UN tribunal sentences former Yugoslav general to eight years for war crimes

31 January 2005

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today sentenced retired Lt. Gen. Pavle Strugar to eight years in jail in connection with the bombardment of historic and religious sites in the Old Town of Dubrovnik in Croatia in 1991.

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today sentenced retired Lt. Gen. Pavle Strugar to eight years in jail in connection with the bombardment of historic and religious sites in the Old Town of Dubrovnik in Croatia in 1991.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) gave General Strugar credit for the 457 days he has already been in custody.

For not stopping the shelling of Dubrovnik or punishing the subordinates who ordered and carried it out , General Strugar, who formerly served with the Yugoslav Peoples' Army (JNA), was found guilty of two counts of war crimes against the civilian population and destruction of cultural and historical monuments. He was acquitted of four other charges, including the killing of two civilians.

The shelling of one of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites took place after Croatia declared itself independent of Serb-dominated Yugoslavia in 1991.

General Strugar's crimes against persons "would have been punishable in the former Yugoslavia by sentences ranging from 5 to 20 years of imprisonment, and the crimes against property by sentences ranging from 1 to 15 years of imprisonment," the court said.

Among the mitigating circumstances were the former general's voluntary surrender to the authorities in 2001, his advanced age of 71 and that of his Serbo-Croatian wife of 47 years, Katica Strugar, as well as their ill health. General Strugar was suffering from bouts of dementia and Mrs. Strugar had become dependent on their two sons, who were both unemployed, it noted.

In addition, "Mrs. Strugar, a woman of Serbian and Croatian background, stated that their different ethnic backgrounds were never an obstacle to their life together. She portrayed her husband as a good husband and father who always tried hard to keep the family together although they were forced to move frequently due to his service with the JNA," it said.

The Court said it had examined a large amount of evidence, "characterized by contradiction and inconsistency," to determine relatively few issues. The task of weighing the evidence on some issues was made more difficult because "witnesses who played a material role have not been called to give evidence, and because some relevant records and documents have not been located."

 

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