1 Tuesday, 14th December, 1999
2 [Sentencing Proceedings]
3 [Open session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 11.10 a.m.
6 JUDGE JORDA: [Interpretation] Please be
8 I should first of all like to say good
9 morning to the interpreters and make sure that everyone
10 can hear me. Yes. Thank you. Mr. Registrar, I see
11 that the accused is in the courtroom. Will you please
12 call the case, please.
13 THE REGISTRAR: It is case IT-95-10-T, the
14 Prosecutor versus Goran Jelisic.
15 JUDGE JORDA: [Interpretation] Very well.
16 Thank you. Can the Prosecution please -- can we have
17 the appearances, please.
18 MR. NICE: I appear for the Prosecution, but
19 the Chamber will notice that Ms. del Ponte, the
20 Prosecutor herself, is also here today.
21 JUDGE JORDA: [Interpretation] Good morning,
22 Mr. Nice. And a special greeting to Ms. del Ponte, the
23 Prosecutor, which I see for the first time in her
24 Prosecutor robes. On behalf of all my colleagues, I
25 bid her good morning.
1 Can we have the appearances for the Defence,
3 MR. LONDROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours,
4 my name is Veselin Londrovic, a lawyer from Bijeljina.
5 My learned colleague Mr. Michael Greaves is unable to
6 attend this morning due to other official business.
7 JUDGE JORDA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
8 Very well. I wish also to say good morning to the
9 numerous guests in the public gallery. As you know, we
10 are here to conclude, at least in this Trial Chamber,
11 the trial of Goran Jelisic. You know that the
12 judgement that is going to be read out will be
13 available in both languages, I think, Mr. Fourmy, and
14 will be distributed, and as has become traditional in
15 this Tribunal, the President will provide a summary.
16 My colleagues, Judge Riad on my right and
17 Judge Rodrigues and my left, have rendered their
18 judgement unanimously.
19 I'm going to read that summary relatively
20 slowly so that the interpreters can carry out their
21 task properly.
22 As you know, on the 19th of October, this
23 year, the Trial Chamber acquitted Goran Jelisic of the
24 crime of genocide but found him guilty of violations of
25 the laws or customs of war and of crimes against
2 Today the Trial Chamber will render its
3 reasoned judgement and pass the sentence upon
4 Goran Jelisic which it has determined in respect of the
5 31 counts retained against him for murdering
6 13 persons, inflicting bodily harm upon 4 persons, and
7 stealing from various detainees.
8 Before pronouncing the sentence, the Trial
9 Chamber wishes to restate briefly the elements of this
10 case which will be set out in more detail in its
11 written judgement.
12 The Prosecutor instigated proceedings against
13 Goran Jelisic for the crimes which, for the most part,
14 he allegedly committed in early May 1992, in the
15 municipality of Brcko. Brcko is a sizeable town with a
16 population of approximately 41,000, of whom 55 per cent
17 were Muslim, situated in the north-east of
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina, on the border with the Republic of
20 On the 30th of April, 1992, two explosions
21 destroyed the bridges in Brcko spanning the Sava
22 River. These explosions, which occurred after the
23 local Serb representatives had demanded that the town
24 be split into three sectors, including one which was to
25 be exclusively Serb, may be considered as marking the
1 commencement of hostilities by the Serbian forces.
2 On the 1st of May, radio broadcasts ordered
3 the Muslim and Croat inhabitants to surrender their
4 arms. Serb forces comprised of soldiers, and
5 paramilitary and police forces were deployed within the
6 town. Serbian troops, paramilitary and police troops,
7 which according to testimony heard from the Trial
8 Chamber were not from Brcko, criss-crossed the town.
9 The Serbian offensive targeted the non-Serb population
10 of Brcko. Neighbourhood by neighbourhood, the
11 inhabitants were directed to collection centres where
12 the Serbs were separated from the Muslims and the
14 The Muslim and Croatian women, children, and
15 men over 60 were first evacuated from Brcko. The
16 Muslim and Croatian men between 16 and 60 were held in
17 collection centres. Some Muslims were led off to the
18 Brcko police station. Finally, on about the 7th of
19 May, nearly all the Muslims and some Croats too were
20 transferred by bus or lorry to the Luka camp. Several
21 women were also taken to the camp.
22 Luka camp was a former port facility
23 consisting of a series of warehouses located on one
24 side of a narrow road cutting through the camp and
25 administrative buildings on the other side of the
1 road. The detainees were incarcerated in the first two
2 warehouses whilst interrogations were conducted in the
3 first office in the administrative building.
