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Appeals Process Continues for Ex-Officers Convicted of Srebrenica Crimes

Next status conference set for September 26.
By Rachel Irwin

Five former Bosnian Serb army officers convicted of crimes relating to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre will appear in court on September 26 for a status conference in their appeals case.

Status conferences are held every 120 days in appeals cases to address procedural matters and the health of defendants, in this case five men convicted in relation to Europe’s worst mass killing since the Second World War.

Two of the men– senior officers Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara – were found guilty in June 2010 of committing genocide and sentenced to life in prison. Drago Nikolic, chief of security in the Zvornik Brigade of the Bosnian Serb army, was found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Radivoje Miletic, chief of operations and training in the main staff of the Bosnian Serb army, was convicted of murder and persecution and given a 19-year prison sentence. Vinko Pandurevic, a lieutenant colonel who commanded the Zvornik Brigade, was found guilty of murder and given 13 years.

The trial was the biggest in the tribunal’s history, with seven defendants, two of whom are not taking part in the appeals process. One is Milan Gvero, assistant commander for morale, legal and religious affairs in the Bosnian Serb army, who was found guilty of persecution and forcible transfer. He was sentenced to five years in prison but granted early release shortly after the 2010 judgement.

The other is Ljubomir Borovcanin, deputy commander of the special police brigade of the Bosnian Serb interior ministry, was convicted of extermination and murder and sentenced to 17 years. Neither his defence nor the prosecution is appealing against his sentence. Borovcanin was transferred to a prison in Denmark in November 2011.

Srebrenica, a town in eastern Bosnia, was declared a United Nations safe area in 1993 but fell to Bosnian Serb forces on July 11, 1995. Reading out the verdict on June 10, 2010, Judge Carmel Agius described the way Bosniak men and boys were captured and detained in various detention centres in the days that followed the capture of the enclave.

“An atmosphere of terror was maintained through beatings and sporadic executions,” he said. “Their spirits broken, the Bosnian Muslim men were taken for execution. Some were blindfolded and their hands tied, and at one detention site they were given a final cup of water. Then they were transported to nearby locations and shot.”

The trial chamber found that the number of victims could be as high as 7,826, since remains continue to be identified.

Rachel Irwin is IWPR Senior Reporter in The Hague.