After more than two-and-a-half years, the trial of Mico Stanisic and Stojan Zupljanin, two former high-ranking police officials of Republika Srpska, ended last week with the presentation of closing arguments.
The prosecution asked that the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, sentence Stanisic and Zupljanin to life imprisonment for the persecution of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in 1992, while the defence called for their clients to be freed of all charges, claiming that they had no knowledge of crimes against non-Serbs.
The Hague Prosecutor Joanna Corner said that life imprisonment would be the only adequate sentence for the two defendants, both of whom participated in the persecution of non-Serbs in 1992, contrary to their obligation to protect all Bosnian citizens.
According to the charges, Stanisic, the wartime Minister of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, RS and Zupljanin, the Chief of the Regional Police station in Banja Luka, participated in the persecution, torture, murder and extermination of Muslims and Croats in 1992.
The trial of Stanisic and Zupljanin began on September 14, 2009. Stanisic voluntarily surrendered to the Tribunal in March 2005, while the Serbian authorities arrested Zupljanin in the town of Pancevo, near Belgrade, in June 2008 and extradited him.
The prosecutor said that the indictees were “fully devoted” to a joint criminal enterprise, whose aim was to ethnically cleanse Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats from the territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, according to the plan, should have become parts of the Serb controlled state.
“The indictees did everything in their power to implement the enterprise,” the prosecutor said.
The defence team for both defendants asked the ICTY to free Stanisic and Zupljanin of all charges. The defence lawyers claimed that the prosecution failed to prove any of the counts of the indictment, including the defendants’ alleged participation in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at expelling non-Serbs from Bosnian Serb controlled territories.
“Such a joint criminal enterprise did not take place. Even if it did, Stanisic had no knowledge of it, nor did he support it. On the contrary, if such a plan was in existence, Stanisic blocked its implementation by his actions”, said Slobodan Zecevic, Stanisic’s lawyer.
Zupljanin’s defence team also said that their client was not a member of a joint criminal enterprise.
Lawyers for both defendants said they accept that a certain number of crimes against non-Serbs did occur, but they claimed that the responsibility for them lay with the municipality staff – such as the one in Prijedor – which Stanisic and Zupljanin could not control.
The ICTY Trial Chamber will decide at a later date when the verdict will be passed.