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Brdjanin & Talic Indictment: Amended To Cover Alleged Genocide In Krajina

Tribunal Update 157: Last Week in The Hague (December 20-24, 1999)

Zeljko Meakic and Dusko Sikirica, commanders of the Omarska and Keraterm camps, were charged with the gravest crime - genocide - for crimes committed in that area. Milan Kovacevic, then a member of the Crises Headquarters of the municipality of Prijedor, was similarly charged, but died immediately before the beginning of the trial.

But genocide charges were not brought against Brdjanin and Talic, even though they were, according to the prosecutor, the senior authority in the entire region of Bosanska Krajina, including Prijedor and its infamous Omarska and Keraterm camps.

Instead they were only charged in the original Krajina Indictment (see Tribunal Updates Nos. 133 and 140) with one count of crime against humanity, for persecution of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats on political, racial or religious grounds.

The new, amended Krajina Indictment, confirmed by Judge Almiro Simoes Rodrigues on December 17 1999, addresses this. Under the new indictment Brdjanin and Talic are charged with eleven more counts, including two for genocide.

The indictment cites Brdjanin, as President of the Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK), Talic, as commanding officer of 1st Krajina Corps of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), "and others" - indicating that other names may be held under secret seal on the indictment.

The indictment says the two "individually and in concert planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided or abetted... a campaign designed to destroy Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, in whole or in part, as national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such, in the area designated as the ARK, including, but not limited to, the municipalities of Prijedor, Kotor Varos, Sanski Most, Kljuc and Banjaluka."

According to the indictment, that campaign was carried out in those parts of Bosanska Krajina where the Muslims or Croats comprised a majority or represented a significant percentage. These populations did not fit the two's concept of an "ethnically clean" ARK where, according to a statement by Radoslav Brdjanin, there was 'room' only for a two per cent non-Serb population.

The execution of their genocidal campaign, according to the indictment, included, but was not limited to, the killing of Muslims and Croats during and after attacks by Bosnian Serb forces on villages and non-Serb areas; in camps and other detention facilities; and during the deportation of forcible transfer of the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats.

In pursuit of this same campaign, serious bodily or mental harm was caused to Muslims and Croats in camps and detention facilities. During interrogations at police stations and military barracks detainees were continuously subjected to or forced to witness inhumane acts including murder, rape, sexual assault, torture and beating.

Finally, the campaign of genocide included detaining Muslims and Croats under conditions calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a part of those groups; namely through beatings or other physical maltreatment, starvation rations, foul water, insufficient or non-existent medical care, unhygienic conditions and lack of space.

For genocide and/or complicity in genocide (counts one and two), Brdjanin and General Talic are accused according to two grounds envisaged in the Tribunal's Statute: on the basis of their individual criminal responsibility and their his command or superior authority responsibility.

They "knew or had reason to know that Serb forces under their control were committing" the crimes (genocide)... but they "failed to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators thereof".

Apart from two counts of genocide, Brdjanin and Talic are also accused of 'persecutions, extermination and wilful killing, torture, deportation, unlawful and wanton extensive destruction and appropriation of property; wanton destruction and devastation of villages and institutions dedicated to religion'.

These acts are qualified in the remaining ten counts of the amended Krajina Indictment", as crimes against humanity (five counts), violations of the laws or customs of war (two counts), and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions (three counts).

Radoslav Brdjanin and Momir Talic will enter a plea to all these charges in a hearing scheduled for January 11 2000.