Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Jelisic case recalls witnesses
Lawyers for Goran Jelisic, the so-called "Serbian Adolf" who is charged with committing genocide in the Brcko area, last week complained that a pre-sentence hearing on his case will mean having to summon the same witnesses twice -first to appear as a character witness in response to his "guilty" plea and second time to appear as a witness of fact to refute the argument that Jelisic committed murder with "a genocidal intent".
Jelisic pleaded guilty last year to a dozen murders, but not guilty to the charge which collectively qualifies these murders as genocide. Namely, he denies killing with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the Bosnian Muslims as a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.
According to the Tribunal's own rules, Jelisic is being tried for genocide, and the sentence for the murders he admitted which are qualified as "crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war" - will be passed after a pre-sentencing hearing where both sides will present mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
The trial of Goran Jelisic for genocide in Brcko started on 30 November last year and lasted for only three days. It ought to have resumed in January, but one of the judges - Fouad Riad - became ill and was forced to undergo heart surgery.
Since Jelisic did not agree to an offer to have the judges changed (according to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the judge can be replaced only with the agreement of the accused after the trial has started), the trial is currently suspended and will most likely begin again sometime this May. It remains unclear why Jelisic insists that he be tried by the Egyptian judge, who fell ill precisely as he was hearing a traumatic testimony on brutal methods with which "Serbian Adolph" killed his Muslim victims.
According to one theory, he did that on the insistence of his defense counsels, and on the "recommendation" of the authorities of Republika Srpska, that did not like the idea that a trial for genocide in Brcko should be unfolding precisely at the time when the international arbiter was making a decision on awarding the town whose demographic make-up, according to the Prosecutor, was changed by a genocide in which the accused had taken part.
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