Serbian fascist Milorad Trbic found guilty of genocide
By a first-instance verdict the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina pronounces Milorad Trbic guilty of genocide committed as part of a joint criminal enterprise in Srebrenica and sentences him to 30 years in prison.
Trbic, former Assistant Commander for Security with the Zvornik Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, was pronounced guilty of having participated, through a joint criminal enterprise together with Ljubisa Beara, Vujadin Popovic and Drago Nikolic from July 10 to November 30, 1995, in operations consisting of capturing, detaining and “executing without trial” followed by burying and hiding the bodies of killed Bosniaks from Srebrenica.
“The sanction must correspond to the level of suffering. This punishment must reflect the social condemnation of the indictee’s actions. The trial and punishment has got to demonstrate that crimes committed during the course of the war will not be tolerated. The Court is aware of the fact that the victims’ families may see this sentence as too benign, while the indictee’s family will consider it as too grave, but it corresponds to the circumstances of this particular case,” Trial Chamber Chairman Davorin Jukic said.
Beara, Popovic and Nikolic, as well as four other officers of the Republika Srpska Army and Police, are awaiting the pronouncement of the verdict, before the Hague Tribunal, for genocide committed in Srebrenica.
The Trial Chamber determined that, from July 12 to 16, 1995 Trbic participated or helped others commit the murder of men from Srebrenica at various locations in Zvornik Municipality – Kula-grad, Branjevo military farm, the Cultural Center in Pilica, and school buildings in Orahovac, Rocevic and Petkovci, and supervised the murder of at least 179 people at a water-gate near Petkovac.
“Trbic executed tens of men without giving them a chance to be tried in order to intimidate, suppress and control other detainees,” said Jukic reading the verdict, adding that Trbic, “deliberately and intentionally” enabled the coordination of organized executions by coordinating the supply of logistical support, including fuel and ammunition, to the units in the field.
Trbic is sentenced for having “supervised, managed and coordinated the activities” consisting of burial of the killed people in unmarked mass graves and their exhumation and reburial at other locations “with the aim of concealing the remains and the identity of the victims”. According to the verdict this was done “as part of the implementation of the joint criminal enterprise goals” and with the aim of concealing the murder committed in the zone of responsibility of Zvornik Brigade in July 1995.
Among other things, by the same verdict Trbic was acquitted of the charges that he was responsible for the capture, mistreatment and murder of Bosniaks in Potocari and at other various locations in Bratunac, including “Vuk Karadzic” school building, stadium, meadow in Sandici and Kravica Agricultural Cooperative.
Judge Jukic mentioned that the indictee was charged with crimes committed “as part of a much broader plan”, but the Trial Chamber “defined it as the zone of responsibility of Zvornik Brigade”.
“The presented evidence was not sufficient to persuade the Chamber that Milorad Trbic committed the crimes outside the zone of responsibility of Zvornik Brigade. Trbic has been acquitted of the facts which the Chamber was not able to associate with the indictee. (…) The Chamber is not saying the events did not take place, but they could not be associated with the indictee,” judge Jukic said.
As stated by the judge, it is estimated that about 7,000 men were killed in Srebrenica. “Most of them were killed in the zone of responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade”. The Court further determined that the capture, detention and murder of Srebrenica residents were “a part of a broader plan of the VRS General Headquarters, which was implemented by security officers”.
“The Chamber is aware of the fact that a person is unlikely to admit that he or she had a special intention to exterminate a group of people. However, on the basis of evidence, it determined that the indictee had such an intention. The indictee was informed about the events in Srebrenica. He had a constant and systematic form of behaviour and lack of will to stop those actions,” the Court determined.
The Court considered the special intention, large number of victims, persistence in commitment of the crime and reburial of victims with the aim of making it impossible to locate them as aggravating circumstances when it made its decision about the sentence.
The Trial Chamber determined that there was sufficient evidence to sentence Trbic for “a basic form of joint criminal enterprise”. It did not determine that he “participated in some bigger plan”. For this reason his responsibility is “at the lower level”.
After having pronounced the verdict, the Court rendered a decision extending the custody of the indictee, which may last for 15 months from the pronouncement of the verdict.