1 Wednesday, 23 February 2011
3 [Open session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.16 p.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: The Chamber is sitting today to deliver judgement
7 in the trial of the accused, Vlastimir Djordjevic.
8 For the purposes of this hearing, the Chamber will summarise
9 briefly its findings, emphasising that this is a summary only and that
10 the only authoritative account of the Chamber's findings and its reasons
11 for those findings is to be found in the written judgement, copies of
12 which will be made available to the parties at the conclusion of this
14 The accused, Vlastimir Djordjevic, is charged for his involvement
15 in crimes committed by Serbian forces, especially army, the VJ, and
16 police, the MUP, against Kosovo Albanians in Kosovo in 1999, principally
17 between March and June 1999.
18 In particular, it is alleged in the indictment that Serbian
19 forces systematically shelled towns and villages, burned homes and farms,
20 murdered over 800 Kosovo Albanian men, women, and children, damaged and
21 destroyed Kosovo Albanian cultural and religious institutions, and
22 sexually assaulted Kosovo Albanian women. It is further alleged that
23 this conduct resulted in the deportation from Kosovo of approximately
24 800.000 Kosovo Albanians.
25 These allegations support the five charges in the indictment of
1 crimes against humanity and war crimes. These charges are for the crimes
2 of deportation, forcible transfer, two counts of murder, one being
3 charged as a war crime and the other as a crime against humanity, and
5 At the time of the events alleged in the indictment, the accused
6 held the office of assistant Minister of Internal Affairs of Serbia. I
7 will refer to the Ministry of Internal Affairs as the MUP, or the
9 Within the ministry, he was the chief of the public security
10 department, the RJB, which may be likened to the position in many
11 countries of chief of the police force. He held the rank of
12 Colonel-General, which was the highest rank within the MUP. It is
13 alleged that, as chief of the public security department, he commanded
14 and exercised effective control over, in particular, the
15 Special Police Units, PJP, and of the Special Anti-terrorist Unit, SAJ,
16 and of the police force, regular and reserve police, as well as volunteer
17 groups and other units operating in concert with the police.
18 The accused is charged under Article 7(1) of the Statute of the
19 Tribunal with planning, instigating, ordering, and otherwise aiding and
20 abetting the alleged crimes.
21 The accused is also charged under Article 7(1) with committing
22 these five crimes by participating in a joint criminal enterprise, a JCE,
23 the purpose of which is alleged to have been to change the ethnic balance
24 in Kosovo so that Kosovo Albanians were no longer in the majority in
25 order to ensure continued Serbian control in Kosovo.
1 It is also alleged in the indictment that the accused is liable
2 under Article 7(3) of the Statute for failing to prevent the offences
3 committed by police under his command and for failing to ensure the
4 offenders were punished for the offences they committed.
5 The accused was initially indicted in 2003, together with army
6 General Nebojsa Pavkovic, army General Vladimir Lazarevic, and
7 police General Sreten Lukic. This case was subsequently joined with the
8 similar case against Milan Milutinovic, the president of Serbia,
9 Nikola Sainovic, the deputy prime minister of the Federal Republic of
10 Yugoslavia, FRY, and army General Dragoljub Ojdanic. The trial of these
11 six other persons commenced in 2006, but the case against the accused was
12 delayed because he was still at large. Eventually, he was arrested on
13 the 17th of June, 2007, in Montenegro, and was transferred to The Hague.
14 He pleaded not guilty to all counts in the indictment and has had
15 to be tried separately from the others. His trial commenced on the
16 27th of January, 2009. It has been a lengthy and complex case. The
17 Chamber has heard over 140 witnesses and has admitted in evidence over
18 2.500 exhibits, including many orders and reports of the MUP and the VJ,
19 and records of meetings of the Serbian political, police and military
21 For the Tribunal to have power to deal with the crimes charged
22 against the accused, it must be proved by the Prosecution that an armed
23 conflict existed in Kosovo at the time. And for crimes against humanity,
24 that the crimes charged were committed in the context of a widespread or
25 systematic attack against a civilian population. For reasons set out in
1 the written judgement, the Chamber is satisfied that by the end of
2 May 1998 an armed conflict existed in Kosovo between Serbian forces, in
3 particular forces of the VJ and the MUP, and the force usually referred
4 to as the Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA. This armed conflict continued
5 until at least June 1999.