4 According to testimony heard by the Trial
5 Chamber, hundreds of persons were detained at Luka camp
6 in May 1992 in inhumane and degrading living
7 conditions, although far from all the detainees
8 suffered the fate Goran Jelisic was to reserve for some
9 of them. Many were released, and some given
10 laissez-passer once Serbian soldiers had vouched for
11 their behaviour.
12 Those who remained in detention at Luka camp
13 and survived and also some of those who were rearrested
14 after having been released, would subsequently be
15 interned at the Batkovic detention camp in July 1992,
16 and then most of them were exchanged beginning in
17 October of that year.
18 It was at the Brcko police headquarters and
19 the Luka camp that Goran Jelisic committed his crimes
20 in the month of May 1992.
21 The Trial Chamber has little information on
22 the life of Goran Jelisic. He was born on the 7th of
23 June, 1968, in Bijeljina. He arrived in Brcko around
24 the 1st of May, 1992. Prior to the events, he had
25 never been convicted for violent acts, and it appears
1 that he worked as a farm mechanic.
2 At the time of the events, he was wearing
3 clothes which allowed him to pass as a policeman.
4 However, the Trial Chamber has not heard any further
5 information indicating that he may have belonged to a
6 police, military, or paramilitary structure. At Luka
7 camp, it appears that people obeyed him, but here again
8 information is lacking. Others could also clearly come
9 and go in the camp as they pleased and attack the
11 For the murder of numerous detainees and for
12 cruelly mistreating detainees at Luka camp and from
13 stealing from detainees, Goran Jelisic was charged by
14 the Prosecutor with genocide, violations of the laws or
15 customs of war, and crimes against humanity. He was
16 arrested on the 22nd of January, 1998, subsequent to a
17 warrant of arrest issued by the Tribunal. He was
18 immediately transferred to the Tribunal's Detention
19 Unit here in The Hague. After several procedural
20 matters had been settled, which are referred to in the
21 judgement, Goran Jelisic pleaded guilty to the charges
22 of war crimes and crimes against humanity but not
23 guilty to the charge of genocide.
24 In view of the elements presented when Goran
25 Jelisic pleaded guilty to war crimes and crimes against
1 humanity, and in view of the testimony submitted by the
2 witnesses of the Prosecution and of the Defence on the
3 character of the accused, how are the crimes committed
4 by Goran Jelisic to be evaluated and what sentence is
5 called for?
6 The Trial Chamber wishes to state clearly
7 that the circumstances under which the acts ascribed to
8 the accused were committed make the crimes appear
9 especially abject and revolting.
10 Goran Jelisic acted violently towards the
11 detainees. For no apparent reason he punched them,
12 kicked them, and beat them with truncheons, clubs, and
13 other instruments without consideration for the
14 person's sex or vulnerability. Above all, Goran
15 Jelisic is guilty of murdering thirteen people whom he
16 executed in cold blood.
17 Five of these murders were perpetrated near
18 the Brcko police station and always in an identical
19 manner. After being interrogated, the victims were led
20 by Goran Jelisic into an alley near the station and
21 then he proceeded to execute them, generally with two
22 bullets to the back of the neck fired from the Scorpion
23 pistol fitted with a silencer.
