News 15 Jun 12

Srebrenica: 142 Years of Prison For Branjevo Crimes

Former Bosnian Serb soldiers, Franc Kos, Stanko Kojic, Vlastimir Golijan and Zoran Goronja are sentenced to a total of 142 years of prison for their role in the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995.

Selma Ucanbarlic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Stanko Kojic is sentenced to 43 years, Franc Kos and Zoran Goronja to 40 years respectively, and Vlastimir Golijan to 19 years.

“As members of the 10th Sabotage Unit with the Headquarters of the Army of Republika Srpska on July 16, 1995, they executed a group of around 800 men at the Branjevo farm, near the town of Zvornik,” states the first instance verdict.

 The Trial Chamber rejected the charges of genocide because they believe that the prosecution did not prove that the accused had a genocidal intent.  

“Based on the presented evidence, the Trial Chamber concluded that they committed crimes against humanity. They could not be found guilty for assisting in genocide,” said Mira Smajlovic, the presiding judge of the Trial Chamber in her explanation of the verdict.

Smajlovic said that Golijan was convicted to a lesser sentence because he went to war as a minor, and at the time of the massacre he was younger than 21.

Explaining the verdict, the Trial Chamber said that the defence teams, during evidence hearing, tried to prove that the defendants opposed the execution of a group of men at the Branjevo farm, but that those claims were not backed by evidence.

 “The accused carried out the execution in cold blood, and during execution they took breaks to eat and drink beer in the meadow full of dead bodies while other men waited to be executed,” said Smajlovic.

The Trial Chamber established that Kos and Kojic were “checking” whether the executed men are really dead with an additional bullet to their heads.

According to the indictment, Kos was the commander of the First Platoon of the 10th Sabotage Unit of the Bosnian Serb army, while Kojic, Golijan and Goronja were members of the unit.

The unit was formed by the former Bosnian Serb Army chief, General Ratko Mladic in 1994, as a specialised squad for reconnaissance and diversion.

According to the  “Dossier on the 10th Sabotage Detachment of the Republika Srpska Army“, compiled by the Humanitarian Law Centre, a Belgrade based human rights NGO, this unit participated in two mass executions in Srebrenica in 1995.  

The Trial Chamber of the Bosnian State Court also concluded that members of the 10th Sabotage Unit participated in two attacks on Srebrenica, before the events at the military farm Branjevo.

“Members of the detachment on July 11, 1995, entered  Srebrenica with their commander Milorad Pelemis, where they searched houses and directed the population towards Potocari. That is when a member of the unit slit a throat of a person on the orders from Milorad Pelemis,” said Smajlovic.

An international warrant has been issued for the arrest of Milorad Pelemis.

There is a possibility of appeal to this verdict to the Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

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Background

Timeline: Cases for War Crimes in Pec Villages

Timeline of events in the case against 13 former Serb fighters charged with committing war crimes in the villages of Cuska, Zahac, Ljubenic and Pavlan in Kosovo in 1999.

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