6 In addition, on 24 March 1999, NATO commenced military operations
7 in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, so that the Chamber is also
8 satisfied that from 24 March 1999, until the end of hostilities in
9 June 1999, an international armed conflict existed in Kosovo between
10 Serbian forces and the forces of NATO.
11 Having considered, in particular, the scale of destruction and
12 damage to Kosovo Albanian civilian property, the loss of civilian lives,
13 and the displacement of Kosovo Albanians in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, the
14 Chamber is satisfied that the offences charged took place in the context
15 of an armed conflict in which there was a widespread and systematic
16 attack against the civilian Kosovo Albanian population.
17 Hence, the preliminary requirements of Article 3, war crimes, and
18 Article 5, crimes against humanity, of the Statute have thus been proved.
19 As discussed in detail in Chapter VI of the judgement, beginning
20 relevantly on 24 March 1999, a consistent pattern of events occurred in
21 many towns, villages, and other locations throughout Kosovo. By way of
22 typical example, in the early morning hours, VJ and MUP forces would
23 approach a village, town, or other location. The VJ, using tanks
24 armoured vehicles and other heavy weapons, would shell the residential
25 area, causing the Kosovo Albanian population to flee from their homes.
1 Serbian forces, in most cases police, would then enter the area on foot,
2 typically setting houses on fire and looting valuables. In some cases,
3 following these events, VJ and MUP forces then ordered the whole
4 population to leave, sometimes physically harming individuals and looting
5 people's valuables.
6 In many of these locations, after the initial shelling by the VJ,
7 Serbian forces, in several cases specifically identified as forces of the
8 MUP, then approached the residents and typically separated the men from
9 the women and young children, ordered the women and children to leave to
10 go to Albania, and then killed all the men, usually having first divided
11 them into smaller groups and taken each group to an isolated location.
12 Many residents and displaced persons who witnessed heavy property
13 destruction and damage, as well as killings by Serbian forces, by their
14 own decision left their town, village, or city in large numbers out of
15 fear for their lives and welfare. Serbian forces coordinated the process
16 by directing the mass movements of Kosovo Albanian residents away from
17 their towns and villages, often organising road or rail transport, and in
18 most cases ensuring that the people reached and crossed the border,
19 mostly into Albania or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
20 Massive columns or convoys of Kosovo Albanian people moving to Albania or
21 to Macedonia formed throughout Kosovo and eventually crossed the border
22 out of Kosovo. Some Kosovo Albanians even crossed the border into
24 It was the Defence contention that there were many reasons why
25 people left Kosovo at the time, including the state of war between the
1 FRY and NATO, the NATO bombing, fighting between the KLA and Serbian
2 forces, sanctions and wartime conditions, evacuations and deliberate
3 population movements directed by the KLA. It was also contended that the
4 non-Albanian population of Kosovo was also leaving Kosovo at a comparable
6 In determining whether the offences of deportation or forcible
7 transfer have been established, the Chamber has relied on the evidence
8 establishing the circumstances in which people left towns, villages, and
9 cities in the 13 municipalities listed in the indictment. From this
10 evidence, the Chamber is satisfied that the offences of deportation or
11 forcible transfer have been established with respect to some 60 specific
12 locations, which are listed in the written judgement.
13 With respect to each of these locations for which the offences of
14 forcible transfer or deportation have been established, the evidence does
15 not reveal that people were leaving because of NATO bombing or because of
16 fighting between the Serbian forces and the KLA or because of hardship
17 caused by sanctions or wartime conditions, as the Defence has contended.
18 On the contrary, the evidence discloses, as discussed in detail
19 in the judgement, that the Kosovo Albanian people left Kosovo because
20 they were specifically ordered to do so by Serbian forces or because the
21 conduct of Serbian forces caused them to leave, in particular by
22 shelling, shooting, killing, and by burning houses and other buildings in
23 their villages, towns, and cities.
24 While factors such as NATO bombing and fighting between the
25 Serbian forces and the KLA may have caused some concern in the minds of
1 some Kosovo Albanians, the factor which was dominant and compelling in
2 causing Kosovo Albanians to leave their homes, and in many cases causing
3 them to leave Kosovo, was the deliberate campaign of violence and terror
4 conducted against Kosovo Albanian civilians by Serbian forces.
