WELCOME TO IWPRS ICTY TRIBUNAL UPDATE No. 622, October 30, 2009 OUTCRY AT PLAVSIC'S BELGRADE WELCOME Former Bosnian Serb president released early from her sentence for war crimes. By Iva Martinovic in Belgrade and Merdijana Sadovic in Sarajevo
COURT HEARS KARADZIC PRE-WAR RHETORIC Prosecutor sets out case before tribunal packed with survivors, despite absence of accused. By Rachel Irwin in The Hague COURTSIDE PROSECUTORS WANT FORMER KOSOVAN PREMIER RETRIED Both defence and prosecution team appeal over cases of KLA leaders. By Julia Hawes in The Hague PERISIC TRIAL TOLD OF COMMANDERS' ACCOUNTABILITY Expert witness says military doctrine means commanders are ultimately responsible for armys behaviour. 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By Iva Martinovic in Belgrade and Merdijana Sadovic in Sarajevo There was criticism this week over the warm welcome extended to convicted war criminal Biljana Plavsic on her return to Belgrade following her early release from a Swedish prison. The former president of Republika Srpska, RS, turned herself into the Hague in 2001, charged with complicity in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. She subsequently pleaded guilty to one count of persecution and in return all other charges against her, including genocide, were dropped. The 79-year-old served two-thirds of her 11-year sentence before being granted an early release under Swedish law. This week, she flew into Belgrade on a private RS government plane, and was greeted at the airport by the Bosnian Serb prime minister Milorad Dodik himself. Local reporters flocked around her to ask her how it felt to be home after so many years. Plavsic, wearing red lipstick and a long fur coat, said tearfully that she was eager to go to Banja Luka to see all my friends there. Dodik said he had personally decided to send a private plane for Plavsic and welcome her at the Belgrade airport, as this was his moral and human obligation. "According to all laws, Mrs Biljana Plavsic is now a free woman. Her sentence was unjust, and is not important anymore. She needs to forget about all that as soon as possible," Dodik told the press. But the treatment Plavsic received from Dodik upon her release sparked angry reactions among some observers. The fact that the prime minister of Republika Srpska decided to greet Biljana Plavsic in Belgrade is the worst possible message Bosnian citizens could get, said Mirsad Tokaca, director of the Sarajevo-based Research and Documentation Centre. He added that it was disastrous that politicians in Bosnia used trials and judgements handed down by the Hague tribunal for political purposes, and treated former war crimes suspects as heroes - whether they were acquitted or convicted. Such acts can only slow down the process of reconciliation in this country, Tokaca said. The Humanitarian Law Fund in Belgrade issued a statement on October 30 criticising the Serbian media for treating Plavsic as a pop star and not a convicted war criminal in their coverage. The reporters wrote about Plavsics meeting with her relatives, what she ate, what she drank and which song an accordion player chose for her when he welcomed her in front of her apartment In their reports, the journalists mostly quoted Plavsics friends and supporters, who openly denied her responsibility for war crimes, the statement reads. "All this is a result of the fact that Serbia is still in denial, said Sonja Biserko, president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. "What is important is the fact that Plavsic was convicted of war crimes. People in Serbia have to accept that and act accordingly. When Plavsic made her plea agreement, she appeared to be truly remorseful for her acts as a member of the Bosnian Serb leadership during Bosnias 1992-95 war, which left 100,000 people dead and 2 million displaced. However, she later seemed to have changed her mind. In a book, I Testify, which was published while she was in jail, she shifted the blame for the Bosnian war to the ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who is currently on trial for war crimes at The Hague. She was also one of the key witnesses in the trial of former Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker, Momcilo Krajinik, who was sentenced on appeal to 20 years in prison for his role in the war. Plavsic has decided to live in Belgrade, where she has her own apartment and close relatives. Many people in Serbia see her as a moderate nationalist, putting aside her role in the Bosnian war and her guilty plea before the Hague judges. Apart from Dodik, no other Belgrade officials welcomed or even commented on Plavsics release this week. Serbian officials have every reason to be careful in their contacts with the former RS president, said Rasim Ljajic, president of Serbias National Council for Cooperation with The Hague. Belgrade has already been repeatedly criticised for failing to arrest two remaining war crimes fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic. This remains the main obstacle