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The Hague, 25 January 2000
Mitar Vasiljevic detained by SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) welcomes the detention of Mitar Vasiljevic by elements of SFOR on Tuesday 25 January 2000.
Mitar Vasiljevic, in an indictment that was confirmed and sealed on 26 October 1998, has been charged on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility with seven counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of violations of the laws or customs of war for his alleged participation in the mass murder, torture and other cruel treatment of the Bosnian Muslim population, including women, children and the elderly, in and around the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad, between May 1992 and October 1994.
According to the indictment, Mitar Vasiljevic was born on 25 August 1954, in the village of Djurevici, in the municipality of Visegrad. Before the war, he worked as a waiter at the Hotel Panos in Visegrad. After the war started, Vasiljevic joined the so-called ‘White Eagles’ paramilitary unit.
Mitar Vasiljevic is charged with:
-Extermination, as a crime against humanity for the murder of “a significant number of Bosnian Muslim civilians, including women, children and the elderly”.
-He is additionally charged with murder, inhumane acts and violence to life and person as counts of crimes against humanity and counts of violations of the laws or customs of war for his direct involvement in the mass murder of approximately 135 Bosnian Muslim civilians by locking them inside two houses and setting them on fire. In one of the incidents, 46 members of one family were killed.
In one of these incidents the indictment charges that,
“Mitar Vasiljevic and another member of the paramilitary unit locked and barricaded the people in the house to prevent their escape. Later, as Mitar Vasiljevic stood behind him the other member of the paramilitary unit opened the door, placed an incendiary device floor and lit the fuse. Within seconds, the entire house was engulfed in flames and it continued to burn for the next hour.
Some people tried to jump out of the windows, but the other member of the paramilitary unit stood outside shooting at them while Mitar Vasiljevic shined a light on the victims.
The cries and screams of the people in the house could be heard for approximately two hours after the fire began. All but six of the people locked in the house were killed. The victims either died in the fire or were shot trying to escape. Among the victims were several young children and babies,”
-Persecution, as a crime against humanity for,
a) “the murder of dozens of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians;
b) the cruel and inhumane treatment…including severe beatings over an extended period of time of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians;
c) the unlawful detention or confinement of Bosnian Muslim and other non-Serb civilians under inhumane conditions;
d) the harassment, humiliation, terrorisation and psychological abuse of Bosnian Muslim and other non-Serb civilians; and
e) the theft and destruction of personal property of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians.”
-Finally, Vasiljevic is charged with the murder of five Bosnian Muslim men on the banks of the River Drina.
A time and date for initial appearance, at which he will enter a plea to the charges against him, will be set in due course.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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