Press Release . Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 24 June 2005
Tomorrow, Saturday 25 June 2005, The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Republika Srpska and the Tribunal's Outreach Programme will hold a conference in Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina, entitled "ICTY Cases in Relation to War Crimes Committed in Prijedor".
The investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the crimes in and around the municipality of Prijedor, including the camps of Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje, has been a major part of the Tribunal's work. Twelve persons have been found guilty for the part they played in the crimes and a further five persons are at the appeal, trial or pre-trial stage. In addition, Ratko
Mladić, Radovan Karadžić and Stojan Župljanin, who are still at large, have also been charged with crimes committed in this area.
The goal of the conference is to provide those most affected by the crimes, the local community, with a detailed and comprehensive picture of the Tribunal's activities in relation to the serious violations of international humanitarian law that were committed in the area of Prijedor. The audience will comprise members of victims' associations, municipal authorities, judicial
institutions and law enforcement agencies, as well as local politicians and civil society representatives.
Making extensive use of photographs and video footage from trial proceedings, representatives from the Tribunal will provide an insight into the meticulous and painstaking investigations conducted by the Tribunal and explain how the crimes and the responsibility of the perpetrators were proven beyond reasonable doubt before the court.
The conference will focus on six cases in which final judgements have been rendered in relation to the events that took place in the camps of Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje and elsewhere in the Prijedor municipality following its takeover in late April 1992. The camps operated for the next three months and held thousands of non-Serbs. The mistreatment in the camps was constant and
widespread. Detainees at the camp suffered brutal, inhumane and degrading conditions during their confinement, and in addition to humiliation, harassment, physical and psychological abuse, many were also killed.
In the first ever trial before the ICTY, Duško Tadić, President of the local Serb Democratic Party, was found guilty of the forced transfer of civilians to detention camps and of murder and was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. Duško Sikirica, Damir Došen and Dragan Kolundžija held positions within the Keraterm camp. During their trial they decided to plead guilty to
persecutions as a crime against humanity. Accordingly, Sikirica, in his position of authority as camp commander was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, while Došen and Kolundžija were sentenced to five and three years respectively.
Zoran Žigić, Mlađo Radić, Miroslav Kvočka, Milojica Kos and Dragoljub Prcać were all found guilty of crimes committed in the Omarska camp from May to August 1992. During this period more than 3,334 detainees passed through the camp. Many would not leave the camp alive. They were sentenced to 25, 20, seven, six and five years' respectively. The Court found it proven beyond
reasonable doubt that "the non-Serb victims imprisoned in Omarska camp were denied their fundamental rights to life, liberty, property, and bodily and mental integrity". Žigić was also held responsible for crimes committed in the Keraterm and Trnopolje camps.
On 2 October 2002, Biljana Plavšić pleaded guilty to one count of persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds, a crime against humanity and was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment. Plavšić recognized her criminal responsibility for killings, cruel and inhumane treatment, unlawful detention and the destruction of religious sites in a number of locations, including
Darko Mrđa also entered a guilty plea to one case of murder and another of attempted murder in connection with the killing of more than 200 non-Serb men from Prijedor on 21 August 1992 in Kori~anske Stijene. He was sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment. Finally, Predrag Banović, a guard at Keraterm camp, entered a guilty plea and acknowledged his responsibility for participating in
five murders and the beatings of 27 other victims. For these crimes he was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment.
The case of Milomir Stakić, sentenced by the Trial Chamber to life imprisonment for crimes committed in the Prijedor region, is currently at the appeal stage.
The conference is the fifth in a series entitled "Bridging the Gap Between the ICTY and Communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina" in which the Tribunal deals directly with the immediate communities most affected by the crimes at the heart of ICTY cases. Previous events have been held in Brčko, Foča, Konjic and Srebrenica.
This series of events is generously supported by the "Neighbourhood Programme" of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
CD ROM's provided to conference attendees are available in Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian (BCS) and English upon request to the Outreach Programme. Similar CD ROM's are also available from the Brčko, Foča, Konjic and Srebrenica events.
The ICTY Outreach Programme is a United Nations Trust Fund generously supported by voluntary contributions provided by the European Commission.