Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 9569

1 Wednesday, 12 December 2007

2 [Judgement]

3 [Open session]

4 [The accused entered court]

5 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.

6 JUDGE ROBINSON: I'm going to ask the registrar to call the case.

7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours, good morning to

8 everyone in the courtroom. This is case number IT-98-29/1-T, the

9 Prosecutor versus Dragomir Milosevic.

10 JUDGE ROBINSON: And I will ask for the appearances.

11 MR. WAESPI: Good morning, Mr. President, Your Honours. For the

12 Prosecution Jasmina Bosnjakovic, Carolyn Edgerton, Maxine Marcus,

13 Manoj Sachdeva, John Docherty and I'm Stefan Waespi.

14 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you. And for the Defence.

15 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours.

16 Branislav Tapuskovic and co-counsel Branislava Isailovic. Thank you.

17 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you, Mr. Tapuskovic.

18 Today the Chamber delivers its Judgement in this case in

19 accordance with the Tribunal practice, I will render a summary of the

20 Judgement.

21 This case is about the siege of Sarajevo. The evidence discloses

22 an horrific tale of the encirclement and entrapment of a city over a

23 period of approximately 15 months, and its bombardment by the forces of

24 the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, also known as the SRK, under the command of

25 General Dragomir Milosevic, the accused. In many places, the SRK

Page 9570

1 positions overlooked the positions of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina,

2 the ABiH, thus providing the SRK with strategic points around the city.

3 The evidence shows that during that 15-month period, the SRK, from

4 commanding positions on the hills of Sarajevo, carried out a campaign of

5 sniping and shelling that resulted in injury to and death of a great

6 number of civilians in the city of Sarajevo.

7 The accused has been charged with war crimes and crimes against

8 humanity.

9 The Prosecution led evidence that Dragomir Milosevic, as commander

10 of the SRK, carried out a campaign of shelling and sniping of civilians,

11 civilian areas, and the civilian population of Sarajevo. This campaign

12 was conducted by Bosnian Serb forces, comprising or attached to the SRK,

13 or affiliated with the Armed Forces of the Republika Srpska. It alleged

14 that the attacks were deliberate, were indiscriminate, excessive, and

15 disproportionate in relation to the anticipated concrete and direct

16 military advantage. Further, according to the Prosecution, the alleged

17 campaign had the primary purpose of spreading terror, within the civilian

18 population of Sarajevo.

19 The main Defence arguments were that during the entire conflict in

20 Bosnia and Herzegovina, the area of Sarajevo and its environs was the

21 theatre of serious conflict and heavy fighting. Accordingly the Defence

22 argued that Sarajevo as a whole, and certain neighbourhoods of the city,

23 could not be considered a civilian area. The existence of an armed

24 conflict was also central to the Defence case; it argued that the

25 intensity of the conflict showed that the activities of the SRK were a

Page 9571

1 necessary and legitimate response to activities of the ABiH, and did not,

2 as argued by the Prosecution, constitute a deliberate attack against the

3 civilian population. The Defence also argued that many deaths and

4 injuries during the conflict resulted directly from the high level of

5 intensity of combat activities.

6 The Trial Chamber finds that the evidence that was led in three

7 scheduled incidents was insufficient to establish that the origin of fire

8 was SRK-held territory. The remaining scheduled incidents were all

9 proven.

10 The Trial Chamber, after reviewing the evidence, rejects the

11 Defence submission on the status of Sarajevo and the reasons for this

12 decision are set out in the Judgement.

13 The SRK used a number of means to effect its campaign. It

14 employed highly skilled and trained snipers using rifles with telescopic

15 sights; it used mortars to shell the city and perhaps the worst feature of

16 the campaign was the use of modified air bombs; worst, because the bombs

17 were inaccurate and served no military purpose. The SRK targeted the city

18 with indiscriminate shelling.

19 The evidence shows that the ABiH did not have or use modified air

20 bombs; only the SRK possessed and used them. Of the 15 scheduled shelling

21 incidents, 11 involved the use of these modified air bombs. The effect of

22 the modified air bombs was overwhelming, in terms of injuries, deaths,

23 destruction, and the psychological impact on the civilian population. To

24 give an example, referring to a modified air bomb exploded in Sokolovici,

25 W-82 stated that, and here I quote, "They could have coped with the

Page 9572

1 sniping and shelling of the neighbourhood until the air bomb landed on the

2 23rd of July, 1995."

