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

General Krstic 'Not Guilty' Of Srebrenica Genocide

Tribunal Update 105: Last Week in The Hague (7-12 December, 1998)
By IWPR

On December 7, five days after his arrest by SFOR on the road between Bijeljina and Brcko in Republika Srpska, Krstic was brought before the Tribunal and formally charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war.


The general appeared before the judges and a packed public gallery, wearing a green suit and multi-coloured tie, and made his short walk to the box without any visible difficulty. Because his right leg is amputated from below the knee, the judges allowed him to remain seated during the proceedings after a request by the Defence counsel, Belgrade lawyer Nenad Petrusic.


Prior to the reading of indictment, presiding Judge Claude Jorda asked the accused how was he feeling, to which the general's reply was "more or less well".


Krstic calmly followed the thirty-minute reading of indictment and recounting of Srebrenica's execution grounds and mass graves. In a composed and resolute manner, he gave his reply to each of the six counts of the indictment that charge him of genocide or complicity to commit genocide, extermination, murder and persecution of Bosnian Muslim civilians on political, racial or religious grounds. "Not guilty," he pleaded each time.


A trial will therefore be held and be preceeded by the Prosecutor's presentation of evidence to defence within thirty days. The Defence will then have two months to file preliminary motions.


After the hearing, Petrusic announced that his first move will be to request the temporary release of the accused on health grounds and due to the lack of appropriate therapy treatment within the Detention Unit.


In reply to the presiding judge's question on whether the sides will be ready to begin the trial in late March or early April, Prosecutor Brenda Hollis's answer was positive, addeding that the Prosecution would be calling between 50 and 70 witnesses. The Defence meanwhile, declined to commit itself to the timetable on the grounds of not yet having had access to the evidence.


This did not however prevent Petrusic from making a self-confident statement that "the Prosecutor does not have a single shred of evidence against General Krstic."