ICTY Convicts Seven in Srebrenica Massacre Case

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted seven Bosnian Serb military leaders owing to their participation in the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, in which over 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed. Read the judgment summary here. [Impunity Watch, ICTY]  From among the many atrocities committed during the Balkans conflict, the Srebrenica massacre has been singled out by the ICTY and International Court of Justice (ICJ) as an act of genocide.

The crimes of which the seven former military and police officials were convicted include: genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war, including extermination, murder, persecution, and inhumane acts.  The Trial Chamber found that the crime of deportation had not been proven.  The ICTY’s press release notes:

This trial has been the largest conducted to date at the ICTY. Trial proceedings in this case commenced on 21 August 2006 and concluded on 15 September 2009. The trial took a total of 425 days during which the Trial Chamber heard or otherwise admitted evidence from 315 witnesses: 182 by the Prosecution; 132 by all the Defence teams and one by the Trial Chamber. There are 5,383 exhibits before the Trial Chamber, amounting to 87,392 page numbers.

The Tribunal has indicted a total of 21 individuals for crimes committed in Srebrenica. Among these are Radislav Krstić who was the first individual to be convicted of aiding and abetting genocide in Srebrenica on 2 August 2001. The Appeals Chamber sentenced him to 35 years’ imprisonment on 19 April 2004. The trials of Radovan Karadžić, Zdravko Tolimir as well as Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović are ongoing. To date, Ratko Mladić, the war-time leader of the Bosnian Serb Army also charged with genocide in Srebrenica, remains a fugitive.

Since its establishment, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001.  Proceedings against 123 have been concluded. Proceedings are currently open for 40 Accused with 25 at trial stage and 11 before the Appeals Chamber.

Radio Free Europe has published an interesting commentary on the implications of the judgment, which is available here.

In March of this year, the Serbian parliament passed a resolution condemning the Srebrenica massacre and extended a formal apology to the victims and their families, although it did not categorize the massacre as genocide. [Radio Netherlands]  The International Court of Justice found the Srebrenica massacre to be genocide in its 2007 judgment in the case Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro), as have the ICTY and the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia & Herzegovina.

As reported by Radio Netherlands, in March of this year a Dutch court upheld a lower court’s decision that the United Nations and Dutch government were immune from suit by families of victims of the massacre who alleged that the UN had abdicated its duty to protect the civilian population. [Radio Netherlands]

Relatedly, former acting Bosnian president Ejup Ganic was arrested in March of this year in London on allegations that he had committed war crimes during the conflict.  Serbia is seeking his extradition from the U.K. despite a previously unsuccessful attempt to secure his prosecution by the ICTY. [BBC, RFE]

See PBS’ interactive timeline of events leading up to the massacre here.

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