1 Monday, 20 July 2009
3 [Open session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 3.30 p.m.
6 JUDGE ROBINSON: Today the Trial Chamber delivers its judgement
7 in the trial of Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic. What follows is a summary
8 of the Trial Chamber's findings. It is only a summary. The
9 authoritative account is the written judgement, which will be made
10 available after this hearing.
11 This case concerns events that took place in the municipality of
12 Visegrad, and the town of the same name, in Bosnia and Herzegovina
13 between the 7th of June, 1992, and the 10th of October, 1994. The
14 municipality is located in the south-eastern region of Bosnia, close to
15 the border of the Republic of Serbia on its eastern side. In April 1992,
16 following acts of violence against the Muslim population in the
17 municipality, the Yugoslav People's Army, or the JNA, entered Visegrad.
18 It eventually withdrew on the 19th of May, 1992, having established Serb
19 control over the town and the municipality.
20 Following the JNA's departure, attacks on the non-Serb
21 population, including murders, disappearances, rapes, beatings, and
22 destruction of non-Serb property, increased. These attacks were carried
23 out by paramilitary groups that operated in Visegrad with the complicity
24 or acquiescence of the Serb authorities. The number of arbitrary
25 killings and disappearances peaked in May and June 1992.
1 It was within this context that Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic,
2 both from the village of Rujiste, near Visegrad, allegedly committed the
3 crimes with which they are charged.
4 Milan Lukic has been charged with committing or aiding and
5 abetting persecution, murder, extermination, cruel treatment, and
6 inhumane acts as crimes against humanity and war crimes in relation to
7 six discrete incidents.
8 The incidents are, 1, the killing of five Muslim civilian men at
9 the Drina River on or about the 7th of June, 1992; two, the killing of
10 seven Muslim civilian men at the Varda factory in Visegrad on or about
11 the 10th of June, 1992; and three, the events leading up to and including
12 burning alive of approximately 70 Muslim civilians in Adem Omeragic's
13 house on Pionirska Street in Visegrad on or about the 14th of June, 1992;
14 fourth, the burning alive of approximately 70 Muslim civilians in
15 Meho Aljic's house in Bikavac, also in Visegrad, on or about the 27th of
16 June, 1992; fifth, the killing of Hajra Koric, a Muslim civilian, on or
17 about June 1992; and six, the beating of Muslim detainees at the Uzamnica
18 detention camp between August 1992 and October 1994.
19 Sredoje Lukic has been charged with committing or aiding and
20 abetting the crimes of persecution, murder, extermination, cruel
21 treatment, and inhumane acts as crimes against humanity and war crimes in
22 relation to three of the above six incidents: Namely, the burning alive
23 of approximately 70 persons in Adem Omeragic's house; secondly, the
24 burning alive of approximately 70 Muslim civilians in Meho Aljic's house;
25 and three, the beating of Muslim detainees at the Uzamnica detention
2 In relation to the Drina River incident, the evidence shows that
3 Milan Lukic collected seven Muslim men on the 7th of June, 1992, and
4 eventually drove them to the Drina River near Sase, where he lined them
5 up at the river's edge. Milan Lukic ignored the victims' pleas for their
6 lives and told the soldiers with him to shoot the men with single shots.
7 He and the soldiers then shot the men in the back, killing some of them
8 instantly, and then returning to fire additional shots into those bodies
9 they thought to be still alive. Five men perished. Only VG014 and
10 VG032, both of whom testified before the Trial Chamber, survived by
11 pretending they were dead.
12 With regard to the Varda factory incident, the evidence shows
13 that on about the 10th of June, Milan Lukic entered the Varda factory and
14 collected seven Muslim men from their workstations. He thereafter took
15 them down to the bank of the Drina River in front of the factory, where
16 he lined them up. Milan Lukic then shot the men in full view of a number
17 of people watching, including the wife and daughter of one of the
18 victims, Ibrisim Memisevic. All seven men were killed.
