1 Tuesday, 6 September 2011
3 [Open session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 11.00 a.m.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Good morning to everybody in and around the
8 Madam Registrar -- or Mr. Registrar, I beg your pardon, will you
9 please call the case.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case
11 IT-04-81-T, the Prosecutor versus Momcilo Perisic. Thank you,
12 Your Honours.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you so much.
14 Could we have appearances for the day, starting with the
15 Prosecution, please.
16 MR. SAXON: Good morning, Your Honours. Carmela Javier,
17 Rafael La Cruz, Bronagh McKenna, April Carter, and Dan Saxon for the
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Saxon.
20 And for the Defence.
21 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. Good
22 morning to everybody in the courtroom. Mr. Perisic is represented today,
23 as was the case during the trial, by Novak Lukic and Mr. Guy-Smith as
24 counsel. And together with us we have Boris Zorko, Chad Mair,
25 Tina Drolec, and Deirdre Montgomery.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Lukic.
2 The Trial Chamber will now deliver its judgement in the case of
3 Prosecutor versus Momcilo Perisic.
4 For the purposes of this hearing, the Chamber will briefly
5 summarise its findings. I stress that this is a summary only. The
6 authoritative account of the Chamber's findings can be found in the
7 written judgement which will be made available at the end of this
9 The trial has lasted nearly three years. The Trial Chamber heard
10 over a hundred witnesses, and 3.794 exhibits are part of the trial
12 Momcilo Perisic is a retired general of the Yugoslav Army. On
13 the 26th of August, 1993, he was appointed chief of the General Staff of
14 the Yugoslav Army, a position he held until the 24th of November, 1998.
15 During that time, General Perisic was the top military officer of the
16 Yugoslav Army, headquartered in Belgrade, Serbia.
17 Under Article 7(1) of the Statute, General Perisic is charged
18 with aiding and abetting, war crimes, and crimes against humanity
19 perpetrated in Sarajevo and Srebrenica, in Bosnia, between 1993 and 1995
20 by the Army of Republika Srpska, known as the VRS.
21 The Prosecution alleges that the VRS conducted a campaign of
22 shelling and sniping against Sarajevo civilians throughout the Bosnian
23 war. It submits that General Perisic, as chief of the Yugoslavia Army,
24 knowingly aided and abetted the crimes of murder, inhumane acts, and
25 attacks on civilians in Sarajevo by providing substantial assistance to
1 the VRS. That assistance allegedly included considerable quantities of
2 weaponry, as well as the provision of salaries and other benefits to the
3 top officers of the VRS, including General Ratko Mladic, the VRS
5 Further, the Prosecution alleges that by providing logical and
6 personnel assistance, General Perisic aided and abetted the crimes of
7 murder, inhumane acts, persecutions, and extermination perpetrated by the
8 VRS during its take-over of Srebrenica in 1995.
9 In addition to aiding and abetting, General Perisic is charged
10 under Article 7(3) of the Statute with having failed to prevent crimes
11 perpetrated by his subordinates and/or punish them for their criminal
12 behaviour. The crimes in question include the previously mentioned
13 crimes in Sarajevo and Srebrenica, as well as separate crimes of murder,
14 inhuman acts, and attacks on civilians related to the shelling of Zagreb,
15 in Croatia, by the army of the Serbian Krajina, known as the SVK.
16 Before focussing on General Perisic's individual criminal
17 responsibility, the Trial Chamber will announce its findings on the
18 crimes perpetrated in Sarajevo, Srebrenica, and Zagreb.
19 The Trial Chamber has found that from September 1992 to
20 November 1995 the VRS conducted a lengthy campaign of shelling and
21 sniping in Sarajevo that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians
22 and the wounding of thousands of others. The Trial Chamber examined the
23 facts surrounding nine shelling and ten sniping incidents that occurred
24 in Sarajevo. It found that the VRS had perpetrated the crimes of murder
25 as a crime against humanity, murder as a war crime, inhumane acts as a
1 crime against humanity, and attacks on civilians as a war crime.
2 In the summer of 1995, the VRS invaded the town of Srebrenica,
3 which the United Nations Security Council had previously established as a
4 safe area for civilians. After taking over Srebrenica, the VRS proceeded
5 to forcibly remove and massacre thousands of Muslim civilians and persons
6 not taking an active part in hostilities. The Trial Chamber found that
7 the VRS committed the crimes of murder as a crime against humanity,
8 murder as a war crime, inhumane acts as a crime against humanity,
9 persecutions as a crime against humanity, and extermination as a crime
10 against humanity.