for Serbia on its road to EU membership. "I think there are people from the international community who are monitoring the situation to see how we will accept Biljana Plavsic. If we make the wrong move, this could be seen as evidence that Serbia is supporting persons convicted for war crimes, said Ljajic. Iva Martinovic is an RFE reporter in Belgrade and Merdijana Sadovic is IWPRs International Justice/ICTY programme manager in Sarajevo. RFE reporter in Sarajevo Dzenana Karabegovic contributed to this report. COURT HEARS KARADZIC PRE-WAR RHETORIC Prosecutor sets out case before tribunal packed with survivors, despite absence of accused. By Rachel Irwin in The Hague Prosecutors read out pre-war statements made by Radovan Karadzic and showed disturbing videos of the conflict as part of their opening statement in his trial this week, even as the accused continued to boycott the proceedings. Speaking to a mostly empty courtroom and a public gallery packed with journalists and survivors of the war, prosecutor Alan Tieger spent nearly five hours on October 27, describing Karadzics alleged plan to purge Bosnia of Muslims (known as Bosniaks) and Croats in order to create a single Serbian state. The accused was both the architect of these policies and the leader of the forces that implemented them, Tieger said. Throughout the proceedings, Tieger relied heavily on Karadzics own words from intercepted phone calls and public statements. Sarajevo will be a black cauldron where 300,000 Muslims will die, Tieger quoted Karadzic as saying in an October 1991 phone conversation. They will disappear from the face of the earth there will be a real bloodbath. Karadzics description of what would befall Sarajevo foreshadowed the nearly four-year sniping and shelling of the city that would leave thousands dead, Tieger said. For 44 months, the civilian population lived under a pervasive sense of terror exactly what was intended, Tieger said. Not only had Karadzic and his forces failed to make a distinction between civilian and military targets as international law requires but they also deliberately inflicted terror on civilians, explained Tieger. There was an ever present fear of being the next one killed, he said. Tieger emphasised that Karadzic had direct authority over the shelling and controlled the level of terror when it suited him politically. Sarajevo was a pawn that allowed Karadzic more leverage when negotiating with the international community and Bosnian government, Tieger continued. The amount of power Karadzic enjoyed was reflected in his own statements, Tieger said. I am in charge, in particular of the army. Commanders report to me, Tieger quoted Karadzic as stating shortly after he became president of Bosnias Republika Srpska in 1992. I am the one who decides and I am responsible for every decision. Karadzic, the president of Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996, is charged with some of the worst atrocities of the Bosnian war. After evading arrest for 13 years, he was finally apprehended in July 2008, while he was living in Belgrade under an assumed name and posing as an alternative healer. He is accused of planning and overseeing the siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead, as well as the massacre of almost 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995. The indictment which lists 11 counts in total also alleges that he is responsible for crimes of persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory. Tieger also made use of statements from Karadzics colleagues, including Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army who is still wanted by the Hague tribunal. The moment has come for us to finally take revenge on the Turks, Mladic reportedly said on television shortly before the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995. Karadzic and members of his government often used inflammatory language to describe Bosniaks, Tieger said. Biljana Plavsic, a member of the wartime government of Republika Srpska, referred to Muslims as genetically tainted material, Tieger said. Plavsic was brought before the tribunal in 2001 and charged with having been complicit in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. She subsequently pleaded guilty to one count of persecution and was released this week from a Swedish prison, where she served eight years of an 11-year sentence. Karadzic, Tieger said, compared Serbs and Muslims to dogs and cats who lose their natural characteristics if they remain together. Muslims cannot live with others, we must be clear on that, said Karadzic, according to Tieger. Throughout his presentation, Tieger also utilised archive video footage. To illustrate the effects of the relentless sniping and shelling in Sarajevo, Tieger showed a video of a 7-year-old boy lying limp and bloodied in the street. The boy was shot and killed, Tieger said, while walking with his mother. When he discussed the wholesale roundup of Bosniaks and Croats in several Bosnian municipalities, he showed a clip from