At UN war crimes tribunal, Bosnian Serb soldier pleads guilty to rape and torture

At UN war crimes tribunal, Bosnian Serb soldier pleads guilty to rape and torture

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A former Bosnian Serb soldier and de facto military policeman today pleaded guilty before a United Nations war crimes tribunal to charges that he raped and tortured Bosnian Muslim women and girls during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

A former Bosnian Serb soldier and de facto military policeman today pleaded guilty before a United Nations war crimes tribunal to charges that he raped and tortured Bosnian Muslim women and girls during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Dragan Zelenović admitted being involved in an attack on the eastern Bosnian town of Foca and surrounding villages in July 1992.

The ICTY, sitting in The Hague, found Mr. Zelenović guilty of seven counts of crimes against humanity and agreed to a prosecution request as part of the plea agreement to withdraw seven other counts of torture and rape.

On 3 July 1992, Mr. Zelenović and other Bosnian Serb soldiers arrested at least 60 women, children and elderly men from the villages of Trošanj and Mješaji and took them to Buk Bijela, site of a temporary detention and interrogation facility. Once there, Mr. Zelenović raped and tortured a 15-year-old girl and aided in the rape and torture of another victim.

Mr. Zelenović participated later the same month in the gang-rape and torture of a number of women and girls being held at a high school in Foca. Anyone who resisted the sexual assaults there was beaten or threatened with death.

The 15-year-old girl from Buk Bijela was repeatedly raped again – including a gang-rape by Mr. Zelenović and three other men – between mid-July and mid-August while being held with more than 70 other detainees at a sports hall in Foca in conditions marked by inhumane treatment, starvation, overcrowding and a lack of hygiene.

In a separate attack in October 1992, Mr. Zelenović and two others raped four women being held in a house just outside Foca.

Prosecutors have asked for a sentence of 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment for Mr. Zelenović, while his defence lawyers have recommended a sentence of between seven and 10 years’ jail.