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

Courtside: Krstic Case

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 301, 17-21 February 2003)

Krstic's August 2001 conviction for crimes committed in Srebrenica was the first genocide conviction passed by the tribunal. His sentence of 46 years remains a Hague record, but now his lawyers are demanding a fresh look at the facts.

Srebrenica remains Bosnia's worst war crime. In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces executed more than 7,000 unarmed Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) after capturing the eastern town.

Now Krstic's lawyers say new facts have come to light proving he was not responsible for the crime. They are expected to present evidence that there was a "parallel command structure" operating among Serb forces at the time.

Thus, while Krstic was a senior general, he may argue that he did not have command over some armed units present at the time, who took their orders from elsewhere.

The defence is also appealing against what they say was a failure to disclose evidence on the part of prosecutors.

This evidence, believed also to include intelligence intercepts, is believed also to show that Krstic was not in command of the Drina corps, one of the key units blamed for the massacre, on July 13, before the crime, but only on July 20, after the killings had taken place.

The issue of parallel chains of command has become a key topic in The Hague as evidence in the trial of former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic appears to show that he operated one level of command through the army and another through the police, keeping each unit ignorant of orders given to the other.

Chris Stephen is IWPR's bureau chief in The Hague.

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