ICTY sentences former Yugoslav army chief to 27 years
ICTY sentences former Yugoslav army chief to 27 years
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[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Tuesday convicted [judgment, PDF] ex-Yugoslav army chief Momcilo Perisic [ICTY profile, PDF; JURIST news archive] for crimes against humanity and war crimes [press release], committed during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, sentencing him to 27 years in prison. He was found guilty of 12 out of 13 charges, including aiding and abetting murders occurring during the Srebrenica massacre [JURIST news archive], inhumane acts, attacks on civilians, unjust persecutions and having knowingly supplied “extensive logistical assistance” to the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and the Army of Serbian Krajina (SVK) that would be used to torture and kill hundreds of Muslim civilians. He was also found guilty on the basis of command responsibility for the inhumane acts of his officers and subsequently failing to punish them. The judgement against Perisic states:

It would be difficult to over state the magnitude of the crimes perpetrated in Sarajevo. The siege lasted for nearly four years during which Sarajevo civilians endured conditions of terror due to the indiscriminate nature of the attacks. Thousands of men, women and children were killed, and tens of thousands injured. In particular, Sarajevo civilians were regularly shelled and sniped in the course of [Perisic’s] tenure as Chief of the VJ General Staff, a lengthy time span. … Civilians were targeted in their homes, at places of worship, in hospitals and schools. Women, children, and the elderly were not spared.

Perisic is the first Yugoslav convicted [AP report] by the UN for crimes committed during the war in Bosnia. Perisic is entitled to time served and has a right to appeal. Ratko Mladic [JURIST news archive], with whom Perisic allegedly collaborated, is still awaiting trial for genocide at The Hague.

In March, UN prosecutors demanded that Perisic receive a life sentence [JURIST report] for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Bosnian Muslims in the early 1990s. Perisic’s trial began [JURIST report] in October 2008, and closing arguments concluded at the end of March. ICTY Prosecutor Mark Harmon said Perisic was one of the “principal collaborators” of late Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive], claiming in his opening statement that Perisic “created an environment of impunity, wherein his subordinates were encouraged and did persist to commit crimes, knowing there would be no consequences.” Perisic turned himself in to the UN in 2005, surrendering to officials [JURIST reports] from the ICTY.