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The Hague, 20 July 2007
Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić to be tried jointly at the ICTY
The Tribunal's Referral Bench today rendered a decision revoking the referral of Sredoje Lukić's case to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This means that the cases of Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić will be tried jointly at the ICTY. The Referral Bench considered that this was in the interest of justice, as the two cases are factually very closely related. It also noted the Prosecution's argument that separate trials would have risked increasing the trauma for witnesses, who would have had to testify twice.
The Referral Bench had originally on 5 April 2007 issued a decision referring the case of Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Milan Lukić, however, appealed that decision, and his appeal was last week granted by the Tribunal's Appeals Chamber, on the grounds that the gravity of crimes charged, in combination with the level of responsibility, demands that he be tried before the Tribunal. The Appeals Chamber considered that the Security Council had intended for the Tribunal to try at least some paramilitary leaders, and based on the allegations in the indictment, Milan Lukić would be perhaps the most significant paramilitary leader tried by the Tribunal to date.
Sredoje Lukić's transfer to Bosnia and Herzegovina had been suspended pending the outcome of Milan Lukić's appeal. In its 11 July decision, the Appeals Chamber held that in light of the fact that Milan Lukić would be tried at the Tribunal, it would be open to the Referral Bench to reconsider its decision relating to Sredoje Lukić. The Referral Bench issued today's decision revoking Sredoje Lukić's referral after his defence, the Prosecution, and the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina had all agreed that the two cases should be tried together.
According to the indictment, Milan Lukić was the leader of the "White Eagles" or "Avengers", a group of local Bosnian Serb paramilitaries in Višegrad, south-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina which worked with local police and military units in exacting a reign of terror upon the local Bosnian Muslim population during the 1992-1995 conflict. Sredoje Lukić, Milan Lukić's cousin, was a member of the unit.
Milan and Sredoje Lukić are charged with multiple crimes, including murdering approximately 70 Bosnian Muslim women, children and elderly men in a house on Pionirska Street in Višegrad by barricading the victims in one room of the house, setting the house on fire and then firing automatic weapons at those people who tried to escape through the windows, killing some and injuring others.
In addition, they are charged with murdering approximately 70 Bosnian Muslim women, children and elderly in a house in the village of Bikavac, near Višegrad, by forcing the victims into the house, barricading all the exits and throwing in several explosive devices.
Milan and Sredoje Lukić are also accused of beating Bosnian Muslim men who were detained in the detention camp at the Uzamnica military barracks in Višegrad.
Milan Lukić is separately charged with several other counts of murder, according to which he on multiple occasions led groups of Bosnian Muslim men to the bank of Drina river near Višegrad where he murdered them. He is also charged with brutally murdering a Bosnian Muslim woman in the Potok neighbourhood of Višegrad.
Milan and Sredoje Lukić were initially indicted together with Mitar Vasiljević. He was tried at the Tribunal and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment by a final judgement on 25 February 2004.
The Tribunal has to date referred a total of 8 cases involving 13 persons to courts in the former Yugoslavia, mostly to Bosnia and Herzegovina. No further cases are under consideration by the Referral Bench.
The full text of the Decision is available on the Tribunal's website.
Courtroom proceedings can be followed on the Tribunal's website www.un.org/icty.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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