Popovic and Beara found guilty of genocide 10 Jun 2010
The ICTY has convicted seven former Bosnian Serb officials for Srebrenica crimes.

On 10 June 2010 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered its judgment in the case of seven former high-ranking officials of the Bosnian Serb military and police (Popovic et. al. case).  The Trial Chamber found two of the accused, Vujadin Popović and Ljubiša Beara, guilty of genocide and imposed sentences ranging from 5 years’ to life imprisonment.

The Popovic et. al. case concerns the wide range of crimes committed by Bosnian Serb forces in the enclave of Srebrenica and Žepa in 1995. The accused were found guilty of various crimes including: genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide; extermination, a crime against humanity; murder, a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws or customs of war; murder, cruel and inhumane treatment, terrorising civilians, and forcible transfer, as acts of persecution, a crime against humanity; and forcible transfer as an inhumane act, a crime against humanity.
The Trial Chamber found that the crime of deportation had not been established.

The Prosecution argued that the seven men were a part of a Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE), which was carried out by members of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) and the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) in Eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Trial Chamber found that two JCA had existed. The first was the JCE to murder the able-bodied Bosnian Muslim men from Srebrenica (JCE to murder); the second was the JCE to forcibly remove the Bosnian Muslim population from Srebrenica and Žepa (JCE to forcibly remove). Five of the accused were alleged to have taken part in both JCE and two of the accused (Radivoje Miletić and Milan Gvero) were alleged to have taken part in the JCE to forcibly remove.

The Trial Chamber found that some of the members of the JCE to murder had the requisite genocidal intent to have committed the crime of genocide.

Trial Judgement

Vujadin Popović was Lieutenant Colonel and as assistant of the chief of the security of the Drina corps of the Bosnian Serbs Army (VRS) he was in charge, in particular, of the Bosnian Muslim prisoners of Srebrenica. He was found to be one of the main participants in the JCE to murder, but not a member of the JCE to forcibly remove. The Trial Chamber stated that: “Popović knew that the intent was not just to kill those who had fallen into the hands of the Bosnian Serb Forces, but to kill as many as possible with the aim of destroying the group. Popović’s ensuing robust participation in all aspects of the plan demonstrates that he not only knew of this intent to destroy, he also shared it.” Popović was found guilty under 7(1) of the ICTY statute of genocide, murder, extermination and persecution and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Ljubiša Beara was Chief of Security in the VRS Main Staff and he held the rank of Colonel. The Trial Chamber found that he was the “driving force behind the murder enterprise”. Ljubiša Beara was found guilty of genocide, extermination, murder, and persecution and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Drago  Nikolić  was the Chief of Security in the Zvornik Brigade, and held the rank of Second Lieutenant in the VRS. The Trial Chamber found that, while Nikolić had no genocidal intent, he “participated in the JCE to Murder with persecutory intent, that he had with knowledge of the genocidal intent of others and that he made a substantial contribution to genocide.”  Nikolić was found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide and was sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment.

Ljubomir Borovčanin was Deputy Commander of the Special Police Brigade of the MUP Forces. The Trial Chamber found that the evidence failed to demonstrate that he was aware of the plans to murder and to forcibly remove the civilian population from the area.  The evidence was also insufficient to demonstrate that he shared the intent to contribute to the common purpose of the JCA. Borovčanin was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment. The Trial Chamber took into account the fact that the gravity of the criminal conduct was diminished by aiding and abetting by omission.

Radivoje Miletić was the Chief of the Administration for Operations and Training at the VRS Main Staff. Miletić was found guilty of murder, persecution and inhumane acts (forcible transfer) and was sentenced to 19 years’ imprisonment.

Milan Gvero was the Assistant Commander for Moral, Legal and Religious Affairs of the VRS Main Staff and directly subordinated to Mladić. He was found guilty of persecution and inhumane acts (forcible transfer) and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

Vinko Pandurević was Commander of the Zvornik Brigade and held the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1995. Vinko Pandurević was found guilty of aiding and abetting murder, persecution and inhumane acts. was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment.

The Popović et. al. case  has been the largest conducted to date at the ICTY. Hearings in the trial began on 14 July 2006 and closing arguments finished on 15 September 2009.

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