Trial Chamber Judgement in the Prlić et al. case to be rendered on 29 May 2013
The Trial Chamber Judgement in the case involving six high-level leaders of the Bosnian Croat wartime entity Herceg-Bosna is scheduled to be rendered on 29 May 2013 at 10am.
Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petković, Valentin Ćorić and Berislav Pušić are accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes including, among others, murder, rape, sexual assault, destruction of property, imprisonment, deportation and forcible transfer committed against Bosnian Muslims and other non-Croats from 1992 to 1994.
They are charged with the participation in a joint criminal enterprise the purpose of which was to politically and military subjugate, permanently remove and ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims and other non-Croats who lived in areas on the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina which were claimed to be part of the so called Croatian Community (and later Republic) of Herceg-Bosna, and to join these areas as part of a “Greater Croatia”. The indictment concentrates on the crimes committed in the municipalities of Prozor, Gornji Vakuf, Jablanica, Mostar, Ljubuški, Stolac, Čapljina and Vareš.
The six accused occupied top political and military positions in the Herceg-Bosna leadership during the indictment period. According to the indictment, as president of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), and later prime minister of the government of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, Jadranko Prlić was one of the most powerful officials in the Bosnian Croat structures at the time of the indictment. Bruno Stojić was head of the HVO department of Defence. According to the indictment, Slobodan Praljak served simultaneously as a senior Croatian Army officer, Assistant Minister of Defence and senior representative of the Croatian Ministry of Defence to the HVO government and armed forces and later as Commander of the Main Staff, playing an important role in securing weapons and ammunition for the HVO army and directly or indirectly commanding HVO forces and operations in BiH. The indictment alleges that, as Chief of the HVO Main Staff and later deputy overall commander of the HVO forces, Milivoj Petković exercised de jure and/or de facto command and control over the Herceg-Bosna/HVO armed forces, while Valentin Ćorić, as Chief of the Military Police Administration, played a key role in the establishment, administration and operation of the HVO Military Police. Berislav Pušić was Head of the Service for Exchange of Prisoners and Other Persons and President of the commission in charge of all HVO prison and detention facilities.
The Trial Chamber considered evidence on a number of criminal acts alleged by the Prosecutor. These included use of force, intimidation and terror by conducting mass arrests of Bosnian Muslims who were then either murdered, beaten, sexually assaulted and otherwise abused. In attacks on Muslim towns, villages and areas, there was systematic shelling and sniping on civilians. Property owned by Muslim civilians was destroyed to ensure there would be no return of the population. Detention units were set up to detain Bosnian Muslims, including the elderly, women and children. They were often kept in horrible conditions and deprived of basic human necessities, such as adequate food, water and medical care. Many detainees were also used as forced labour or to retrieve dead bodies in dangerous combat situations.
The initial indictment against Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petković, Valentin Ćorić and Berislav Pušić was confirmed on 4 March 2004 and made public on 2 April 2004. All six accused surrendered on 5 April 2004. At their initial appearance on 6 April 2004, they all pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The trial commenced on 26 April 2006. The Prosecution completed its case on 24 January 2008 after calling 145 witnesses. The defence case commenced on 5 May 2008 and officially closed on 17 May 2010 after a total of 61 witnesses were called to testify. The closing arguments were held between 7 February and 2 March 2011. The total number of trial days amounted to 465.
Since its establishment, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Proceedings against 136 have been concluded. Proceedings are currently ongoing for 25 accused.
The Judgement will be broadcast live on the Tribunal’s website
The Spokesperson for Registry and Chambers, Magdalena Spalińska, can be reached on +31 (0)6 5127 1242 or +31(0)70 512 5066 and spalinska [at] un.org
For further information please call the Media Office at +31 (70) 512-8752 or -5343 or -5356.