Annual Report: Bosnia And Herzegovina 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Bosnia And Herzegovina 2011

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International justice

At the end of 2010, six war crimes cases concerning BiH were pending before the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal). In addition, two cases were on appeal.

  • In June, the Trial Chamber of the Tribunal convicted seven former Bosnian Serb high-ranking military and police officials on charges related to crimes under international law committed in 1995 in Srebrenica and Žepa. Vujadin Popović and Ljubiša Beara were found guilty of genocide along with other charges and sentenced to life imprisonment. Drago Nikolić was convicted of aiding and abetting genocide, extermination and murder, among other charges, and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Ljubomir Borovčanin, who was found guilty of aiding and abetting extermination, murder, persecution and forcible transfer, was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Radivoje Miletić, convicted of murder, persecution and forcible transfer, was sentenced to 19 years' imprisonment. Milan Gvero was found guilty of persecution and inhumane acts and sentenced to five years. Vinko Pandurević was found guilty of aiding and abetting murder, persecution and inhumane acts and was sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment.

The Trial Chamber found that at least 5,336 individuals were killed in several executions following the fall of Srebrenica but noted that the final number of victims could be as high as 7,826.

  • The proceedings against Radovan Karadžić continued before the Trial Chamber on various charges, including two counts related to genocide. The first related to the crimes committed between 31 March and 31 December 1992 in a number of municipalities in BiH, including killings, torture and forcible transfer or deportation, and whose aim was the destruction of Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims as ethnic or religious groups. The second referred to the killing of more than 7,000 men and boys in July 1995 in Srebrenica. There were also five counts of crimes against humanity, including persecution, extermination, murder and deportation of non-Serbs. The indictment also contained four charges of violations of the laws or customs of war such as hostage-taking and spreading terror among the civilian population.

During the proceedings Radovan Karadžić rejected all charges, claiming that both Sarajevo and Srebrenica were legitimate military targets.

  • The appeals proceedings in the case against Rasim Delić started in January. He had been found guilty of failing to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent and punish the crimes of cruel treatment committed by members of the El Mujahedin Unit of the Army of BiH. He had been sentenced to three years' imprisonment by the Trial Chamber in September 2008. On 16 April, while on provisional release, Rasim Delić died. In June, the Appeals Chamber terminated the appeals proceedings and announced that the Trial Chamber judgement should be considered as final.

Some victims and their families sought justice before other international courts.

  • On 28 January 2010, the Court of Appeals in The Hague heard a civil case filed by 6,000 relatives of the victims of genocide in Srebrenica (the “Mothers of Srebrenica”) against the Netherlands and the UN.

The applicants claimed compensation from the Dutch authorities and the UN for having failed to protect them and their families from genocide committed in Srebrenica in July 1995 by members of the Bosnian Serb Army led by General Ratko Mladić. In the first instance judgement in July 2008, the District Court in The Hague had stated that it had no jurisdiction over actions by the UN personnel. It also discharged any responsibility of the Dutch government.

On 30 March, the Court of Appeals in The Hague rejected the appeal in the case. The court stated that the immunity of the UN from prosecution was absolute and that it was not competent to deal with the compensation claim.