24 The other eight murders ascribed to him were
25 committed in Luka camp. Here again, the murders were
1 perpetrated in the same way. The victims were first
2 subjected to interrogations conducted or participated
3 in by Goran Jelisic and then beaten with truncheons and
4 clubs. Next, armed with a Scorpion pistol, Goran
5 Jelisic made them go outside and led them to the corner
6 of the buildings where the victims were then executed
7 point-blank with one or two bullets to the back of the
8 neck or the back. Some of them were forced to kneel on
9 a grate and then killed with one or two bullets to the
10 back of the head. One Croatian detainee had his ear
11 cut off before being shot. The bodies were then taken
12 behind the buildings by the detainees, of course those
13 who survived, thrown into the river or crammed into
14 refrigerated lorries before being put into mass
16 Witnesses declared that Goran Jelisic took
17 pleasure from his position, one which gave him a
18 feeling of power, of holding power over life or death
19 over the detainees and of acting as he pleased, and
20 that he even took a certain pride in the number of
21 victims that he had executed. Thus, Goran Jelisic
22 allegedly proclaimed to the Luka camp detainees that
23 before being able to have his coffee every morning he
24 needed to execute 20 to 30 persons. He also allegedly
25 said to a detainee after one execution on the 15th of
1 May that it had been his eighty-third "case".
2 Whatever the exact number of his victims, the
3 crimes of Goran Jelisic formed part of the armed
4 operation carried out by the Serb forces against the
5 Muslim population of Brcko. This offensive displays a
6 certain degree of organisation. The rounding-up of the
7 population at different points in the town, their
8 subsequent transfer to detention centres, the
9 interrogations, the violence and the murders, always
10 perpetrated in an identical manner over a brief period
11 of time, demonstrate the widespread or systematic
12 nature of the attack against the civilian population of
14 The Trial Chamber considered that the guilty
15 plea of Goran Jelisic in respect of war crimes and
16 crimes against humanity was entered under conditions
17 allowing this plea to be accepted and Goran Jelisic
18 found guilty of the crimes.
19 Notwithstanding this, the Prosecutor also
20 included the crime of genocide in the indictment. For
21 the crime of genocide to be proved, the Trial Chamber
22 must be convinced beyond all reasonable doubt either
23 that an act of genocide was perpetrated in which Goran
24 Jelisic may have been an agent or that he himself
25 committed such an act.
1 Admittedly, through his behaviour and the
2 statements which witnesses claim he made, in particular
3 those expressing a profound contempt for the Muslim
4 population, Goran Jelisic presents the external signs
5 of a perpetrator of genocide within the widely-accepted
6 meaning of the term. The first time he stood before
7 this very Trial Chamber, Goran Jelisic even introduced
8 himself using the name Adolf. He allegedly presented
9 himself to the Luka camp detainees as "the Serbian
10 Adolf" and allegedly claimed to have gone to Brcko to
11 kill Muslims. He made scornful and discriminatory
12 remarks; he humiliated his victims and regularly
13 insulted them by calling them "balijas," a particularly
14 degrading insult for members of the Muslim community.
15 But how is this conduct to be interpreted
16 legally? Is it discriminatory conduct as in the case
17 of persecution, for instance? Or are the words and
18 deeds of Goran Jelisic to be interpreted as a
19 consistent desire to destroy a group as such or at
20 least in part? Was he acting under orders or on his
21 own initiative?
22 In fact, his attitude essentially reveals
23 behaviour which, in addition to being unquestionably
24 odious and discriminatory, was opportunistic and
1 Although lists of names and persons appear to
2 have been compiled, the Trial Chamber knows neither by
3 whom nor to what end. No element submitted during the
4 trial allowed the chain of command within which Goran
5 Jelisic operated to be identified or proved whether he
6 was obeying orders in committing his crimes. It
7 appears from the elements presented to the Trial
8 Chamber that the Prosecutor has not proved beyond all
9 reasonable doubt that all inclusive genocide was
10 committed in Brcko or elsewhere in May 1992 - even in
11 the hypothetical case considered by the Trial Chamber
12 in which the issue of whether an act of genocide can be
13 perpetrated within a geographical area limited to a
14 region or a municipality is raised.
15 The Trial Chamber intends to dispel any
16 ambiguity in this respect. The Trial Chamber is not
17 stating that there was no genocide in Brcko in May 1992
18 but merely noting that the elements presented do not
19 allow it to conclude that such all-inclusive genocide
20 was committed.
21 Furthermore, it has not been established that
22 to carry out the executions Goran Jelisic relied on the
23 aforesaid lists. The witnesses called by the
24 Prosecutor stated that Goran Jelisic, if not
25 exclusively so, also killed randomly. Moreover, on his
1 own initiative and sometimes against all logic, he
2 issued laissez-passer to certain detainees, most
3 notably to a well-known figure in the Muslim
5 Finally, in addition to pointing to his
6 opportunistic nature, psychiatric experts have
7 portrayed Goran Jelisic as having a disturbed
8 personality presenting borderline, antisocial,
9 narcissistic characteristics marked in particular by a
10 certain immaturity and a hunger for recognition.
11 In this instance, the Trial Chamber is of the
12 opinion that the acts of Goran Jelisic are not the
13 expressions of a person with the conscious intention to
14 destroy a group as such. The Trial Chamber recalls
15 that discriminatory intent does not equate to genocidal
16 intent -- a peculiar intent which renders genocide
17 special and distinguishes it from other crimes of
18 international humanitarian law and in particular the
19 crime of persecution, which is also covered by our
21 The Prosecution has therefore also failed to
22 establish that Goran Jelisic committed these acts with
23 the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
24 ethnic, racial, or religious group as such.
