Vlastimir Đorđević’s responsibility for crimes in Kosovo confirmed on appeal
The Appeals Chamber today pronounced its judgement in the case of Vlastimir Đorđević, confirming his guilt for crimes committed by Serbian forces during a campaign of terror and violence against Kosovo Albanians during the conflict in Kosovo. It partially granted the appeals of both the Defence and the Prosecution and reduced Đorđević’s sentence from 27 years to 18 years in prison.
The case concerned events in Kosovo between 1 January and 20 June 1999. During this time, Đorđević was Assistant Minister of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) and Chief of its Public Security Department (RJB).
In 2011, the Trial Chamber convicted Đorđević for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity through his participation in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE). It also found him guilty on the basis of aiding and abetting the same crimes.
The Appeals Chamber today confirmed the Trial Chamber’s finding that, during the time relevant to the indictment, Đorđević participated in a JCE which had the purpose of changing the ethnic balance of Kosovo to ensure Serbian control over the province and was implemented through the crimes of murder, deportation, other inhumane acts (forcible transfer), and persecutions.
The Appeals Chamber reversed Đorđević’s convictions on the basis of aiding and abetting the crimes committed in Kosovo. It found that “the criminal conduct of Mr. Đorđević is fully reflected in a conviction based solely on his participation in JCE”.
The Appeals Chamber also reversed certain Trial Chamber findings in relation to Đorđević’s responsibility for crimes committed in the implementation of the JCE.
Specifically, the Trial Chamber’s findings on deportation and persecutions through deportation with regard to the displacement of persons from Kosovo to Montenegro were overturned as the Appeals Chamber found no support for the existence of a de facto border, a condition necessary to establish a crime of deportations.
Further, the Appeals Chamber reversed the first-instance findings on Đorđević’s criminal responsibility in relation to a limited number of specific incidents. These included deportation from Kladernica/Klladërnicë (Srbica/Skënderaj municipality), and Suva Reka/Suharekë town, as well as other inhumane acts (forcible transfer) at Brocna/Burojë and Tušilje/Tushilë (Srbica/Skënderaj municipality) and Ćuska/Qyushk (Peć/Pejë municipality). Moreover, Đorđević’s conviction for murder in relation to the killing of 11 individuals at Podujevo/Podujevë town and Mala Kruša/Krushë e Vogël (Orahovac/Rahovec municipality) was reversed. The conviction for the crime of persecutions in relation to these incidents was also quashed.
The Appeals Chamber dismissed the remainder of Đorđević’s grounds of appeal, Judge Güney and Judge Tuzmukhamedov dissenting in part.
The Appeals Chamber further granted the Prosecution’s appeal regarding sexual assaults. It found, Judge Güney and Judge Tuzmuzkamedov dissenting in part, Đorđević guilty of persecutions through sexual assaults in relation to several incidents, pursuant to the third category of JCE.
Overall, the Appeals Chamber today granted one of Đorđević’s grounds of appeal in full, and three grounds in part. It also granted one of the two grounds presented by the Office of the Prosecutor.
Judge Güney appended a partially dissenting and separate opinion and Judge Tuzmukhamedov appended a dissenting opinion.
Vlastimir Đorđević was indicted in 2003 but remained on the run until his arrest on 17 June 2007. His trial began on 27 January 2009 and concluded with closing arguments on 13 and 14 July 2010. The Trial Judgement was pronounced on 23 February 2011.
The Tribunal issued indictments against 16 individuals for the crimes committed in Kosovo. With today’s judgment, all these cases have now been concluded.
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 141 have now been concluded.