19 Considerable evidence was received concerning the
20 Pionirska Street incident. The evidence shows that a group of 70 Muslim
21 civilians, most of whom came from the village of Koritnik, and included
22 many members of the Kurspahic family, were taken by a group of armed
23 Serbs to Jusuf Memic's house on Pionirska Street, where they were robbed
24 at gunpoint. Women and some children were then strip-searched, after
25 which a number of women were taken away, stating upon being brought back
1 to the house that they had been raped. Later in the evening the group of
2 victims was transferred to the nearby house of Adem Omeragic, where they
3 were locked into a ground-floor room. And the evidence shows that the
4 carpet of the room had been prepared with an accelerant. After a while,
5 a lighted, explosive device was placed in the room which ignited an
6 intense fire when it exploded. As the victims tried to escape the flames
7 through the two windows of the room, they were shot at by the armed men
8 outside the house. Other explosive devices were also thrown into the
9 room. Witnesses VG078 and VG101, who were hiding close by, could hear
10 shots coming from Adem Omeragic's house. VG101 said to VG078:
11 "These people are killing our mother, our mother-in-law, and our
12 brother's two children. They didn't do anything wrong."
13 Only a handful of people survived, and all of those still alive
14 came to testify before the Trial Chamber. However, 59 people were burned
16 The Milan Lukic Defence challenged the very occurrence of the
17 fire in Adem Omeragic's house through a number of experts who visited the
18 site in January 2009. The Trial Chamber has endorsed the view of the
19 experts that the longer a crime scene investigation is delayed, the less
20 reliable the conclusions that can be drawn.
21 Under cross-examination by the Prosecution, the experts qualified
22 their conclusions to such an extent as to render their overall findings
23 practically without foundation, including agreeing that a fire could have
24 taken place and that an incendiary device exploded in Adem Omeragic's
25 house. Consequently, the Trial Chamber has placed little weight on their
2 On the basis of the acceptance by the Vasiljevic Trial Chamber of
3 Mitar Vasiljevic's alibi in relation to the Pionirska Street incident,
4 the Milan Lukic Defence also challenged the credibility of a number of
5 Prosecution witnesses who recalled seeing Mitar Vasiljevic there. On the
6 evidence presented in this case, the Trial Chamber by majority,
7 Judge Robinson dissenting, has found that Mitar Vasiljevic was, in fact,
8 present on Pionirska Street, during the robbery in Jusuf Memic's house,
9 and during the transfer to and burning of Adem Omeragic's house.
10 The evidence shows that Milan Lukic was inside Jusuf Memic's
11 house and that he robbed the victims of their valuables. He was present
12 and armed when the strip-searchs were being carried out. He also
13 participated in removing a number of women from the house who,
14 reportedly, were raped. Milan Lukic participated in the transfer of the
15 victims to Adem Omeragic's house, and the evidence shows that it was he
16 who closed the door once the group was inside the room. The
17 Trial Chamber has also found that it was Milan Lukic who placed the
18 explosive device in the room, thereby setting the house ablaze.
19 Furthermore, the Trial Chamber found that he shot at the windows of the
20 house and that he shot at and wounded VG013 as she escaped.
21 The evidence shows that Sredoje Lukic, a police officer in
22 Visegrad, was also present and armed at Jusuf Memic's house, including
23 while the robbery and strip-searchs were taking place inside and when the
24 women were removed. The Trial Chamber has found that he was also present
25 during the transfer to Adem Omeragic's house. However, while the
1 Trial Chamber has concluded that there is no reliable evidence that
2 Sredoje Lukic set Adem Omeragic's house on fire or shot at the windows as
3 people tried to escape, it has, Judge Robinson dissenting, found that by
4 his presence and by being armed, Sredoje Lukic substantially contributed
5 to the deaths of the 59 people trapped in the house. The Trial Chamber
6 has found that Sredoje Lukic aided and abetted in the cruel treatment and
7 inhumane acts committed against them.