11 The Trial Chamber has determined that the SVK fired rockets on
12 the city of Zagreb on the 2nd of May, 1995, killing five people and
13 injuring 46. The SVK again fired rockets on Zagreb on the next day,
14 killing two persons and injuring 54. The Chamber found that the SVK
15 perpetrated the crimes of murder as a crime against humanity, murder as a
16 war crime, inhumane acts as a crime against humanity, and attacks on
17 civilians as a war crime.
18 Having found that crimes were committed in Sarajevo, Srebrenica,
19 and Zagreb, I will now summarise the Trial Chamber's findings on the
20 logistical and personnel assistance that General Perisic allegedly
21 provided to the VRS and SVK in conducting their operations in Bosnia and
23 The Trial Chamber found that General Perisic oversaw the
24 Yugoslav Army's provision of extensive logistical assistance to the VRS
25 and the SVK. Logistical assistance notably included vast quantities of
1 infantry and artillery ammunition, fuel, spare parts, training, and
2 technical assistance.
3 The Yugoslav Army already provided logistical assistance to these
4 armies before General Perisic became its chief in August 1993. However,
5 logistical assistance became more centralised, structured, and
6 co-ordinating during his tenure. General Perisic organised a procurement
7 procedure for the Yugoslav Army General Staff to review requests for
8 logistical assistance. He also regularly met and conferred with
9 General Mladic and General Celeketic, the VRS and SVK's respective
10 commanders, about their army's military needs.
11 General Perisic and the Yugoslav Army General Staff did not grant
12 requests for assistance, although they approved a substantial proportion
13 of them, including millions of infantry bullets and thousands of shells.
14 For instance, in 1994, the VRS Main Staff estimated that it had obtained
15 from the Yugoslav Army over 25 million infantry bullets and over 7.500
16 shells, among other ammunition.
17 The Supreme Defence Council of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
18 granted General Perisic and the Yugoslav Army the authority to provide
19 logistical assistance to the VRS and the SVK. Even though
20 General Perisic was not officially a member of the
21 Supreme Defence Council, he participated in the council's meetings, along
22 with its members, notably Slobodan Milosevic and Zoran Lilic, who then
23 respectively held the titles of president of Serbia and president of the
24 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. General Perisic regularly urged the
25 council to continue providing important logistical assistance to the VRS
1 and SVK, insisting that they could not wage war without significant
2 military support.
3 While the international community had dispatched personnel to
4 monitor the border between Yugoslavia and Bosnia for arms deliveries,
5 Serb authorities were able to evade border monitors. Sanctions by the
6 international community did not preclude the VRS and SVK from regularly
7 receiving considerable quantities of weaponry from Serbia.
8 The Trial Chamber will now turn to the personnel assistance
9 overseen by General Perisic.
10 A large number of VRS and SVK officers were drawn from the ranks
11 of the Yugoslav Army. They officially remained members of the
12 Yugoslav Army even as they were fighting in Bosnia and Croatia under the
13 banners of the VRS and the SVK. General Perisic proposed and carefully
14 implemented the idea to create "personnel centres" to regularise the
15 status of these officers and allow them to lawfully remain part of the
16 Yugoslav Army. VRS officers retained their salaries and benefits as
17 Yugoslav Army members through what was known as the 30th Personnel
18 Centre, and SVK officers through the 40th Personnel Centre. General
19 Perisic further intended the personnel centres system to help legalise
20 the deployment of additional personnel to these armies.
21 In December of 1993, General Perisic stated there were over 7.000
22 Yugoslav Army officers serving in the VRS and SVK through the personnel
23 centres. While many officers voluntarily accepted transfer,
24 General Perisic made clear that those who refused to be sent to the VRS
25 or SVK would be dismissed from the Yugoslav Army in one way or another.
1 General Perisic and other leading Yugoslav officials sought to keep the
2 real function of the personnel centres secret in order to avoid further
3 criticism or sanctions from the international community.
4 The Trial Chamber will now summarise its legal conclusions on the
5 aiding and abetting counts charged under Article 7(1).
