had called on the court not to set precedent they feared would allow war criminals to find a safe haven in France. Continue reading

ICTY Releases Florence Hartmann

Florence HartmannThe International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) released French journalist Florence Hartmann from its prison in The Hague on Tuesday.

The journalist had spent five days in the prison, which is normally reserved for war crimes suspects and convicts.

Last Thursday, Ms. Hartmann was unexpectedly arrested by security officials of the Tribunal outside the court gates while she was talking with victims from the Bosnian war. Ms. Hartmann had come to The Hague to hear the verdict against Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader.

Ms. Hartmann was told that she had to serve a seven-day sentence because she had not paid a fine in a court judgment against her. Former press officer of the Tribunal, she was convicted of contempt of court in 2009 for having revealed in a book how tribunal judges had issued confidential decisions ruling that parts of the records provided by Serbia could be used in closed sessions of the court but had to be kept out of the public eye.

Ms. Hartmann had argued that victims had a right to know about the confidential agreement made between tribunal judges and Serbia.

After her release on Tuesday, Ms. Hartmann said what had angered the judges most was that she wrote that they had acted “unlawfully” and had therefore made their decisions confidential.

On Tuesday afternoon, the court freed Ms. Hartmann after her lawyer, Guénaël Mettraux, filed a motion for her release because she had served two-thirds of her sentence. Continue reading

ICTY: Karadžić Convicted to 40 years in Historic Verdict

Radovan KaradzicRadovan Karadžić, the war-time President of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today.

Karadžić, the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, was charged with responsibility for atrocities including the siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men in the Srebrenica enclave.

The Yugoslav Court, sitting in The Hague, found Karadžić guilty in 10 of 11 counts, including genocide, crimes against humanity (in the form of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, and inhumane acts) and violations of the laws and customs of war (including murder, terror, unlawful attacks on civilians and taking of hostages).

Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon found that Karadžić had been responsible for genocide in Srebrenica, where close to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered in 1995, on the basis of his membership in a Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE), but not in other Bosnian municipalities. He was further convicted of persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer and murder in connection with a campaign to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of villages claimed by Serb forces during the country’s 1992-1995 civil war.

Karadžić, currently 70 years, was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment, while receiving credit for the time already spent in detention (8 years).

Radovan Karadžić was a founding member of the Serbian Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was President of the party from July 1990 to July 1996. He acted as Chairman of the National Security Council of the so-called Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (later Republika Srpska). He was President of the three-member Presidency of Republika Srpska from its creation in May 1992 until December 1992, and thereafter sole President of Republika Srpska and Supreme Commander of its armed forces until July 1996.

The verdict has been labelled as the most important moment in the 23-year existence of the ICTY. Ilawyer Dr. Guénaël Mettraux called the process exemplary in that it has demonstrated the ability of the international community to prosecute crimes of such magnitude while guaranteeing the fundamental rights of the accused. Continue reading

Naser Orić Will Face Trial in Bosnia

Naser OricThe United Nations Mechanisms for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) has rejected a request from former Bosnian Army General Naser Orić’s lawyers to order the Bosnian state court to stop the case against him because he has already been acquitted of the charges by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The lawyers argued that Orić cannot stand trial for the same crimes twice.

Judge Liu Daqun said in his decision that Orić was acquitted by the ICTY of command responsibility for the killings of one Serb at the Srebrenica police station and six others in the local municipality building.

However the charges in Bosnia allege he personally killed one Serb in the village of Zalazje and took part in the killings of two other Serbs in Bratunac along with another Bosnian Army fighter.

“I note that in the present case, the murder charges in the Bosnian indictment fundamentally differ from the murder charges in the Hague indictment with respect to the alleged victims and the nature, time and location of the alleged crime,” said the judge.

The Bosnian court recently said that Orić’s trial will open once the MICT reaches its decision.

Former Bosnian Commander Arrested Over Serbs’ Deaths

Sakib Mahmuljin

Sakib Mahmuljin

Today, former Bosnian Army commander Sakib Mahmuljin has been arrested on suspicion of failing to prevent Islamic volunteer fighters committing war crimes against Serb civilians and prisoners of war in 1995.

The Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency arrested Mahmuljin on suspicion that as the commander of the Bosnian Army Third Corps, during battles in the village of Vozuca near Zavidovici from May to October 1995, he failed to stop or punish crimes against civilians and prisoners of war.

According to the prosecution, “members of the El Mujahedin unit killed around 50 Serb prisoners who they had previously taken over from the Bosnian Army Third Corps units which captured them during the battles.”

The prosecution said that Mahmuljin had information that members of the El Mujahedin unit were preparing to commit these crimes.

Mahmuljin is also suspected of inhumanely treating 20 prisoners of war and civilians.

Mahmuljin will be handed over to the prosecution, which will then decide whether to file a custody motion.

 

Naser Orić’s Defence Requests Termination of the Proceedings

Naser OricNaser Orić’s defense lawyers have called on the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals to order the termination of the proceedings against their client. The charges against him were brought before the State Court in Sarajevo

The defense of Naser Orić, who was tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), has asked Theodor Meron, the president of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, to appoint a panel of judges which would order the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) State Court to terminate the proceedings against the former BH Army commander in Srebrenica.

In the motion, the defence has invoked Article 7 of the Mechanism’s Statute, which stipulates that ‘no person shall be tried before a national court for acts constituting serious violations of international humanitarian law under the present Statute for which he or she has already been tried by the ICTY, the ICTR, or the Mechanism’. Orić’s defense has also invoked the Rules of Procedure which stipulate that if the president of the Mechanism receives reliable information that proceedings have been instituted before a national court against a person who has already been tried before one of the international tribunals, the president should issue a ‘reasoned order’ to ‘permanently terminate’ the proceedings. Continue reading

Twenty Years Since Srebrenica: No Reconciliation, We’re Still At War

by Refik Hodzic*

Image: TOPSHOTS-BOSNIA-WAR-SREBRENICA-ANNIVERSARYRight now, people in the Balkan region are still living a war, this time for the ‘truth’ about ethnic superiority that will shape the attitudes of future generations.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is about to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide – a somber moment of remembrance, seen by many as an opportunity to promote the notion of reconciliation between the country’s ethnic groups. The United Kingdom seems to be the leading proponent of such an approach, with a draft resolution commemorating Srebrenica already circulating among the Security Council members and the ‘interested states,’ primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

However, a brief glance at the public discourse around the anniversary paints a very different picture, one of no political agenda for reconciliation, of no social project aimed at overcoming the legacy of the conflict from the ‘90s, of a continuing struggle for ethnic dominance. Indeed, can we constructively talk about reconciliation in a country still gripped by war?

It is not a war for territory anymore, with the cannons having fallen silent 20 years ago with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, but it is a war nonetheless. A war fought by ‘other means,’ a vicious fight for the dominant narrative of the past, for the ‘truth’ as the foundation of political projects largely rooted in wartime goals of ethnic separation and dominance. This war is mainly fought out in political arenas, but also in the media, in classrooms, churches and mosques, at family dinner tables, and its consequences are bound to have a lasting impact on the region’s stability. Continue reading