Monday, July 20, 2009

Two More Convictions from the ICTY

From a press release from the United Nations:

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today convicted two Bosnian Serb cousins of war crimes, including the burning alive of scores of Muslim women, children and elderly men, an act the court said ranks among “the worst acts of inhumanity that a person may inflict upon others.”

Milan Lukić was sentenced to life in prison, having been found guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of murder, extermination, cruel treatment, inhumane acts and war crimes.  He was found responsible for the murders in 1992 of 59 Muslim women, children and elderly men by barricading them in one room of a house in the town of Višegrad, in south-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a carpet had been treated with an accelerant and an explosive device was exploded, setting the house on fire.  According to evidence presented to the ICTY, victims were shot as they tried to escape the flames through the windows.  In another fire for which the defendant was found guilty, at least 60 Muslims were burned alive at a house in Bikavac, where all exits had been blocked by heavy furniture to prevent people from fleeing.  Mr. Lukić was also found guilty today of killing seven Muslim men at the Varda factory in Višegrad, with evidence showing that he collected them from their workplaces and shot them on the banks of the Drina River in full view of others, including the wife and daughter of one of the victims. The trial chamber convicted him of beating Muslim detainees at the Uzamnica detention camp between August 1991 and October 1994.

His cousin, Sredoje Lukić, a former police officer in Višegrad, was sentenced by the ICTY to 30 years in prison for his roles in the house fires in Višegrad and Bikavac as well as in the beatings of inmates at Uzamnica.

The trial of the two cousins, both members of a paramilitary group, began last July, with Milan having been arrested in Argentina in August 2005 after evading justice for seven years. Sredoje surrendered to the Bosnian Serb authorities the following month.

Since its establishment in 1993, the ICTY has indicted 161 people for war crimes. Proceedings against 120 people have been completed, with only two indictees still on the run – Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. The so-called “completion strategy” of the ICTY requires it to finish trials of first instance by 2009, and then start downsizing in 2010, and earlier this month, the Security Council extended the term of office of eight permanent judges and 10 ad litem, or temporary, judges until 31 December 2010, or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned. In addition, the Council decided, on the request of the President of the ICTY, that the Secretary-General may appoint additional temporary judges to complete existing trials or conduct additional trials.

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