6 The following considerations and findings are made by majority,
7 Judge Moloto dissenting. The majority finds that crimes were
8 inextricably linked to the VRS's war strategy and objectives. The VRS
9 regularly made no distinction between civilian and military targets. In
10 fact, it targeted Bosnian Muslim civilians as a matter of course. The
11 crimes charged in this case were not perpetrated by rogue soldiers acting
12 independently. Rather, they were part of a lengthy campaign overseen by
13 top VRS officers of the Yugoslav Army's payroll, including
14 General Mladic.
15 General Perisic is not charged with helping the VRS wage war
16 per se, yet, under the VRS's strategy, there was no clear distinction
17 between military warfare against Bosnian Muslim troops and attacks
18 against Muslim civilians. General Perisic repeatedly exercised his
19 authority to provide logistical and personnel assistance that made it
20 possible for the VRS to wage a war that he knew encompassed systemic
21 crimes against Muslim civilians.
22 The siege of Sarajevo and the ensuing sniping and shelling of its
23 civilians were means of implementing the Bosnian Serb objective of
24 dividing Sarajevo into Serb and Muslim sectors. Attacks against
25 civilians aimed to intimidate the population of Sarajevo and break its
1 morale and spirit, as well as to destabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina as a
3 Another Bosnian Serb objective was the establishment of a
4 corridor in the Drina valley and the elimination of the Drina river as a
5 border between Serbia and Republika Srpska. This objective was pursued
6 through criminal means, as the Bosnian Serb leadership sought to
7 eliminate Muslim enclaves in that area. Once the VRS took over the
8 Srebrenica enclave, it proceeded to forcibly remove and massacre its
9 Muslim population, perpetrating atrocities on a vast scale.
10 The VRS largely depended on logistical and personnel assistance
11 overseen by General Perisic in order to conduct its operations in
12 Sarajevo and Srebrenica. The majority finds that General Perisic's
13 actions had a substantial effect on the crimes that the VRS perpetrated,
14 because its military operations encompassed a systemic crimes against
15 civilians. Besides witness testimony, the majority relied upon numerous
16 sources of information for its conclusions, including material delivery
17 forms, personnel files, internal military reports, communication records,
18 and minutes of the Supreme Defence Council featuring discussions between
19 General Perisic, Slobodan Milosevic, Zoran Lilic, and other top
21 As stated earlier, General Perisic oversaw the Yugoslav Army's
22 comprehensive logistical assistance to the VRS. Part of this help was
23 given to VRS units involved in perpetrating the charged crimes; for
24 example, the Drina Corps, the Krajina Corps, the Sarajevo Romanija Corps.
25 Overall, logistical assistance from the Yugoslav Army was critical to the
1 VRS's operations because its resources were limited, its financial
2 situation was dire, and its ammunition reserves verged on depletion as
3 the war progressed.
4 The Bosnian Serb leadership regularly pressed General Perisic to
5 keep sending assistance, as it was well aware that its military
6 operations largely depended on Yugoslav Army support. Radovan Karadzic
7 admitted, for instance, that, and I quote, "nothing would happen without
8 Serbia. We do not have those resources and we would not be able to
9 fight." Similarly, General Mladic admitted that "we would not be able to
10 live" if assistance was discontinued. General Perisic himself stated on
11 several occasions that the VRS would have faced much greater difficulties
12 in waging war if military assistance had been withheld.
13 Slobodan Milosevic remarked that "everything that has been made there was
14 made thanks to Serbia and the army," a statement with which
15 General Perisic concurred.
16 In addition to orchestrating the logistical assistance system,
17 General Perisic assumed a lead role in establishing the
18 30th Personnel Centre to serve the needs of key VRS officers. Besides
19 General Mladic, members of the 30th Personnel Centre included
20 high-ranking officers responsible for crimes in Sarajevo and/or
21 Srebrenica, namely, Stanislav Galic, Dragomir Milosevic,
22 Milenko Zivanovic, Radislav Krstic, Vujadin Popovic, Vinko Pandurevic,
23 Milan Gvero, Ljubisa Beara, Radivoje Miletic, and Dragan Obrenovic.
24 These officers continued to receive their salaries as regular
25 Yugoslav Army members. Moreover, they retained all their rights and
1 benefits as members, receiving compensation for service under difficult
2 conditions, housing benefits, pension benefits, as well as medical
3 insurance and treatment for themselves and their families.