8 The other incident charged in which Muslim civilians were burned
9 alive occurred at Meho Aljic's house in Bikavac. Zehra Turjacanin
10 testified in relation to this incident. She presented a sad, tragic, but
11 heroic figure. Permanently disabled as a result of this event and
12 scarred for life, she has broken all ties with her former homeland. Her
13 evidence, as well as the evidence of other witnesses, shows that
14 Milan Lukic and other armed men forced a group of approximately 70 Muslim
15 civilians into Meho Aljic's house, locking them inside. All the exits
16 had been blocked by heavy furniture and a garage door was also placed
17 against the door to prevent escape. Gun-shots were fired at the house
18 and grenades were thrown inside, setting the house on fire. Witnesses
19 VG058 and VG035 vividly remembered the terrible screams of the people in
20 the house, "like the screams of cats." The Trial Chamber has found that
21 at least 60 Muslim civilians were burned alive.
22 The Milan Lukic Defence also challenged the occurrence of the
23 Bikavac fire through its experts. For the reasons mentioned earlier, the
24 Trial Chamber has placed little weight on this evidence in relation to
25 the Bikavac fire. It has placed no weight on the evidence of the Defence
1 psychological expert George Hough, who provided views on the evidence of
2 Zehra Turjacanin, the sole survivor of the incident, without having had
3 any contact with her. The Defence also challenged the credibility of
4 Zehra Turjacanin because in the period immediately following her escape
5 from the fire she gave various accounts to Serb soldiers and a doctor of
6 how she received her horrific burns. The Trial Chamber has found that
7 Zehra Turjacanin is a witness of truth. Her differing accounts do not
8 cast doubt on her evidence.
9 The Trial Chamber is satisfied that Milan Lukic was present and
10 armed throughout the incident. He used the butt of his rifle to push
11 people in the house, saying, "Come on, let's get as many people inside as
12 possible." After the victims were locked inside he shot at the house,
13 threw grenades into it, and subsequently set it on fire using petrol.
14 However, with respect to Sredoje Lukic's presence during the incident,
15 the Trial Chamber by majority, Judge David dissenting, has found that
16 Zehra Turjacanin's evidence is inconclusive. And the Chamber, by
17 majority, Judge David dissenting, is not satisfied that Sredoje Lukic was
18 present at the Bikavac incident.
19 In respect of the killing of Hajra Koric, the evidence shows that
20 Milan Lukic searched for Hajra Koric among a group of women and children
21 who were fleeing. Once he found her, he singled her out and shot her at
22 point-blank range. He was laughing when he turned her body over with his
23 foot and shot her in the back.
24 In relation to the Uzamnica camp, the evidence shows that both
25 Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic were opportunistic visitors to the camp,
1 although Sredoje Lukic came to the camp less frequently than Milan Lukic.
2 When at the camp, both Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic severely and
3 repeatedly kicked and beat the detainees with their fists, with
4 truncheons, with sticks, and rifle-butts. Several victims testified
5 before the Trial Chamber about these brutal beatings and the grave
6 injuries and permanent injuries they sustained and the suffering they
8 Milan Lukic presented alibis for the Drina River, the Varda
9 factory, Pionirska Street, Bikavac, and the Uzamnica camp incidents. The
10 Drina River and Varda factory alibi is that Milan Lukic was in Belgrade
11 and Novi Pazar, in Serbia, from the 7th to the 10th of June, 1992. The
12 Trial Chamber has found that the alibi suffers from a number of glaring
13 inconsistencies, and has held that the evidence of two key witnesses,
14 MLD1 and MLD10 is lacking in credibility. MLD10 also testified in
15 support of the alibi for the Bikavac incident, that at the end of
16 June, 1992, Milan Lukic was in Rujiste for three or four days. Also in
17 this respect the Trial Chamber has found MLD10's evidence to be wholly
18 unreliable, and particularly damaging to MLD10's credibility overall was
19 the credible and reliable evidence of Hamdija Vilic that MLD10 received
20 payment in exchange for false testimony.
21 Milan Lukic's alibi for the Pionirska Street incident is that on
22 the 13th to the 15th of June, 1992, he was deployed as a reserve
23 policeman in Kopito. The Trial Chamber has found that the evidence of
24 witnesses who are fundamental to the alibi as a whole, notably MLD4,
25 MLD7, and Goran Djeric, exhibit discrepancies on matters central to the
1 alibi. The Trial Chamber has also found MLD4's and Goran Djeric's
2 evidence to be unreliable.
