News 10 Feb 17

Srebrenica Convict Ljubisa Beara Dies in Germany

The former chief of security at the main headquarters of the Bosnian Serb Army, Ljubisa Beara, has died in a German prison where he was serving a life term for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

Erna Mackic
Ljubisa Beara. Photo: ICTY

Ljubisa Beara has died in Berlin aged 77 while serving a life sentence for war crimes in Bosnia.

“His family have confirmed that [the death],” Milomir Savic, president of the War Veterans Association of Republika Srpska, told BIRN.

Beara was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 when he was found guilty of committing genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia, and with joining with others to commit genocide there.

Bosnian Serb forces under General Ratko Mladic killed some 7,000 Bosniak men and boys in the eastern Bosnian town after the UN-declared "safe area" was overrun on July 11, 1995.

In 2016, the Croatian journalist Ivica Djikic in a book described Beara as “the co-creator and main operational organiser” of the massacre, which has been deemed an act of genocide.

The former security chief of the Main Headquarters of the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, was the 13th Hague Tribunal defendant to die during a trial or while serving a prison sentence for crimes committed in the wars in former Yugoslavia.

He is second Srebrenica war-crimes convict to die. Zdravko Tolimir died last February aged 68 while awaiting transfer to a prison to serve life for genocide in Srebrenica.

According to the Hague war crimes tribunal, ICTY, the current average age of detainees is 63.

Current prisoners include Mladic, the former commander of the VRS, and Radovan Karadzic, former president of Republika Srpska.

Mladic has had two strokes and some victims of the Bosnian war have expressed concern that he may not live to see the pronouncement of a second-instance verdict on charges of genocide and other crimes in Bosnia.

Karadzic requested an inspection of conditions in the Detention Unit of the ICTY in Scheveningen, Holland, claiming that 11 detainees had been diagnosed with malignant diseases since 2008.

Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia's former president, on trial for genocide and war crimes, as well as Milan Kovacevic, a former member of the Crisis Committee of the Prijedor municipality in Bosnia, both died at the Detention Unit. So did Slavko Dokmanovic, former president of the Vukovar municipality in Croatia.

Two others jailed for war crimes by the ICTY died while serving their sentences. Those were Mile Mrksic, who was jailed for 20 years for crimes in Vukovar, and Milan Babic, jailed for 13 years for crimes in Croatia. Mrksic was serving his sentence in Portugal and Babic in Britain.

An expert health team from Rotterdam has rejected allegations by Karadzic’s defence that there was “an epidemic of malignant diseases” at the Detention Unit and that detainees were exposed to an increased risk of cancer.

Doctors from the Erasmus Health Center in a final report following analysis of the health of prisoners in Scheveningen said there was “no evidence of an increased incidence of cancer”.

“We noticed a mix of different types of cancers, which have different causes. Most probably they began before those people were detained,” the doctors' report read.

Other ICTY defendants have died on temporary release granted during their trials, or awaiting being sent to a prison to serve their sentences.

They include Drago Nikolic, died in 2015, who was jailed for 35 years over Srebrenica, and Milan Gvero, former member of the VRS Main Headquarters, who died 2013 while on temporary release following a first-instance verdict of five years.

Momir Talic died in 2003 while on temporary release before his trial ended as did Rasim Delic, former commander of the Main Headquarters of the Bosnian Army, ABiH, who was jailed for three years.

Mehmed Alagic, former commander of the Third and Seventh Corps of the Bosnian Army, ABiH, died in 2003 before his trial for crimes in central Bosnia ended.

Djordje Djukic, a former member of the VRS Main Headquarters, was another defendant who died in 1999 while on temporary release.

Nine people charged with war crimes in Bosnia and the region either died or were killed prior to being extradited to the Tribunal, including Zeljko Raznatovic, also known as Arkan, who was killed in 2000.

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