a CNN news report on detention camps run by Bosnian Serbs. The detainees in the video appeared so emaciated that their ribs jutted out from their chests. CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour described them as being crammed into cattle sheds. In the best of circumstances, the detainees existed in dehumanising circumstances, said Tieger, describing the now infamous camps of Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje in northwestern Bosnia. In the worst, they were subject to beatings, rape, torture and death, he said. The camps were part of a system called the exchange commission, which coordinated the detention and expulsion of non Serbs, Tieger said. The evidence will show that Karadzic had an ongoing awareness that [the exchange commission] was functioning, he added. Tieger showed another video clip of detained men covered in scars and bruises, one of whom had a cross crudely carved into his arm. These clips provoked an audible reaction from the audience, many of whom were either victims themselves or had family members that were killed in the war. Just a day earlier, it was uncertain if the trial would commence at all. While opening statements were scheduled to begin on October 26, the judges adjourned after just 15 minutes when Karadzic, who is representing himself, failed to appear. The judges indicated that if the accused did not show up the following afternoon, the opening statements were likely to proceed without him. As IWPR reported last week, Karadzic sent a letter to judges on October 21 stating that he needed more time to prepare his case and would thus not appear when the trial began. Both trial and appeals judges had previously rejected his request to postpone the trial for 10 months. The October 26 decision to adjourn the proceedings early provoked cries of anger from the public gallery. The following day, Judge O-Gon Kwon noted Karadzics absence in spite of oral and written requests. He said the right of the accused to be present was not absolute and that the opening statements should proceed in his absence. The prosecution is expected to complete opening statements on November 2. If Karadzic once again fails to attend, there will be hearing the following day, where the accused and the prosecution can present their views on how the trial should move forward given the current circumstances. Judge Kwon has made it clear that one option is to assign Karadzic a lawyer, whether he likes it or not. Consequences inevitably flow from his choice [not to be present], said Judge Kwon on October 27. Should Dr Karadzic not appear next Monday (November 2), the chamber may decide to proceed without him and counsel may be assigned. Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague. COURTSIDE PROSECUTORS WANT FORMER KOSOVAN PREMIER RETRIED Both defence and prosecution team appeal over cases of KLA leaders. By Julia Hawes in The Hague Hague prosecutors this week called for a re-trial in the case of former Kosovan prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, acquitted of war crimes charges in April 2008. Haradinaj and fellow Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, leader Idriz Balaj were found not guilty of involvement in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at the removal and mistreatment of Serb civilians, as well as suspected Kosovar Albanian collaborators, in 1998. Their co-defendant Lahi Brahimaj was found guilty on the basis of individual criminal responsibility for cruel treatment and torture, and was sentenced to six years in jail. But this week, the Office of the Prosecution, OTP, appealed the chambers decision to acquit Haradinaj and Balaj following their three-year trial. In response, defence lawyers representing all three men argued that there had been inconsistencies in testimonies by the OTP witnesses. Brahimajs defence counsel told judges that they sought to reverse his conviction on counts of torture and cruel treatment, and seek a reduction of the six-year sentence on 19 grounds of appeal. According to the indictment, KLA forces under the control of commander Haradinaj harassed, beat and drove Serb and Roma civilians out of villages, and killed those who remained behind or refused to leave. Brahimajs appeal cited the failure by the OTP to prove that he had served as a deputy commander for the KLA, or that he had committed acts of torture in the presence of low-ranking soldiers. Defence attorney Richard Harvey argued that any convictions based on the testimonies made by Witnesses 3 and 6 during the trial were unsafe, due to inconsistencies and lack of credibility. Witness 6 was a mere farmer who denied having ever been in the police reserve, Harvey said. Witness 6 told the court that the KLA had targeted him for being a spy for the Serbian police. When the witness was stopped by the KLA, he was carrying a Serbian-issued pistol, Harvey told the judges, which he alleged was highly suspect. He was also driving a Mercedes, a fact that seemed peculiar for a self-proclaimed mere farmer, Harvey