5 In this respect, it is significant that in most cases
6 identification documents and vehicle licence plates were seized from the
7 Kosovo Albanians before they crossed the border out of Kosovo. This
8 seizure was by Serbian police and VJ. Had this displacement of
9 Kosovo Albanians been the consequence of NATO bombing or of fighting
10 between the KLA and Serbian forces, or the like, it is not apparent why
11 Kosovo Albanian refugees would be stripped of their identification
13 Telling, in this respect, is the evidence of
14 General Karol John Drewienkiewicz and Colonel Richard Ciaglinski, two
15 British officers, who observed MUP officers burning tens of thousands of
16 identification documents in a courtyard adjacent to the MUP building in
17 Pristina/Prishtine on 12 and 13 June 1999, which is just before the
18 cessation of hostilities in Kosovo and when Serbian forces were about to
19 leave Kosovo.
20 As indicated, the Chamber is satisfied that the offences of
21 deportation and forcible transfer have been established with respect to
22 some 60 locations listed in the written judgement. These were spread
23 over 13 municipalities charged in the indictment.
24 While over 800.000 Kosovo Albanians left Kosovo in the period
25 relevant to the indictment, this trial is only concerned with those from
1 the villages, towns, and other locations specified in the indictment.
2 The evidence is not sufficient to enable reliable findings as to the
3 numbers of Kosovo Albanians proved to have been deported from these
4 specific locations to Albania and Macedonia, or in some cases to
5 Montenegro, between the 24th of March, 1999, and the 20th of June, 1999.
6 It can be concluded from the evidence that this number was at least
7 200.000. However, this estimate is incomplete and very conservative, and
8 the true figure is likely to be very much higher.
9 The indictment also alleges the criminal responsibility of
10 Vlastimir Djordjevic for the murder of hundreds of Kosovo Albanians,
11 including 840 persons known by name and specifically listed in the
12 schedules of the indictment.
13 The Chamber is satisfied that the charges of murder as alleged in
14 the indictment have been proved with respect to the many locations in
15 Kosovo specified in the judgement. In particular, the Chamber has found
16 that not less than 724 Kosovo Albanians were murdered by Serbian forces,
17 in most cases police. In the large majority of cases, the victims,
18 including women and children, were civilians, who were unarmed and not in
19 any way participating in any form of armed conflict.
20 I would emphasise that this trial is not concerned with members
21 of the KLA killed in combat with Serbian forces. However, some of those
22 murdered may have been members of the KLA, but when killed, they were
23 prisoners of the Serbian forces, unarmed, and unable to participate in
24 any form of armed conflict. No attempt was made to identify or arrest
25 individuals for the purpose of investigation or trial as terrorists or
1 suspected terrorists.
2 The Chamber notes also that it is clear from the evidence that
3 the murder offences charged in the indictment are merely examples, and by
4 no means exhaustive, of the crimes committed by Serbian forces,
5 especially police, against the Kosovo Albanian population in the course
6 of the widespread and systematic attack referred to.
7 By way of three examples, on the 26th of March 1999,
8 approximately 114 men and boys, the male inhabitants of a village in the
9 Orahovac/Rahovec municipality were forced by police into a barn in the
10 village. One of the men was disabled; his wheelchair was used by the
11 police to block an entrance door. When all the men and boys were inside
12 the barn, the police shot them with automatic rifles. The police then
13 poured incendiary liquid over the bodies, placed maize on top of them,
14 and set the barn on fire.
15 As another example, not less than 45 members of one family were
16 killed in Suva Reka/Suhareke town by police on 26th of March, 1999. Some
17 were killed at their homes. An elderly couple were shot as they tried to
18 flee from the houses. Then, 35 members of the family, mainly women and
19 young children, sought refuge in a nearby cafe. Police threw hand
20 grenades inside the cafe and then opened fire on them, killing 32 women
21 and children.
22 In another town, Podujevo/Podujeve, in the courtyard of their
23 house, Serbian forces lined up and shot 19 women and children, members of
24 two families. Of these, 14 women and children were killed. While five
25 of the children survived the incident, they sustained severe injuries,
1 many of them permanent.
