Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Briefly Noted

By IWPR staff in The Hague (TU No 430, 18-Nov-05)
By IWPR
Jankovic - who faces seven charges of violations of the laws and customs of war and seven of crimes against humanity - surrendered to the tribunal in March this year after nine years on the run. According to the indictment, he was a sub-commander of the military police and one of the main paramilitary leaders in Foca.

Under the tribunal's rules, low- and mid-ranking cases can be transferred to local courts as part of the tribunal's completion strategy, which foresees the ending of the initial trials by 2008.

Jankovic is part of a larger group originally accused of crimes which followed the Bosnian Serb assault on the town of Foca in southeastern Bosnia. Three Serb soldiers have already been found guilty of rape and sexual enslavement and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 12 to 28 years.

One, Radovan Stankovic, who faces eight counts of war crimes for enslavement, rape and outrages upon personal dignity, has already had his case transferred to Sarajevo.

Two others in the original group committed suicide. Another, Dragan Zelenovic, was arrested in western Siberia in August. The court is negotiating his transfer to The Hague with the Russian authorities.

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Following elections among the judges, the new president of the tribunal is Judge Fausto Pocar from Italy, replacing Judge Theodor Meron. The new-vice president is Judge Kevin Parker from Australia. They will both serve a two year term.

Judge Pocar has been at The Hague since 2000, first sitting in a trial chamber and then as a member of the Appeals Chamber. He was vice-president of the tribunal from 2003.

Judge Parker is currently presiding over the trial of the "Vukovar Three" - three Bosnian Serb soldiers charged with responsibility for the deaths of more than 250 individuals from the hospital in Vukovar, Croatia, in 1991.

Two new permanent judges were sworn in this week - Judge Bakone Justice Moloto of South Africa, and Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert of Belgium. The latter previously served as an ad litem (temporary) judge.

Their terms of office will last four years, until 2009. According to the tribunal's completion strategy, all first instance trails should be finished by 2008 and appeals by 2010.

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In one of his last acts as president of the Hague tribunal, Judge Theodor Meron has underlined the need for Belgrade to continue cooperating with the international war crimes court.

Following talks in Belgrade with Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica on November 11, Judge Meron spoke of the "considerable progress" the country had made in cooperating with the tribunal over the past year.

But he added that the international community is "truly impatient" about delays in fulfilling the remainder of Serbia's obligations. The war crimes fugitives of most concern, he underlined, are former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic and ex-Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic, both charged with genocide.

Judge Meron argued that besides serving Belgrade's own long-term interests, the transfer of the remaining Hague fugitives would also fulfil the country's moral obligation to hand over people charged with "egregious crimes which stand in stark contrast to the heroic traditions of the Serbian people".

Following a meeting with chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte on November 16, the chairman of Serbia and Montenegro's National Council for Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, Rasim Ljajic, denied rumours that Belgrade is currently negotiating Mladic's surrender.

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The tribunal has for the second time decided to grant provisional release to Nebojsa Pavkovic, a senior Yugoslav army general charged with four counts of crimes against humanity and one count of violating the laws and customs of war during the 1999 campaign to drive thousands of Kosovo Albanians from their homes following the start of NATO air strikes.

However, the order has been stayed pending an appeal by the prosecution.

The first decision in September was challenged by the prosecution, and the appeals chamber returned the issue to the trial chamber for further consideration.

The court examined again the question of whether Pavkovic would appear for trial, in the light of statements the made before surrendering which "indicate his hostile and aggressive attitude” to the tribunal. It also considered whether he would pose a danger to witnesses, given that he had "publicly threatened every person who would surrender him to the tribunal".

The court set out strict conditions which the accused would have to abide by, including having to report daily to police in Belgrade. The Serbian government offered guarantees that he would return to The Hague for trial if given provisional release.

Pavkovic is charged with the alleged crimes in Kosovo along with six others. They are three other top Serbian army and police generals - Vladimir Lazarevic, Sreten Lukic and Vlastimir Djordjevic, who is on the run; two other senior politicians, Milan Milutinovic, former president of Serbia, and Nikola Sainovic, former deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia; and Dragoljub Ojdanic former Yugoslav minister of defence.

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