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Dragan Zelenović sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment

Press Release
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)

The Hague, 4 April 2007

Dragan Zelenović sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment

Trial Chamber I today sentenced Dragan Zelenović, a former Bosnian Serb soldier and military policeman, to 15 years’ imprisonment for rape and torture of Bosnian Muslim women from the Foča municipality in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Zelenović was transferred to the ICTY on 10 June 2006 and pleaded guilty on 17 January 2007. He admitted guilt to seven charges of torture and rape against a number of Bosnian Muslim women and girls following the take-over of Foča by Serb forces in April 1992. These women were tortured and raped while being held in several locations throughout Foča during a period between July and October 1992.

The crimes to which Zelenović pleaded guilty were part of a pattern of sexual assaults that took place over a period of several months, and in many different locations, and involved multiple victims. Zelenović took direct part in the sexual abuse of victims in a number of detention facilities.

Zelenović was found guilty of personally committing nine rapes, eight of which were qualified as both torture and rape. He was found guilty of two instances of rape through co-perpetratorship, one of which was qualified as both torture and rape, and one instance of torture and rape through aiding and abetting. Four of the rapes he took part in were gang rapes, together with three or more other perpetrators. In one of those instances he participated as aider and abettor in the gang rape of Witness 75 by at least ten soldiers, which was so violent that the victim lost consciousness.

In its summary of the sentencing judgment, the Trial Chamber determined that the scale of the crimes was large and Zelenović’s participation substantial. The summary further states that, “The victims at the detention centres in Foča suffered the unspeakable pain, indignity, and humiliation of being repeatedly violated, without knowing whether they would survive the ordeal. The scars left by the sexual assaults were deep and will perhaps never heal. This, perhaps more than anything, speaks about the gravity of the crimes in this case.

The Trial Chamber considered several mitigating circumstances, though emphasized that, “such circumstances do not in any way diminish the gravity of the crime”. These mitigating circumstances include Zelenović’s admission of his guilt and his commitment to co-operate with the Prosecution, including giving evidence in court.

The full text of the summary of the judgement can be found at the following link:

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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