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Krnojelac Case: Pleads Not Guilty For A Second Time

Tribunal Update 143: Last Week in The Hague (13-18 September, 1999)

From April 1992 until August 1993, 59 year old Krnojelac was commander of the Foca penitentiary, which had been turned into a large detention centre for Bosniaks and other non-Serbs at the beginning of the war.

During the first few months, the prison - one of the largest institutions of its kind in the socialist Yugoslavia - was overcrowded. The number of detainees peaked at over 760, but later stabilised at about 600. According to the indictment, as prison commander, Milorad Krnojelac, has individual criminal responsibility as well as command responsibility for the alleged crimes against detained civilians.

The indictment classifies these acts into five categories: persecution on racial, political and religious grounds; torture and beatings; wilful killings and murder; unlawful confinement, imprisonment, and inhumane conditions, and enslavement (i.e. forced labour).

After the defence objected that the indictment was imprecise, and that the prosecutor had not clearly specified how the accused had taken part in the crimes, the prosecution changed some allegations. The new indictment covers a shortened time span to cover only the period during which Krnojelac was commander of the Foca centre. Allegations that the accused took part in the crimes by allowing or sending the soldiers to enter the prison and maltreat the detainees were added to the indictment. The list of victims has also been extended and submitted with it.

After the accused pleaded once again, Judge David Hunt said that the trial of Krnojelac should start by the end of this year. However, defence counsel Milorad Vasic announced that he would lodge an objection to the changed indictment, as he still considers it "imprecise".

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