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ICTY convicts former Serbian official Djordjevic

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Wednesday convicted [judgment, PDF] former senior Serbian police official Vlastimir Djordjevic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; case materials] on five counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, sentencing him to 27 years [press release]. Djordjevic was convicted of committing racial persecution through deportation and forcible transfer through his participation in a joint criminal enterprise and two counts of murder—one as a crime against humanity and the other as a violation of the laws or customs of war under Article 3 and 5 of the Statute of the ICTY [statute; PDF], which resulted in the death of at least 724 Kosovo Albanians. Djordjevic was the Assistant Minister of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) and Chief of its Public Security Department (RJB) during a period of war crimes against Kosovo Albanians in 1999. Djordjevic claimed that he did not have effective control over the MUP. The ICTY rejected his argument, citing evidence that Djordjevic knew of the unlawful police conduct, coordinated the work of MUP forces, had lawful powers and exercised control over the police in Kosovo, and played a critical role in the execution of the criminal enterprise. Djordjevic was held responsible for the March 26, 1999, shooting and torching of 114 men and boys, deportation of 200,000 Kosovo Albanians and for playing a leading role in concealing the murder of Kosovo Albanians. Vlastimir Djordjevic is the eighh former senior Serbian official to be tried for the crimes committed in Kosovo and the sixth to be convicted.

The ICTY began the war crimes trial [JURIST report] against Djordjevic in January 2009. Djordjevic was arrested [JURIST report] in 2007 and formally indicted [indictment, PDF] in July 2008 for his participation in crimes against humanity, murder and illegal deportation. The ICTY has also pursued criminal action against other leaders in the Kosovo conflict. On Tuesday, the ICTY began the trial [JURIST report] of former Serb nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj on charges that he released the names of 11 ICTY witnesses in violation of a confidentiality order. Last week, the ICTY ordered a six-week suspension [JURIST report] of the trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic so he could review material sent to him by the prosecution. Former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic [ICTY case materials; JURIST news archive] was tried for committing war crimes in the region, but died before a verdict could be issued. The ICTY acquitted [JURIST report] former Kosovo Prime Minister and Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander Ramush Haradinaj of all war crimes charges. Haradin Bala was convicted [UN Press release] and sentenced to 13 years in prison for his involvement with the KLA and the torture of prisoners of war. Two others were acquitted in that case.

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