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Hague prosecutor explains Bosnia war crimes trial appeal

Hague prosecutor explains Bosnia war crimes trial appeal
Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj was acquitted of crimes against humanity in March for role in Bosnian war; prosecution filed appeal

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Serge Brammertz, said he regretted the judges’ rulings regarding Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj’s role in the 1990s Bosnian war.

Brammertz analyzed the UN court's decision in March regarding ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and particularly Seselj for Anadolu Agency.

"It was a difficult case with many problems from the start, because Seselj wanted to defend himself, which caused a lot of procedural problems,” he said.

Karadzic, 70, was sentenced to 40 years in jail on 10 counts out of a total of 11 charges he faced, which were genocide and crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war that left tens of thousands of people dead.

Meanwhile, 61-year-old Seselj was acquitted of three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of violations of the laws or customs of war.

Brammertz told Anadolu Agency that he believed Seselj should have been found guilty. Therefore, the prosecutors have filed an appeal on May 2.

“Seselj has published several books in which he revealed the names of protected witnesses, which is why the witnesses were in fear,” said Brammertz.

“We feel that the judges have not done a good evaluation of the evidence we have presented,” he added. “What we considered hate speech and [inciting] to commit crimes, the judges have characterized as a encouragement of troops," he adds.

Brammertz pointed out that the fact that former Serb leader Karadzic had been convicted of committing genocide in Srebrenica was important.

"I remember when I took office in 2008 no one expected […] to see Karadzic […] arrested, and today we have a conviction for genocide in Srebrenica,” he said.

“We did not get a conviction for genocide in six municipalities, but there were convictions for war crimes,” he said. “This is an element we are seriously thinking to appeal. We are of the opinion that a genocide conviction is also justified in relation to the […] municipalities," said Brammertz.

While the court convicted Karadzic over his role in the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, he was found not guilty of genocide in seven other Bosnian municipalities -- Bratunac, Foca, Kljuc, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Vlasenica and Zvornik -- in which massacres also occurred.

Brammertz also said that Chief of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) during the Bosnian war Ratko Mladic will also be found guilty due to the evidence that was used in Karadzic's trial.

Mladic’s trial for war crimes at The Hague is ongoing.

Mladic faces charges of genocide, including the killing of 8,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslims) men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995 and the targeting of civilians during the three-year siege of Sarajevo.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces between 1992 and 1995 during the Bosnian War. Back then, Serb militias were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.

The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a "safe area" in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic – who now faces genocide charges at The Hague – overran the UN zone despite the presence of around 450 Dutch soldiers tasked with protecting innocent civilians as UN peacekeepers.

The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 Srebrenica men fled into the surrounding mountains but Serb troops hunted down and slaughtered 6,000 of them in the forests.

source: News Feed
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