Jezik / Language:
29 January 2015

Srebrenica Survivors Await Bosnian Serb Officers’ Verdict

Denis Dzidic BIRN BiH The Hague
The Hague Tribunal delivers its first verdict of the year on Friday in the case of five former Bosnian Serb Army officers appealing against convictions related to the Srebrenica genocide.
Srebrenica survivor Amir Kulaglic told BIRN on Thursday that he hoped justice would be done when the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia hands down its verdict in the genocide case against former officers Vujadin Popovic, Ljubisa Beara, Drago Nikolic, Vinko Pandurevic and Radivoje Miletic.

Kulaglic said that he wanted the verdict to “define the responsibility of high-ranking officials of the Bosnian Serb Army” in systematically killing over 7,000 Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica in July 1995.

“Only verdicts can bring truth and justice, so I hope this verdict will define the responsibilities and guilt of those indicted for this huge crime,” he said.

Under the first-instance verdict in 2010, the Hague Tribunal sentenced Popovic and Beara to life imprisonment, pronouncing them guilty of genocide in the days after the UN-declared ‘safe zone’ of Srebrenica was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces on July 11, 1995.

At that time Popovic was chief of security with the Bosnian Serb Army’s Drina Corps, while Beara had the same role at the army’s main headquarters.

Under the same verdict, Nikolic, security officer with the Zvornik Brigade, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for having assisted in and supported the commission of genocide. Pandurevic, commander of the Zvornik Brigade, was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for having assisted the crimes.

Miletic, a former assistant to Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, was found guilty of murders, persecution and the forcible resettlement of people from Srebrenica and Zepa and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Bosnian legal expert Vehid Sehic told BIRN he hoped that Friday’s appeal verdict would offer “truth and justice to the victims, who deserve it more than anyone”.

“I hope the verdict can bring some satisfaction to those victims of the genocide. The big question is whether such a verdict will be accepted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because we always seem to have a lot of politicisation. However I am a believer in international justice because the Hague tribunal is very important for truth and reconciliation,” said Sehic.

Under the first-instance verdict in 2010, former special police unit commander Ljubomir Borovcanin was also sentenced to 17 years in prison, while another Mladic assistant, Milan Gvero, was sentenced to five years. However Borovcanin did not appeal against the verdict and Gvero died while on temporary release.

All the indictees surrendered voluntarily to the Tribunal in 2005, except for Beara, who was arrested in Serbia in 2004.
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