UN tribunal for former Yugoslavia hands down first genocide conviction

UN tribunal for former Yugoslavia hands down first genocide conviction

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Handing down its first verdict of this kind, the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today convicted former army General Radislav Kristic of genocide and sentenced him to 46 years in prison.

In rendering its judgement, Trial Chamber I of the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said that it was "convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that a crime of genocide was committed in Srebrenica" and that Mr. Krstic was guilty of genocide.

Reading the summary of the Sentencing Judgement, Presiding Judge Almiro Rodrigues said the Chamber was "doing its duty in meting out justice and, in this way, hopes to have contributed to creating a better world."

General Krstic was accused of genocide, complicity to commit genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forced transfer or deportation and of crimes committed between July and November 1995 following the attack of the Serbian forces on the town of Srebrenica. At the time the attack was launched, General Krstic was the deputy commander of the Drina Corps, one of the corps which constitutes the army of Republika Srpska, often known as the VRS.

At today's Judgement hearing, Judge Rodrigues stressed the importance of distinguishing between what might be collective responsibility and individual responsibility, noting that the Tribunal had not been established to deal with collective responsibility. "What is of interest to me in each of the trials in which I have sat in this court is to verify whether the evidence presented before it makes it possible to find an accused guilty," he said. "I seek to judge an accused. I do not judge a people."

The Judge acknowledged that in the former Yugoslavia there were attacks against civilian populations, massacres, and crimes of persecution - some of which were committed by Serbian forces. He said that to associate this evil with Serbian identity would be an insult to the Serbian people and would betray the concept of civil society. But it would be just as monstrous not to attach any name to the evil because that could be an offence to the Serbs, he added.

"In July 1995, General Krstic, you agreed to evil," Judge Rodrigues said. "This is why the Trial Chamber convicts you today and sentences you to 46 years in prison."

During the proceedings, the Chamber heard 128 witnesses and admitted 1,100 exhibits, some of which were hundreds of pages long.