4 The majority finds that General Perisic aimed to help the VRS
5 retain and recruit qualified officers by providing such rights and
6 benefits as incentives to serve in the VRS. General Perisic was well
7 aware that the payment of salaries was, in his own words, of "great help"
8 to the VRS. Republika Srpska had serious difficulties with remunerating
9 VRS personnel in light of its grave financial problems.
10 Finally, the majority finds that General Perisic had knowledge
11 that the VRS's operations encompassed grave crimes against civilians.
12 General Perisic received information from a variety of sources concerning
13 the VRS's criminal behaviour and discriminatory intent against Muslims.
14 Under General Perisic's direction, the Yugoslav Army's intelligence and
15 security organs monitored views -- monitored the views of the
16 international community and international media concerning the conflict
17 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Yugoslav Army General Staff also received
18 diplomatic reports about proceedings at the United Nations
19 Security Council concerning grave abuses against civilians in Sarajevo
20 and other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
21 In particular, General Perisic was alerted to the fact that the
22 VRS was conducting a campaign of sniping and shelling against civilians
23 during its siege of Sarajevo. These regular attacks were well documented
24 and widely reported for a period of three years. General Perisic could
25 not have reasonably discounted this information simply because he and his
1 allies considered it biased against the Serbs. The fact that information
2 could, in certain instances, be biased or one-sided does not undermine
3 the finding that General Perisic had notice of the VRS's crimes in
4 Sarajevo; namely, murder, attacks on civilians, and inhumane acts.
5 With regard to the atrocities perpetrated during the take-over of
6 Srebrenica in July 1995, the majority underlines that General Perisic had
7 already been notified long before this tragedy that the VRS had a
8 propensity to target civilians. Further, he was aware of the escalating
9 tensions in the Srebrenica area and that the VRS was preparing a military
10 attack there. The majority is satisfied that General Perisic knew that
11 it was highly probable that the VRS would forcibly transfer
12 Bosnian Muslims and commit killings and other abuses with discriminatory
13 intent once Srebrenica had fallen under VRS control. In other words,
14 General Perisic knew of the likelihood that the VRS would perpetrate the
15 crimes of murder, inhumane acts, and persecutions in Srebrenica.
16 However, the Trial Chamber unanimously finds that the evidence
17 does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that General Perisic could
18 reasonably have foreseen, based on his knowledge of the VRS's prior
19 conduct, that the VRS would engage in the radical, systemic extermination
20 of thousands of Muslims in Srebrenica.
21 The Trial Chamber will now render its findings on the counts
22 charged under Article 7(3) of the Statute.
23 The Trial Chamber recalls that, besides aiding and abetting
24 crimes, General Perisic is accused of failing to prevent crimes
25 perpetrated by his subordinates and/or punish them for their criminal
2 In order for General Perisic to be culpable under this mode of
3 liability, the Trial Chamber must consider whether a superior-subordinate
4 relationship existed between General Perisic and the perpetrators,
5 including whether he exercised effective control over them. The
6 Trial Chamber underlines that mere co-operation or the mere ability to
7 exercise influence is not sufficient to establish effective control.
8 Firstly, the Chamber finds that the VRS's crimes in Sarajevo and
9 Srebrenica were perpetrated by officers who were de jure subordinated to
10 General Perisic, namely, officers who were members of the
11 30th Personnel Centre and officially remained part of the Yugoslav Army.
12 However, possession of de jure authority in the absence of an inquiry
13 into the de facto state of affairs is generally insufficient to establish
14 effective control under the applicable legal standard, which requires
15 proof of the material ability to prevent or punish the criminal behaviour
16 of subordinates.
17 The trial record neither contains evidence of command orders by
18 General Perisic to members of the 30th Personnel Centre nor evidence of
19 disciplinary or criminal proceedings initiated by Perisic against them.
20 Rather, the evidence reflects General Perisic's inability to impose
21 binding orders on General Mladic, the VRS commander, who maintained a
22 measure of independence throughout the war. Even though General Perisic
23 had a collaborative relationship with Mladic and substantially aided his
24 operations, the evidence does not establish that he exercised effective
25 control over him or any other Yugoslav Army officer serving in the VRS
1 through the 30th Personnel Centre. The evidence does not establish
2 beyond a reasonable doubt that a superior-subordinate relationship
3 existed at the relevant time between General Perisic and perpetrators of
4 the crimes committed in Sarajevo and Srebrenica. Accordingly, the
5 Trial Chamber holds that General Perisic is not criminally responsible
6 for failing to prevent the VRS's crimes or punish their perpetrators.