3 Now, while the evidence shows that there were lulls in fighting

4 between the armies and in the shelling of the city, it also shows that

5 there was a constant level of sniping. In this respect, a witness, John

6 Jordan, recalled that in nice weather and here I quote, "People came out,

7 made it a target-rich environment and the snipers got busy."

8 The very role of snipers requires that any shot they take is

9 deliberate, intended to kill or seriously injure the target.

10 I cite again John Jordan who said he responded to a number of

11 incidents over the years in Sarajevo where one member, often the youngest

12 member of a family was shot. It was his view that, here I quote, "When

13 you're targeting civilians like this, particularly families, who may or

14 may not be Muslim, shooting the child has the effect of literally

15 disembowelling the whole family."

16 The Trial Chamber admitted into evidence video footage, depicting

17 a slowly moving UNPROFOR armoured personnel carrier sheltering people

18 behind it from sniper fire. When shown to witness Martin Bell, he

19 remarked that this was one of the iconic images of war and he said: "The

20 French were trying to bring confidence to the people and a degree of

21 security down there ... They instituted this idea of the slowly moving

22 armoured vehicle with the people sheltering. And I think it conveys

23 probably more than any single sniping incident the daily perils of the

24 people in the city."

25 As part of the 12 scheduled sniping incidents, the Trial Chamber

Page 9573

1 heard evidence pertaining to five incidents in which trams were targeted

2 and several passengers killed or seriously injured by SRK snipers. In

3 addition to these five, the Trial Chamber heard of other incidents

4 involving the sniping of trams. All these incidents took place during

5 cease-fires. There are passages in evidence that clearly demonstrate the

6 sheer fear and horror experienced by those passengers. And nothing

7 illustrates more graphically the intent of the perpetrators and the

8 victimisation of the passengers than the evidence that was repeated time

9 and again of a tram slowing down to pass the S-curve in the vicinity of

10 the Holiday Inn and being deliberately targeted while it was so doing.

11 Slavica Livnjak described how she would bend her head every time she

12 negotiated the S-curve with her tram. The tram and its passengers were

13 virtually sitting ducks, or, to use another avian metaphor, in the words

14 of a witness, "clay pigeons."

15 Shelling with mortars was a common occurrence too and caused many

16 deaths and injuries among the civilian population in the city of Sarajevo.

17 Of all of incidents in the campaign of shelling, the mortar attack on the

18 Markale market on the 28th of August, 1995, is one of the most horrendous.

19 This event is etched in the memory of many of the witnesses who appeared

20 before the Trial Chamber and the Chamber found that the Markale market was

21 shelled by the SRK, with a 120-millimetre mortar, killing 34 civilians,

22 and wounding 78. One of the police officers who investigated the incident

23 described what he saw as, and here I quote, "The last, deepest circle of

24 Dante's hell."

25 The main argument of the Defence in relation to the Markale market

Page 9574

1 shelling was that this was a staged event; an explosion caused by a static

2 explosive and not a 120-millimetre mortar. This submission, as well as

3 the other Defence arguments relating to this event, is rejected and the

4 reasons are set out in the Judgement.

5 As described by many witnesses, there was no safe place in

6 Sarajevo; one could be killed or injured anywhere and anytime. W-107

7 stated that her daughters often returned from collecting water or

8 firewood, and here I quote, "I would find that they had soiled their

9 clothes because of the fear that they had." On one occasion,

10 Rijalda Musaefendic saw that the bread that was delivered had bullets in

11 it, resulting from the truck being fired on by Bosnian Serbs.

12 Bakir Nakas described the situation as follows, here I quote:

13 "The city was still under siege, no electricity, no regular water

14 supply, no regular energy supply, under shelling and sniping continually.

15 Life was not normal in any way for the residents of Sarajevo, nor was our

16 work, the work of health workers in the city's health institutions.

17 Likewise, we lacked all energy supplies, electricity, and our supplies

18 were reduced, limited, in terms of medical supplies, food and such-like."