25 Consequently, the Trial Chamber could only
1 find Goran Jelisic not guilty of the crime of
3 Now we will deal with the part which deals
4 with the plea of guilty and the sentence, the sentence
5 which the Judges have set, and for this part, I will
6 turn to Goran Jelisic and ask him to rise to hear the
7 Trial Chamber's verdict.
8 Mr. Goran Jelisic, you have heard the reasons
9 for which the Trial Chamber acquits you of Count 1:
10 Genocide, but finds you guilty on thirty-one counts:
11 for violations of the laws or customs of war, Counts 4,
12 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 30, 32, 36, 38, 40,
13 and 44; and declares you guilty as well for crimes
14 against humanity, Counts 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19,
15 21, 23, 31, 33, 37, 39, and 41.
16 On this basis, in determining its sentences
17 merited by all your crimes, the Trial Chamber has taken
18 into account all the elements provided by the
19 Prosecution and your Defence counsel and all the
20 elements of the case.
21 The Trial Chamber has inter alia taken into
22 consideration as mitigating circumstances your age at
23 the moment of the crime (you were 23 years old); the
24 fact that you were never convicted for a violent crime,
25 and that you are the father of a small child and,
1 lastly, but to a much lesser extend, explained in the
2 decision, your guilty plea.
3 However, Goran Jelisic, the Trial Chamber
4 must emphasise the repugnant, bestial, and sadistic
5 nature of your behaviour. The Trial Chamber considers
6 that your scornful attitude towards your victims, your
7 enthusiasm, if not to say your pleasure, in committing
8 the crimes, the inhumanity of the crimes and your
9 dangerous nature evidenced by your actions, in the case
10 in point, constitute especially aggravating
11 circumstances which far outweigh the mitigating
13 The crimes which you, Goran Jelisic, have
14 committed shock the conscience of mankind. The Trial
15 Chamber is convinced that those persons who survived
16 and their close relatives carry with them the
17 immeasurable suffering and for an indeterminate time,
18 the memory of those sinister events.
19 Beyond your case, and I turn to the public
20 gallery, I also say, we would like to say, that
21 although one of the missions of the International
22 Criminal Tribunal is to contribute to the restoration
23 of peace in the former Yugoslavia, but to do so the
24 identification, prosecution, and punishment of the
25 principal political and military officials responsible
1 for the atrocities committed since 1991 in the
2 territories concerned must be a priority. However,
3 where need be, it should be recalled that although the
4 crimes perpetrated during armed conflicts may be more
5 specifically ascribed to one or other of these
6 officials, these high-ranking officials, they could not
7 achieve their ends without the enthusiastic help or
8 contribution, direct or indirect, of individuals such
9 as you, Goran Jelisic.
10 The Trial Chamber convicts you, Goran
11 Jelisic, because you are:
12 Guilty of stealing money from persons
13 detained at Luka camp, in particular, Hasib Begic,
14 Zejcir Osmic, Enes Zukic, and Armin Drapic.
15 It convicts you because you were guilty of
16 causing bodily harm to the Osmic brothers, Zejcir and
17 Resad; guilty of causing bodily harm to Muhamed Bukvic;
18 guilty of causing bodily harm to Amir Didic. It
19 convicts you because it considers and that you are
20 guilty of murdering an unidentified male -- we will
21 never know; he himself did not know. It was a man.
22 Guilty of murdering Hasan Jasarevic; guilty of
23 murdering a young man from Sinteraj; guilty of
24 murdering Ahmet Hodzic (or Hadzic) alias Papa; guilty
25 of murdering a person with the first name Suad; guilty
1 of murdering Jasminko Cumurovic alias Jasce; guilty of
2 murdering the brothers Huso and Smajil Zahirovic;
3 guilty of murdering Naza Bukvic; guilty of murdering
4 Muharem Ahmetovic; guilty of murdering Stipo
5 Glavocevic; guilty of murdering Novalija; and, lastly,
6 guilty of murdering Adnan Kucalovic.
7 Consequently, for all these crimes, for all
8 your crimes, the Trial Chamber sentences you, Goran
9 Jelisic, to 40 years in prison.
10 The court stands adjourned.
11 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
12 11.35 a.m.