Radovan Karadzic Appeals His Conviction

Radovan KaradzicToday, Radovan Karadzic has filed an appeal to the UN’s Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals against his conviction by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in March this year.

The 238-page appeal “details 48 substantive and procedural errors” that led to an incorrect verdict, according to a statement issued by Karadzic’s lawyer Peter Robinson.

“Unless corrected, flawed trials and unjust judgments like mine will only accelerate the flight of countries such as South Africa and Russia from an international legal system that is politicised and based on double standards,” Karadzic said in the statement.

“It will also ruin the chance for international justice to succeed in the long term by establishing legal precedents based on short-term political expediencies,” the former Bosnian Serb political leader added.

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

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.

 

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

General Zdravko Tolimir Passed Away in Jail

Zdravko TolimirZdravko Tolimir passed away last night in the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague.

In April last year, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) upheld the Trial Chamber’s convictions and found Tolimir, the former intelligence chief of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Main Headquarters, guilty of involvement in genocide against thousands of Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica after the UN-protected ‘safe area’ was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.

Gen Zdravko Tolimir, 67, was given a life term in jail. The cause of his death has not yet been made public.

Srebrenica Families Sue the Netherlands Before the ECHR

Srebrenica MassacreThe families of three Bosnian Muslims filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the Netherlands for failing to investigate whether its peacekeeping commanders in Srebrenica allowed Bosniaks to be killed.

The move came after a Dutch appeals court ruled in April that Dutch Battalion (“Dutchbat”) commander Thom Karremans, his deputy Rob Franken and personnel officer Berend Oosterveen should not be prosecuted.

The appeal was brought by Hasan Nuhanovic, a Srebrenica survivor and former translator for the UN peacekeepers, and the family of Rizo Mustafic, who was killed by Bosnian Serb forces.

The three former UN Dutchbat commanders led the Dutch soldiers during the fall of the Muslim enclave. About 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and buried in mass graves in mid-July 1995 at Srebrenica by Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic, now on trial for genocide and war crimes before the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

When the Bosnian Serb Army overran Srebrenica, Nuhanovic’s relatives and Mustafic, along with several hundred others, sought refuge inside the Dutch peacekeepers’ base in Potocari.

Instead of finding safety however, they were handed to the Serbs by Dutch soldiers and subsequently killed.

Nuhanovic’s lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld, said that she was optimistic about the case because the Dutch authorities should have at least brought the case before a criminal court, instead of just briefly dealing with it through a military prosecution.

“We think it is clear the Dutch authorities should have opened a criminal investigation and not just read historical records. The military prosecution said they read the historical records and found the three commanders were not criminally complicit. This was not at all for them to decide,” said Zegveld.

Radislav Krstic Wins £50k After Suing British Government

Radislav KrstićRadislav Krstic has won more than £50,000 from the British government for failing to protect him from a savage prison attack.

Krstic, who is serving 35 years after being convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for his part in the Srebrenica massacre, was being held at Wakefield prison when he was slashed with a razor blade.

Three Muslim extremists stormed his cell at the high security prison and cut his throat before leaving him for dead in the 2010 assault.

They held Krstic down and used a razor blade embedded in a tooth brush handle to cut his throat, neck and face.

Krstic claimed he has been left physically and mentally scarred and accused the prison authorities of negligently failing to protect him from the threat of attack by prisoners.

A judge, sitting at Central London County Court, has now ruled that the Ministry of Justice was negligent and awarded him £52,500 damages.

At the time of the attack, Krstic was being held in Britain under an agreement with NATO.

His attackers were all later convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

In his ruling, the judge said that Wakefield Prison had no appropriate facilities for protective confinement and Krstic should never have been transferred there.

Radislav Krstic serves now his sentence in a Polish jail.

Serbia Charges Eight Men over Srebrenica Massacre

Srebrenica MassacreProsecutors in Serbia have charged eight people over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

The men charged today belonged to a special Bosnian-Serb police unit that was operating in the eastern village of Kravica when the killings took place.

According to the prosecutors, they herded the mainly Muslim victims into a warehouse where they were killed with machine guns and grenades in an assault that lasted all night.

Those charged included the unit’s commander, Nedeljko Milidragovic, also known as Nedjo the Butcher, who was accused of giving the order for the killings and saying that “nobody should get out alive”.

Nedeljko Milidragovic was already facing genocide charges in Bosnia but has been able to live freely in Serbia because of the lack of an extradition treaty. However, the situation has changed in March when he and the seven other suspects were arrested as a result of co-operation between the war crimes court in Belgrade and its counterpart in Sarajevo.

The eight men could face a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Russia Vetoes UN Resolution to Call Srebrenica Massacre as ‘Genocide’

Srebrenica MassacreRussia has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have described the Srebrenica massacre as “genocide”.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said adopting it “would be counter-productive, would lead to greater tension in the region”.

Four members of the Security Council abstained while the remainder voted in favour.

The motion had angered Serbia, which rejects the term. Serbia does not have a seat on the Security Council, and had asked ally Russia to block the resolution.

The Serbian President, Tomislav Nikolic, called it a “great day” for his country.

The resolution had been drafted to mark the 20th anniversary of the atrocity, which came amid the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia into independent states.

During the Bosnian War, which saw Serbia-backed Bosnian Serb forces fighting the Muslim-led Bosnian government, thousands seeking shelter at what was supposed to be a UN refuge were slaughtered.

The resolution said that “acceptance of the tragic events at Srebrenica as genocide is a prerequisite for reconciliation”.

Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations criticized Russia’s veto, qualifying Russia’s veto as heart-breaking for the families and saying that “it is a further stain on this council’s record.” She argued amongst other things that the crime of genocide is “the crime that the United Nations Genocide Convention was written and ratified to prevent and punish. The crime of genocide in Srebrenica is what the genocide convention — which all of us have ratified — exists to prevent and punish. Reconciliation cannot be built by burying the dark parts of one’s history, however unsettling they may be.”

The Ambassador also highlighted the numerous testimonies which took place before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), describing the atrocities and leading the Yugoslavia Tribunal to convict numerous people of genocide in relation to the Srebrenica killings.

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

Dutch State Agrees Compensation Deal with five Srebrenica Relatives

Srebrenica MassacreThe Dutch state has reached a compensation agreement with the relatives of three men who were sent out of the Dutch army compound in Srebrenica and killed by Bosnian Serbs.

The five relatives will receive payouts of several tens of thousands of euros, broadcaster Nos says. In addition, defence minister Jeanine Hennis has formally apologised for the way the men were sent to their deaths.

The agreement ends a legal dispute which began in 2002. The Dutch supreme court said in 2013 the Dutch state can be held responsible for the death of the three Muslim men in the siege of Srebrenica during the Yugoslavia war in 1995.

Interpreter Hasan Nuhanovic, who lost his father and brother, and relatives of electrician Rizo Mustafic said Dutch soldiers serving under the UN flag in the Muslim enclave did not do all they could to protect their relatives from the Bosnian Serb army.

Over 8,000 men and boys were murdered and buried in mass graves when the enclave was overrun and the massacre remains the subject of other legal action. The Netherlands had earlier offered each relative €20,000 but this was rejected as insufficient. Their lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld said the sum which has been agreed is ‘decent’ and that the relatives now hope to find peace.