19 This constant threat to their safety had a profound effect on the

20 civilians in the city of Sarajevo. Colonel Demurenko, the Chief of Staff

21 of UNPROFOR Sector Sarajevo from January 1995 to December 1995, testified

22 that, here I quote, "If one looks at the human suffering, then it was a

23 case of a full siege, just like in Leningrad, during the Second World

24 War."

25 He expressed his surprise at what he called the ambivalent

Page 9575

1 attitude, blunted attitude towards life, and the prevalent atmosphere of

2 lethargy in Sarajevo. Witness Martin Bell explained that, and here I

3 quote:

4 "The civilians inside the confrontation lines looked haggard, they

5 looked hunted. Their only business of the day was to get through the

6 day, to survive. Survival was what it was about. They were truly

7 desperate times."

8 Dragomir Milosevic, the commander of the SRK, held a tight chain

9 of command. He ensured that he was kept abreast of the activities of his

10 units by improving an already existing reporting system. He decided on

11 matters such as the replenishment of ammunition, the placement of mortars,

12 and the training of snipers. Also, he regularly visited the SRK units

13 along the confrontation lines.

14 It was under his command that modified air bombs were introduced

15 to the Sarajevo theatre, and they were regularly used to shell the city.

16 Several orders show that Dragomir Milosevic decided on the deployment and

17 placement of the bomb launchers too. Moreover, the evidence shows that

18 Dragomir Milosevic ordered the shelling by way of modified air bombs. One

19 need only refer to the order of 6th of April, 1995, in which he ordered

20 the Ilidza Brigade to, here I quote, "immediately prepare a launcher with

21 an aerial bomb and transport the bomb for launching. ... The most

22 profitable target must be selected in Hrasnica or Sokolovic Kolonija,

23 where the greatest casualties and material damage would be inflicted."

24 The next day, a modified air bomb hit Hrasnica, killing

25 Ziba Custovic, injuring three civilians and causing massive destruction to

Page 9576

1 the civilian neighbourhood in which it exploded.

2 The Trial Chamber considers that the accused's position as

3 commander of the SRK obligated him to prevent the commission of crimes and

4 to ensure that the troops under his command conducted themselves with

5 respect for international humanitarian law. But the evidence presented to

6 the Chamber shows that the accused abused his position and that he,

7 through his orders, planned and ordered gross and systematic violations of

8 international humanitarian law. Moreover, the accused made regular use of

9 a highly inaccurate weapon with great explosive power: The modified air

10 bomb. And it is clear from the evidence that the SRK well knew that these

11 weapons were indiscriminate and inaccurate. The modified air bombs could

12 only be directed at a general area, making it impossible to predict where

13 they would strike. Each time a modified air bomb was launched, the

14 accused was playing with the lives of the civilians in Sarajevo.

15 This Judgement, like most Judgements in this Tribunal, illustrates

16 the need for full respect by those engaged in armed conflict for the

17 fundamental norms of international humanitarian law. These norms have

18 developed over the centuries to the point that they now constitute binding

19 legal obligations. Foremost among the norms is that which requires the

20 protection of persons not taking an active part in hostilities, that is,

21 civilians. These norms, in turn, are based on values that are fundamental

22 for every human being, namely the integrity of the individual, the right

23 to life and the right to be protected from fear, pain and violence. As

24 such, they are applicable without distinction of any kind, including

25 ethnicity, nationality, and religion.

Page 9577

1 Mr. Milosevic, please stand.

2 The Trial Chamber finds you, Dragomir Milosevic, guilty pursuant

3 to Article 7(1) of the statute on the following counts:

4 Count 1, terror, a violation of the laws or customs of war;

5 Count 2, murder, a crime against humanity;

6 Count 3, inhumane acts, a crime against humanity;

7 Count 5, murder, a crime against humanity;

8 Count 6, inhumane acts, a crime against humanity;

9 The finding of guilt on counts 1 has the consequence that counts 4

10 and 7, unlawful attacks against civilians, a violation of the laws or

11 customs of war, are dismissed. The Trial Chamber sentences you,

12 Dragomir Milosevic, to a sentence of 33 years imprisonment. Pursuant to

13 Rule 101(C), you're entitled to credit for time spent in detention.

14 You're also entitled to credit for such additional time you may serve

15 pending the determination of any appeal. And pursuant to Rule 103(C) you

16 will remain in the custody of the Tribunal pending finalisation of

17 arrangements for your transfer to the state where you will serve your

18 sentence.

19 The Chamber emphasises that this is but a summary of its findings

20 and that the only authoritative account is the written Judgement, which

21 will be made available after this hearing.

22 The hearing is now adjourned.

23 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 9.28 a.m.