2 These examples demonstrate that the conduct was not part of a
3 genuine police operation to locate and arrest terrorists.
4 As detailed in the written judgement, the Chamber is also
5 satisfied that the crimes of forcible transfer, deportation and murder
6 established in the judgement were committed with the intent to
7 discriminate against the Kosovo Albanian population in Kosovo --
8 [B/C/S on English channel]
9 JUDGE PARKER: -- on the basis of their ethnicity.
10 We have a technical problem. It's now been restored. We
12 The Chamber is also satisfied that the offence of persecutions by
13 the deliberate destruction of mosques by Serbian forces has been
14 established. The destruction of these mosques occurred pursuant to a
15 campaign by Serbian forces which included the systematic damage and
16 destruction of cultural monuments and Muslim sacred sites of the
17 Kosovo Albanian population.
18 While the Chamber has found that incidents of sexual assault have
19 been established, no evidence has been presented that the perpetrators
20 acted with intent to discriminate. Intent to discriminate is an
21 essential element which must be proved. Therefore, the charge of
22 persecutions committed through sexual assault has not been established.
23 The accused did not personally commit any of the crimes charged.
24 They were committed by Serbian forces, many of whom were police under his
25 command. Nevertheless, it is alleged by the Prosecution on several bases
1 that the accused is criminally responsible for the commission of the
2 crimes. In this summary, the Chamber will deal -- mention, briefly,
3 three of these bases for criminal responsibility. Joint criminal
4 enterprise, aiding and abetting the crimes, and command responsibility.
5 A primary allegation against the accused in the indictment is
6 that he participated in a joint criminal enterprise, that is, a common
7 plan, which, as noted earlier, had the alleged purpose of changing the
8 ethnic balance in Kosovo. This objective was to be achieved through
9 criminal means consisting of a widespread and systematic campaign of
10 terror and violence against Kosovo Albanians and which included the
11 crimes charged.
12 The accused denied that there was any such common plan formed by
13 a group of persons which included the accused. The Defence submits that
14 where crimes were committed in Kosovo during the indictment period, these
15 were the result of isolated incidents perpetrated by random individuals.
16 As mentioned already, it is contended that any coordinated actions by the
17 VJ and MUP in 1998 and 1999 were directed only at terrorist forces, and
18 so were legitimate under customary international law.
19 The Chamber was not able to accept these arguments. While
20 operations leading to the deaths of some Kosovo Albanians may have been
21 conducted under the guise of anti-terrorist operations, and that may have
22 been among the objectives, it is starkly clear from the evidence that
23 these operations were not limited to members of the KLA. The nature of
24 the crimes that have been established and the circumstances in which they
25 were committed clearly demonstrates that the target of this campaign was
1 the Kosovo Albanian population.
2 In the finding of the Chamber, the operations were typically
3 aimed at terrorising the Kosovo Albanian population in cities, towns, and
4 villages. This was achieved by a variety of means, including shelling of
5 populated areas with heavy weapons; terrorising the people there by
6 threats, violence, and killings; setting on fire Kosovo Albanian civilian
7 property; and the destruction of villages.
8 The civilian population, or those of it who were not killed, in
9 many cases were forced to leave their homes, villages, or towns, in most
10 cases to join others to be transported across a nearby border or to join
11 columns of displaced persons directed by Serbian forces across the
12 borders. The scale and coordination of the actions of Serb forces
13 confirms that a common plan existed. The common plan required the
14 agreement and participation of political leaders of the FRY and Serbia,
15 the leadership of the VJ, including the relevant corps in Kosovo, and the
16 leadership of the MUP, including its staff in Kosovo. For reasons set
17 out in the written judgement, the Chamber is satisfied that persons in
18 these roles acted in unison to effect the joint criminal enterprise.
