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

Prosecution Winds Up in Dragomir Milosevic Trial

Judges say evidence introduced during prosecution case was “capable of supporting all counts” against the defendant.
By Sara Goodman
The prosecution finished its case this week against former Bosnian Serb general Dragomir Milosevic, with judges ruling that on all seven counts listed in the indictment, there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed.

Milosevic, commander of the Bosnian Serb army’s Sarajevo-Romanija Corps from August 1994 to the end of the war in November 1995, is charged with continuing a campaign of shelling and sniping on Sarajevo with the primary intent to kill and terrorise the civilian population.

In August 1994, Milosevic took over command from General Stansilav Galic, who was recently sentenced on appeal to life imprisonment for his role in the 1992-95 siege of Sarajevo, and remained in command until the end of the war in November 1995.

The campaign allegedly targeted civilians almost daily, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children of all ages and injuring thousands more.

The defence argued the prosecution didn’t prove any of the charges in the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defence counsel Branislav Tapuskovic argued the prosecution “was completely unable to prove” that the shelling and sniping campaign was uniquely targeted at civilians, with the aim of terrorising them, and that Milosevic knew about any crimes committed by his subordinates.

Tapuskovic also said it was impossible for Milosevic to have “inherited” criminal responsibility from Galic. He said the prosecution failed to establish Milosevic’s criminal responsibility, saying that it assumed certain allegations presented in the Galic case without taking the time to prove their relevance to this case.

The prosecution team, led by Alex Whiting, responded that it did not need to prove the campaign’s sole objective was to target and terrorise civilians, but that it was a primary goal. It said that for each count listed in the indictment, it has provided sufficient evidence for the case to go forward.

The three main points on which the prosecution presented its case are sniping, shelling and causing terror to the civilian population.

Presiding judge Patrick Robinson said the judges heard evidence from a number of witnesses that there was deliberate sniping of civilians, including the targeting ambulances, homes and young children in a way that was both “widespread and systematic”.

The judges also identified sufficient evidence linking the shelling and bombing of the civilian population in Sarajevo to positions held by the Serbian army at the time listed in the indictment.

Furthermore, Judge Robinson said witnesses testified that based on the strategy of dropping shells randomly across densely populated areas, it seemed the Bosnian Serb army’s intent was to “keep the general level of terror high”.

Finally, the judges affirmed there was evidence the accused had “effective control” of the Bosnian Serb army around Sarajevo, that he knew what the soldiers were doing and failed to take appropriate measures to stop or punish crimes committed.

The judges concluded the hearing by dismissing the defence’s submission for an acquittal, saying the evidence introduced throughout the prosecution’s case was “capable of supporting all counts” against the defendant and the trial should continue.

At the end of the hearing, Whiting announced he would be leaving the case to take a teaching position at Harvard Law School. Stefan Waespi will take the lead for the prosecution.

The defence will begin its case on Thursday, May 24.

Sara Goodman is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

More IWPR's Global Voices

Amid Pandemic, Cuban State Curbs Its Entrepreneurs
The crackdown on street vendors selling basic goods means people have to join long queues in government-run shops.
Cuba's Elderly Work Through the Pandemic
Cuba Slow to Act Over Domestic Abuse
Tajikistan’s Next President: No Surprises
Experts’ assumptions that the country’s leader Emomali Rahmon would nominate his son for this election are disproved.
The Belarus Awakening, as Seen from Georgia
The Belarus Awakening, as Seen from Georgia