3 There was little evidence advanced in support of the alibi for
4 the Uzamnica detention camp charges, according to which Milan Lukic was
5 imprisoned for some of the relevant time. The Trial Chamber has found
6 that Milan Lukic's imprisonment for some time in the spring of 1993 and
7 possibly 1994 has no bearing on the evidence showing that he beat the
8 detainees because it does not correspond to the same time-period.
9 Sredoje Lukic presented alibis for the Pionirska Street and
10 Bikavac incidents. In light of its majority finding that the Prosecution
11 has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that Sredoje Lukic was present at
12 the Bikavac incident, the Trial Chamber has not made any findings in
13 relation to the alibi for the Bikavac incident.
14 In relation to the alibi for the Pionirska Street incident, which
15 is that Sredoje Lukic met Veroljub Zivkovic and Branimir Bugarski in
16 Obrenovac, Serbia, in the evening of the 14th of June, 1992, the
17 Trial Chamber has found that aspects of the evidence presented are
18 implausible and that the evidence of Zivkovic, a key witness, is neither
19 credible nor reliable.
20 For each incident where an alibi has been presented, the
21 Trial Chamber has considered the evidence as a whole, that is, the
22 evidence led by the Prosecution and the evidence led by the Defence, and
23 found that the alibi is not reasonably possibly true. In particular, the
24 Chamber has rejected the alibi for the Drina River and Varda factory
25 incidents as a cynical and callously-orchestrated artifice. The Chamber
1 has concluded that the Prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the
2 relevant charges.
3 A very large body of evidence was presented of other crimes that
4 were committed in Visegrad during the indictment period, including
5 specific instances of murders, rapes, and beatings, some of which were
6 allegedly committed by Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic. A significant
7 proportion of this evidence, including several incidents of rape, was
8 presented by the Prosecution for the purpose of rebutting the alibis
9 presented. As Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic have not been charged with
10 any crimes arising out of these incidents, the Trial Chamber has not made
11 any determination of guilt in relation to them.
12 The perpetration by Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic of crimes in
13 this case is characterised by a callous and vicious disregard for human
14 life. The Chamber has found that Milan Lukic personally killed at least
15 132 Muslim people. In early June 1992 and within a matter of days,
16 Milan Lukic summarily executed 12 Muslim men at the Drina River with
17 indifference and deliberateness. He carried out the cold-blooded murder
18 of Hajra Koric, in a flippant and cavalier manner. As opportunistic
19 visitors to the Uzamnica camp, both Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic came
20 for no other reason than to inflict violence on the detainees. Although
21 Sredoje Lukic came to the camp with less frequency than Milan Lukic, both
22 accused beat the detainees with extraordinary brutality, causing them
23 serious and permanent damage.
24 The Trial Chamber has found that Milan Lukic played a dominant
25 role in both the Pionirska Street and Bikavac incidents, in which
1 respectively 59 people and at least 60 people burned alive. While
2 Sredoje Lukic did not himself set Adem Omeragic's house on fire, he knew
3 what would happen to the victims that he helped to herd into
4 Adem Omeragic's house.
5 In the Trial Chamber's view, the Pionirska Street fire and the
6 Bikavac fire exemplify the worst acts of inhumanity that one person may
7 inflict upon others. In the all too long, sad, and wretched history of
8 man's inhumanity to man, the Pionirska Street and Bikavac fires must rank
9 high. At the close of the twentieth century, a century marked by war and
10 bloodshed on a colossal scale, these horrific events stand out for the
11 viciousness of the incendiary attack, for the obvious premeditation and
12 calculation that defined it, for the sheer callousness and brutality of
13 herding, trapping, and locking the victims in the two houses, thereby
14 rendering them helpless in the ensuing inferno, and for the degree of
15 pain and suffering inflicted on the victims as they were burnt alive.
16 There is a unique cruelty in expunging all traces of the individual
17 victims which must heighten the gravity ascribed to these crimes.