19 Among the core members of this group of persons, the political
20 component included Slobodan Milosevic, the president of the
21 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; and Nikola Sainovic, the deputy prime
22 minister of the FRY and responsible for Kosovo. The MUP membership of
23 the joint criminal enterprise included Vlajko Stojiljkovic, minister of
24 the interior; the accused, Vlastimir Djordjevic, chief of the RJB;
25 Radomir Markovic, chief of the state security department; and Sreten
1 Lukic, head of the MUP staff for Kosovo.
2 The Defence contended further that the accused could not have
3 made a significant contribution to any such common plan. The core of the
4 Defence case is built upon the evidence and submission of the accused
5 that he did not have effective control over the use of MUP forces in
6 Kosovo because the late Minister Stojiljkovic had excluded him. The
7 accused also denied that the Joint Command for Kosovo, the body which
8 coordinated Serbian forces including the police in Kosovo, existed.
9 Contrary to the Defence's position, the accused's participation
10 in the joint criminal enterprise was crucial to its success. The Chamber
11 has found that as head of the RJB and as an assistant minister of
12 interior, the accused had lawful powers and exercised effective control
13 over the police in Kosovo, including regular and reserve police, the PJP,
14 and SAJ, during the indictment period. The evidence reveals that the
15 accused had detailed knowledge of events on the ground and played a key
16 role in coordinating the work of the MUP forces in Kosovo in 1998 and
17 1999. The accused was a member of the Joint Command, which, contrary to
18 the accused's evidence, coordinated Serbian forces, including the police,
19 in Kosovo.
20 He was often present on the ground in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999,
21 and also attending meetings of the MUP staff in Kosovo. He was aware of
22 the criminal conduct of the police and other Serbian forces in Kosovo
23 from his personal observations and from information provided by others.
24 He was also aware that the Serb population in Kosovo had been armed by
25 the army and the MUP to provide an additional Serbian force.
1 Contrary to the accused's evidence that he had been excluded by
2 Minister Stojiljkovic, the accused represented the Republic of Serbia in
3 international negotiations on the role of the police in Kosovo in
4 October 1998.
5 The Defence advanced throughout the trial that there were no Serb
6 paramilitary forces in Kosovo at the material time. Despite this denial,
7 it has been established by the evidence that there were Serbian
8 paramilitary forces active in Kosovo in the indictment period, many
9 serving with police units. Further, the accused was personally and
10 directly involved in the engagement of one such unit, the Skorpions, into
11 the MUP reserve force in 1999. This unit was directly involved in the
12 shooting of 19 Kosovo Albanian women and children in one town, killing 14
13 of them. The accused was informed of these killings almost immediately
14 after they occurred. The unit was withdrawn from Kosovo but no effective
15 investigation followed. The accused was aware of the lack of
16 investigation but nonetheless authorised the redeployment of members of
17 the same unit back to Kosovo a few days later.
18 The Chamber was also satisfied that the accused was instrumental
19 in MUP efforts to conceal the murders of Kosovo Albanians during the
20 indictment period. As discussed in detail in the written judgement, the
21 evidence confirms that from the second week of April 1999, on at least
22 six occasions over a period of several weeks, trucks containing bodies of
23 Kosovo Albanians killed by Serbian forces in Kosovo arrived at the
24 13 Maj SAJ centre in Batajnica near Belgrade. This centre is controlled
25 by the MUP. It is over 400 kilometres from where the people were killed
1 in Kosovo. At least two further deliveries of bodies were made to the
2 Petrovo Selo PJP centre, another MUP site in Serbia. Bodies were also
3 recovered from Lake Perucac in Serbia and buried in a mass grave site by
4 the lake. The bodies had been in a truck which was found in the lake.
5 In 2001, the remains of 744 individuals were exhumed from the SAJ
6 centre in Batajnica, 61 from Petrovo Selo, and 84 from Lake Perucac. The
7 remains were of Kosovo Albanians who had been killed in Kosovo in 1999.
8 Despite the condition of the remains after being buried for over two
9 years, it was determined that the most probable cause of death of the
10 vast majority of these bodies was multiple gun shot wounds or was
11 consistent with gunshot wounds.
12 The accused played a leading role in the MUP efforts to conceal
13 these murders. He gave instructions for the clandestine transportation
14 of bodies found in a refrigerator truck in the Danube River to the SAJ
15 training centre at Batajnica near Belgrade and their secret reburial in a
16 mass grave at the SAJ centre. He gave instructions for the immediate
17 burial of the bodies found in Lake Perucac on the site.
18 In both cases, the accused gave specific orders to preclude
19 judicial investigations.