7 Secondly, General Perisic is charged with failing to punish the
8 perpetrators of the SVK's rocket attacks on Zagreb in May 1995. The
9 Trial Chamber similarly finds that the lead perpetrators of these crimes
10 were SVK officers who were de jure subordinated to General Perisic
11 because they officially remained part of the Yugoslav Army and were
12 members of the 40th Personnel Centre. However, unlike against VRS
13 officers, General Perisic initiated disciplinary proceedings against
14 officers serving in the SVK through the 40th personnel centre.
15 The Trial Chamber by a majority, Judge Moloto dissenting, finds
16 that General Perisic exercised effective control over Yugoslav Army
17 officers serving in the SVK through the 40th Personnel Centre. This
18 conclusion is further based on the finding that General Perisic had the
19 ability to issue command orders to senior SVK officers serving in the
20 40th Personnel Centre, who considered them binding. The majority
21 therefore finds that a superior-subordinate relationship existed at the
22 relevant time between General Perisic and perpetrators of the criminal
23 attacks on Zagreb on the 2nd and 3rd of May 1995.
24 The majority finds that although General Perisic was immediately
25 notified of both of the SVK's rocket attacks on Zagreb, he failed to take
1 "the necessary and reasonable measures" to punish the perpetrators whose
2 grave crimes were left unsanctioned. The majority thus holds that
3 General Perisic is culpable of failing to punish his subordinates for
4 their crimes in Zagreb.
5 General Perisic, will you please rise for the Tribunal's final
6 verdict and sentence.
7 [The accused stands up]
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: The Trial Chamber finds you not guilty and
9 therefore acquits you on Count 13: Extermination as a crime against
10 humanity in relation to Srebrenica.
11 The Trial Chamber finds by majority, Judge Moloto dissenting,
12 that you are guilty as an aider and abettor under Article 7(1) of the
13 Statute of the following counts:
14 Count 1, murder as a crime against humanity in relation to
15 Sarajevo; murder as a violation of the laws or customs of war in relation
16 to Sarajevo; inhumane acts (injuring and wounding civilians) as a crime
17 against humanity in relation to Sarajevo; attacks on civilians as a
18 violation of the laws or customs of war in relation to Sarajevo; Count 9,
19 murder as a crime against humanity in relation to Srebrenica; Count 10,
20 murder as a violation of the laws or customs of war in relation to
21 Srebrenica; Count 11, inhumane acts (inflicting serious injuries and
22 wounding and forcible transfer) as a crime against humanity in relation
23 to Srebrenica; Count 12, persecutions on political, racial, or religious
24 grounds as a crime against humanity in relation to Srebrenica.
25 Regarding Article 7(3) of the Statute as a separate mode of
1 liability for Counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 and Counts 9, 10, 11, and 12, the
2 Trial Chamber finds that you are not guilty as a superior for failing to
3 prevent crimes by subordinates or punish their perpetrators.
4 The Trial Chamber finds by majority, Judge Moloto dissenting,
5 that you are guilty as a superior under Article 7(3) of the Statute for
6 failing to punish your subordinates for their crimes on the following
7 counts: Count 5, murder as a crime against humanity in relation to
8 Zagreb; Count 6, murder as a violation of the laws or customs of war in
9 relation to Zagreb; Count 7, inhumane act, including injuring and
10 wounding civilians, as a crime against humanity in relation to Zagreb;
11 Count 8, attacks on civilians as a violation of the laws or customs of
12 war in relation to Zagreb.
13 In evaluating the proper sentence for these crimes, the majority
14 has considered both aggravating and mitigating circumstances outlined in
15 the official Judgement. In particular, the majority emphasizes that the
16 VRS's crimes lasted over a long period of time and that the victims were
17 numerous and particularly vulnerable. The majority further underlines
18 that you kept providing assistance to the VRS for months after being
19 informed of the VRS's enormous massacre in Srebrenica.
20 For these crimes, the majority sentences you, Momcilo Perisic, to
21 a single term of 27 years in prison. You are entitled to credit for the
22 time period you have been in custody, which amounts to 1.078 days.
23 You may be seated.
24 This concludes the delivery of the Judgement, which will now be
25 made available to the public. And this marks the end of the trial.
1 Court adjourned.
2 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 11.33 p.m.