News 03 Dec 12

Serbia Wants ICTY Convicts in Local Prisons

Serbia will reiterate its request that the Hague Tribunal allows its citizens, who are convicted before this court, to serve their sentences in the country. 

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

According to the Head of Serbian National Council for Cooperation with the ICTY, Rasim Ljajic, Serbia is already negotiating this issue with the ICTY.

“The final decision needs to be made before the UN, but the ICTY can give its advisory opinion,” Ljajic told the local media on Sunday.

According to the 1993 UN recommendation those convicted of war crimes should not serve their sentences in their country of origin.

Serbia is reiterating its request following the ICTY acquittals of two Croatian Generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, and the former Kosovo PM Ramush Haradinaj and two other Kosovo Liberation Army commanders, all charged for war crimes committed during the 1990s conflicts.

The verdicts caused anger in Serbia, while in Croatia and Kosovo their wartime leaders were welcomed as heroes.

The Serbian National Council for ICTY Cooperation has requested several times for Serbia to be listed among countries were the ICTY convicts could serve their sentences.

So far 17 European countries have signed the Agreement on the Enforcement of Sentences with the ICTY.

Austria has received the highest number of convicts – six of them, followed by Spain, Finland, Norway and Italy, with five convicts each, then Germany, Denmark and France with four, UK and Sweden with three, Estonia with two and Portugal where one ICTY convict is serving his sentence.

Where should the ICTY convicts serve out their sentences was a subject of a debate last December when Radislav Krstic, was transferred back to the Scheveningen detention unit in The Hague from Great Britain where he was serving his sentence.

Krstic, former Commander of the Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment in April 2004 for aiding and abetting the Srebrenica genocide. In December 2004 he was transferred to the United Kingdom to serve his sentence.

The ICTY was unable to comment on the reasons for transferring Krstic, but according to diplomatic sources it was due to “security issues”.

“Krstic was subject to constant provocations and he spent all the time in his cell. In his former prison in Great Britain he was attacked, so he was transferred to another prison but there he was also subject to provocations,” BIRN’s Justice Report was told by diplomatic sources.

Krstic will remain in the UN Detention Unit in The Hague until an official decision is reached to send him to Poland to serve the remainder of his sentence.

 

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