20 The Chamber has found that the transportation of bodies from
21 Kosovo for clandestine burial in mass graves on MUP grounds was
22 undertaken as part of a coordinated operation to remove evidence of
23 crimes committed by Serbian forces against Kosovo Albanians in Kosovo
24 during the indictment period.
25 In the Chamber's finding, this operation was conducted under the
1 direction of the accused, in consultation with Minister Stojiljkovic,
2 pursuant to an order of the president of the FRY, Slobodan Milosevic.
3 While it was his duty under the law to have the emergence of the
4 bodies properly investigated, the role the accused played ensured that
5 the bodies were not the subject of investigation at the time.
6 The Chamber is also satisfied that despite being aware of crimes
7 committed by MUP forces in Kosovo, at no time during the indictment
8 period, or thereafter while he remained the head of the RJB, did the
9 accused take any measures to ensure the investigation of the crimes or
10 the punishment of those involved in their commission.
11 The Chamber is satisfied that the accused's conduct, as described
12 in the summary of findings above, contributed significantly to the
13 campaign of terror and extreme violence by Serbian forces against
14 Kosovo Albanians, which had the purpose of changing the demographic
15 composition of Kosovo.
16 The Chamber is also satisfied that through his direct involvement
17 in the concealment of bodies of Kosovo Albanian victims of murder and his
18 complete failure to ensure the investigation of crimes committed by MUP
19 forces during the indictment period, the accused aided and abetted the
20 crimes established in the judgement. These facts are sufficiently
21 compelling to also require a conviction for aiding and abetting, as well
22 as the conviction for participating as a member of the joint criminal
23 enterprise, in order to fully encapsulate the accused's criminal conduct.
24 For reasons set out in the written judgement, the Chamber is also
25 satisfied of the accused's responsibility under Article 7(3) for his
1 failure to prevent the commission of the crimes established in this
2 judgement by persons under his effective control and for his failure to
3 punish the perpetrators of these crimes. However, by virtue of its
4 adverse finding under Article 7(1), it is not open to the Chamber to also
5 convict the accused under Article 7(3).
6 Vlastimir Djordjevic, would you please stand.
7 The Chamber finds you guilty, pursuant to Article 7(1) of the
8 Statute, of the following offences:
9 Count 1, deportation, a crime against humanity under Article 5 of
10 the Statute, for having committed the crime of deportation through your
11 participation in a joint criminal enterprise and for having aided and
12 abetted the deportation of Kosovo Albanians from the locations specified
13 in it the judgement.
14 Count 2, other inhumane acts, forcible transfer, under Article 5
15 of the Statute, for having committed the crime of forcible transfer
16 through your participation in a joint criminal enterprise and for having
17 aided and abetted the forcible transfer of Kosovo Albanians from the
18 locations specified in the judgement.
19 Count 3, murder, a crime against humanity under Article 5 of the
20 Statute, for having committed the crime of murder through your
21 participation in a joint criminal enterprise and for having aided and
22 abetted the murder of not less than 724 Kosovo Albanians identified in
23 the schedule to this judgement.
24 Count 4, murder, a violation of the laws or customs of war, under
25 Article 3 of the Statute, for having committed the crime of murder
1 through your participation in a joint criminal enterprise and for having
2 aided and abetted the murder of not less than 724 Kosovo Albanians,
3 taking no active part in the hostilities identified in the schedule to
4 this judgement.
5 Count 5, persecutions, on racial grounds, a crime against
6 humanity, under Article 5 of the Statute, for having committed the crime
7 of persecutions through your participation in a joint criminal enterprise
8 and for having aided and abetted the persecutions against
9 Kosovo Albanians through deportation, forcible transfer, murder, and
10 destruction or damage to property of cultural and religious significance
11 to Kosovo Albanians at locations specified in this judgement.
12 With respect to sentence, the Chamber has set out in the written
13 judgement the many matters that have been taken into account in
14 determining the appropriate sentence.
15 You are sentenced to a single sentence of 27 years' imprisonment.
16 Full credit will be given for the time you spent in custody. You will
17 remain in the custody of the Tribunal pending the finalisation of
18 arrangements for your transfer to the state where you will serve your
20 You may sit down.
21 That concludes this trial.
22 The Chamber will now adjourn.
23 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 3.06 p.m.