18 Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic are alleged to have committed the
19 crime of persecution through a number of underlying acts. The
20 Trial Chamber has found that Milan Lukic acted with discriminatory intent
21 when committing the underlying acts charged. It has also found that
22 Sredoje Lukic acted with discriminatory intent when aiding and abetting
23 the underlying acts charged. Judge Robinson dissents from the
24 Trial Chamber's finding insofar as the underlying acts pertain to the
25 transfer of the approximately 70 Muslim civilians to Adem Omeragic's
1 house and their detention and murder in that house during the
2 Pionirska Street incident.
3 The Trial Chamber finds Milan Lukic guilty pursuant to
4 Article 7(1) of the Statute of committing: Persecutions, a crime against
5 humanity, Count 1; murder, a crime against humanity, Count 2; murder, a
6 violation of the laws and customs of war, Count 3; inhumane acts, a crime
7 against humanity, Count 4; cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and
8 customs of war, Count 5; murder, a crime against humanity, Count 6;
9 murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war, Count 7; murder, a
10 violation of the laws and customs of war, Count 10; inhumane acts, a
11 crime against humanity, Count 11; cruel treatment, a violation of the
12 laws and customs of war, Count 12; murder, a violation of the laws and
13 customs of war, Count 15; inhumane acts, a crime against humanity, Count
14 16; cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and customs of war, Count
15 17; murder, a crime against humanity, Count 18; murder, a violation of
16 the laws and customs of war, Count 19; inhumane acts, a crime against
17 humanity, Count 20; and cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and
18 customs of war, Count 21.
19 The Trial Chamber by majority, Judge Van Den Wyngaert dissenting,
20 finds Milan Lukic guilty pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute of
21 committing: Extermination, a crime against humanity, Count 8; and
22 extermination, a crime against humanity, Count 13.
23 The Trial Chamber sentences Milan Lukic to a term of imprisonment
24 for the remainder of his life. Pursuant to Rule 101(C), Milan Lukic is
25 entitled to credit for time spent in detention, which as of the date of
1 this judgement amounts to 1443 days, and for such additional time as he
2 may serve pending the determination of any appeal. This information is
3 provided in the event that it becomes necessary in any subsequent
4 proceedings. Pursuant to Rule 103(C), Milan Lukic will remain in the
5 custody of the Tribunal pending finalisation of arrangements for his
6 transfer to the state where he will serve his sentence.
7 The Trial Chamber by majority, Judge David dissenting, finds
8 Sredoje Lukic not guilty on the following counts: Count 8,
9 extermination, a crime against humanity; Count 13, extermination, a crime
10 against humanity; Count 14, murder, a crime against humanity; Count 15,
11 murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war; Count 16, inhumane
12 acts, a crime against humanity; Count 17, cruel treatment, a violation of
13 the laws and customs of war.
14 The Trial Chamber finds Sredoje Lukic guilty pursuant to
15 Article 7(1) of the Statute of committing: Inhumane acts, a crime
16 against humanity, Count 20; and cruel treatment, a violation of the laws
17 and customs of war, Count 21.
18 The Trial Chamber finds Sredoje Lukic guilty pursuant to Article
19 7(1) of the Statute of aiding and abetting: Persecutions, a crime
20 against humanity, Count 1; inhumane acts, a crime against humanity,
21 Count 11; cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and customs of war,
22 Count 12.
23 The Trial Chamber by majority, Judge Robinson dissenting, finds
24 Sredoje Lukic guilty pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute of aiding
25 and abetting: Murder, a crime against humanity, Count 9; murder, a
1 violation of the laws and customs of war, Count 10.
2 The Trial Chamber sentences Sredoje Lukic to a term of 30 years'
3 of imprisonment. Pursuant to Rule 101(C), Sredoje Lukic is entitled to
4 credit for time spent in detention, which as of the date of this
5 judgement amounts to 1.404 days, and for such additional time as he may
6 serve pending the determination of any appeal. Pursuant to Rule 103(C),
7 Sredoje Lukic will remain in the custody of the Tribunal pending
8 finalisation of arrangements for his transfer to the state where he will
9 serve his sentence.
10 The hearing is adjourned.
11 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4.14 p.m.