Momcilo Perisic, the most senior officer of the former Yugoslav Army to be convicted of war crimes, has appealed against his conviction by the Hague Tribunal, ICTY.
General Perisic, who commanded the Yugoslav Army during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, was jailed for 27 years by the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, last year.
Perisic’s defence appealed the first instance verdict on the grounds that numerous legal and factual errors were made.
Perisic was found guilty of aiding and abetting murders, inhumane acts, persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, and attacks on civilians in Sarajevo and Srebrenica, although he was acquitted of a direct responsibility for the Srebrenica genocide.
He was also found guilty of failing to punish his subordinates for their crimes of murder, and injuring and wounding civilians during rocket attacks on the Croatian capital Zagreb.
Requesting that Perisic be acquitted on all counts, the defence lawyer, Gregory Guy Smith, said that the prosecution admitted during the trial that not all charges against Perisic were proven.
The verdict was passed with a two votes to one majority. The presiding judge at the trial, Bakone Moloto, disagreed and noted that giving support to the Bosnian Serb army to conduct the war is not the same as aiding the committing of war crimes in that war.
Perisic himself addressed the court.
“I cannot understand the Trial Chamber’s decision. How can something be established beyond reasonable doubt if the presiding judge doubts it?” he asked, insisting he was not aware of or responsible for atrocities.
The Hague prosecution argued that “the 27-year sentence is not excessive. It is appropriate to Perisic’s key role.”
“The Trial Chamber carefully examined the evidence and assessed them in adequate context,” said the prosecution, adding that Perisic had both de jure and de facto authority.
The ICTY’s Appellate Chamber will give its ruling at a later date.