said. Harvey added that there were irreconcilable contradictions between Witnesses 6 and 3, who described their detainment and cruel treatment under the KLA in 1998. Why did the trial chamber prefer one account over the other, when they contradicted the other? Harvey asked the judges. This verdict is not justified by the evidence. These convictions must be regarded as unsafe. In response, the OTP described Brahimajs vicious and sadistic behaviour towards the witnesses while they were detailed by the KLA. Brahimaj tortured Witness 6 for his alleged involvement with Serb authorities and [his] political affiliation, prosecutor Peter Kremer told the judges. In his testimony on June 4, 2007, Witness 6 named Brahimaj as his attacker, Kremer added. Harvey argued that the alleged injuries of witness 6 were uncorroborated, and never supported by medical records or evidence of medication. Brahimaj has already served two-thirds of his sentence. Having been granted provisional release by the chamber, Harvey said, Brahimaj was studying sociology and English language at Pristina University, where he also hoped to earn a law degree in order to battle corruption. [Brahimaj] is proud of the part he played in fighting for his countrys independence and in resisting torture, cruelty and oppression his people had suffered, Harvey told the judges. He has always upheld highest standards of military professionalism, respected right of all humans, to be without discrimination on grounds of political belief, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic standing, or age. In their appeal, the OTP called for a right to a fair trial, in which all steps would be made to secure testimonies of two crucial witnesses. Kremer said that the trial chamber had breached the OTPs right to a fair and expeditious trial, citing evidence of witness intimidation that he said had infected the trial. Witnesses with relevant and probative evidence refused to testify because of a fear of consequences, Kremer said. Kremer asked the chamber to consider alternative ways to receive the witness evidence, which he claimed would have affected the outcome of the trial. The testimonies, Kremer said, showed that Haradinaj was present at the beating of KLA detainees, and that Balaj was directly responsible for physically attacking the prisoners. Kremer argued that the chamber had been intent on achieving an expeditious trial rather than a fair one. Judge Patrick Robinson said that it was astonishing that the OTP had not made a special submission for the acceptance of the witness written testimonies, despite their refusal to testify in front of the court. The chamber was so hostile towards the prosecutions attempts to have these witness testimonies heard because they wanted to be finished with the trial, Kremer responded, adding that he had tried and failed to submit the witness original statements provided by investigators as corroborative evidence. Further attempts would have been futile, Kremer added. The prosecution never made the motion, Judge Theodor Meron said in response. Ben Emmerson, Haradinajs defence attorney, said that the prosecutions submissions were fundamentally misconceived and factually selective. He added that the chamber had given the OTP opportunities to produce testimonies. [This is] a pointless retrial, Emmerson told the judges. The OTP also called for a retrial in Balajs alleged rape of Witness 61 and cruel treatment of Witness 1, a married couple held in the KLA headquarters. The wife, Witness 61, was raped and interrogated, the prosecution said, while her husband was held in a well outside. The prosecution said that Witness 61 had identified her rapist as Toger, or lieutenant, Balajs nickname. Defence attorney Colleen Rohan responded that Witness 61 rape was not in dispute, simply the identification of her assailant. She argued that the chamber had found reasonable doubt in Witness 61s identification of Toger as her attacker. Rohan also argued that while Witness 1s ordeal had been unpleasant, it did not constitute as cruel treatment, a title she assigned to such cruelties as forced labour and shelling of civilian villages. In response, the OTP said that by forcefully removing Witness 1 from his home, separating him from his wife, and placing him in water to his waist without any inkling of his own fate or that of his wife constituted as cruel treatment. The witness did not know whether the well would become his grave, the prosecution said, even as his wife was being interrogated and raped in the KLA headquarters. Julia Hawes is an IWPR contributor in The Hague. PERISIC TRIAL TOLD OF COMMANDERS' ACCOUNTABILITY Expert witness says military doctrine means commanders are ultimately responsible for armys behaviour. By Velma Saric in Sarajevo An expert witness told the trial of former Yugoslav Army, VJ, chief Momcilo Perisic this week that a military commander would retain responsibility for his troops even if they were operating in another country. British army major general Mungo Melvin was giving evidence at the Perisic war crimes after it resumed following a break of several weeks. Perisic, the most senior VJ officer to be charged with war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia, has pleaded not guilty to 13 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include aiding and abetting the 43-month siege of Sarajevo, the shelling of the Croatian capital Zagreb and the July 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. Perisics indictment alleges that he provided financial, logistical and personnel support to Serb forces in both Croatia and Bosnia between 1991 and 1995, by personally establishing two personnel centres within the Yugoslav army to covertly deploy officers to those two break-away republics and pay their salaries. Melvin had compiled a military expert report on the doctrine of troop command and management, based on the materials and sources from NATO and the British army. I used generally accepted principles and doctrines on the functioning of military troops in different countries, and adopted a principle which basically analyses the general, and not the concrete, concept of command, the witness said. During his testimony, the expert witness said, Every country which deploys its troops to another has the responsibility to undertake certain steps after it gains knowledge of violations of international law or of crimes committed by its members. This responsibility exists even then when the troops dispatched to another country are serving under the command of the receiving state. Explaining that the sending state retained responsibility for the conduct of its troops, he continued, Discipline is an absolutely vital part of military work, as without it, armed forces cannot properly function. Therefore, individuals within the armed forces have the obligation to act in a disciplined manner, and their commanders have the responsibility to ensure that discipline is enforced and upheld. Melvin said this command model was almost identical in all armies, and added that the commander is always the one in charge of taking command decisions. As I defined in my report, it is the commanders duty to intervene as soon as he finds out that there had been breaches of discipline. It is his obligation to ensure order and discipline. The commander must use all available means to follow the discipline of the troops. It is important to send regular reports in the vertical chain of command, meaning that information must flow upward from below. The commander is also responsible for undertaking regular, active steps with his subordinates to ensure that they effectively try to ensure discipline. Cross-examined by defence counsel Gregor Guy-Smith, the witness confirmed that his report was a largely generalised account. I didn't dwell much on concrete issues related to this cases and the indictment against General Perisic, Melvin said. I did not want in any way to define the command principles and system of the former Yugoslav army as I didnt have the time to write a longer detailed expert report on that issue. Had I had the time, I would be able to claim that my report speaks relevantly of this army, too. The defence counsel thus put forward an objection against including Melvins report into evidence, arguing that Melvin had been asked by the chamber to create an expert report regarding the relations between the armies of Yugoslavia, Republika Srpska and Krajina, as well the competences of Perisic in relation to these forces. We consider this document not to be worthy of introduction onto the record of evidence, and of no assistance to the clarification of the status of the individual armies mentioned, the defence continued. The objection was, however, overruled. Asked by presiding judge Bankone Moloto as to how far the report was applicable in the Perisic trial, Melvin answered that he thought certain aspects of his expertise to be certainly applicable to the case. He went on to clarify that this particularly related to issues of the concept of command and control in multinational forces. The trial continues on November 2. Velma Saric is an IWPR-trained journalist in Sarajevo. **** www.iwpr.net ******************************************************************** ICTY TRIBUNAL UPDATE, the publication arm of IWPR's International Justice Project, produced since 1996, details the events and issues at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, at The Hague. These weekly reports, produced by IWPR's human rights and media training project, seek to contribute to regional and international understanding of the war crimes prosecution process. The opinions expressed in ICTY Tribunal Update are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR. ICTY Tribunal Update is supported by the European Commission, the Dutch Ministry for Development and Cooperation, the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and other funders. IWPR also acknowledges general support from the Ford Foundation. 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