(srpski) PRENOSIMO: Reagovanje FHP Kosovo na rečnik premijera Kosova povodom ostavke tužioca Blakaja
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Sorry, this entry is only available in srpski.
On July 11, 2018, it will be 23 years since the genocide was committed in Srebrenica, when members of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) killed almost 8,000 Bosniaks. Although in several judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia it was determined that it was genocide committed in Srebrenica, the authorities in Serbia still continue to refuse to accept this fact, arguing that “it is unacceptable that the Serbs are declared genocidal and evil every July“. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) believes that after 23 years it is necessary for the Serbian government to act in a politically mature manner and accept the facts established by the court; and that the state organs involved in the proceedings currently pending before the domestic courts cease with their prolongations, in order to restore dignity to the victims and accord them acknowledgement of their suffering for the loss of their loved ones.
On 9 July 2018, 19 years will have passed since the murder of brothers Mehmet (21), Agron (23) and Ylli (25) Bytyqi, committed by members of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior (MUP). The nearly two decades of the continuous failure of the investigations undertaken by the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) and the MUP to clarify the killings of Mehmet, Ylli and Agron, suggest that the perpetrators of these crimes from the 1990s remain stronger than the institutions and the rule of law, and that justice in Serbia continues to be selective, and those responsible for the execution of the Bytyqi brothers above the law.
Deciding upon appeal, the Court of Appeal in Belgrade confirmed the judgment of acquittal rendered in the case of members of the „Sima’s Chetniks“ unit, who were charged with the destruction of a mosque and murder of 27 Roma civilians in the village of Skočić (Zvornik, Bosnia and Herzegovina), crimes committed in July 1992; whilst the court modified the judgment in the case of the accused Zoran Alić, Zoran Đurđević and Tomislav Gavrić, and found them guilty of inhuman treatment, violation of physical integrity, sexual humiliation and rape of protected witnesses. Tomislav Gavrić and Zoran Đurđević were sentenced to 10 years in prison each, whereas Zoran Alić was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment. The HLC holds that the Court of Appeal additionally aggravated the process of proving co-perpetration in cases of war crimes with the judgment at issue, by putting almost impossible conditions before the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP), which it has to meet in the prosecution of complex cases of war crimes.
On March 8, 2018, the Higher Court in Belgrade issued a decision to release Saša Cvjetan, a former member of the „Scorpions” police unit, sentenced to twenty years in prison for killing fourteen Albanian civilians in Podujevo in March 1999. He has served over two thirds of the sentence to which he was convicted. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) points out that, with the Higher Court granting Cvjetan’s request to be released early from prison, the sentence to which he was convicted for grave crimes committed against civilians loses its meaning, and the victims’ sufferings are being neglected.
On March 28, 1999, members of the Serbian police unit known as the “Scorpions”, among them Cvjetan, in the Gashi family yard in Podujevo shot fourteen Albanian civilians – seven children aged from two to fifteen, and seven women: Shpetim Bogujevci (10), Shpend Bogujevci (13), Sala Bogujevci (39), Nora Bogujevci (15), Shefkate Bogujevci (43), Shehide Bogujevci (67), Nefise Bogujevci Llugaliu (54), Fezdrije Llugialiu (21), Dafina Duriqi (9), Arber Duriqi (7), Mimoze Duriqi (4), Albin Duriqi (2), Fitnete Duriqi (36) and Isma Duriqi (69). Five children who survived the shooting suffered serious injuries – Saranda, Fatos, Jehona, Lirije and Genc Bogujevci.
On April 11 2018, the Appeals Chamber of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in The Hague passed sentence with its final verdict on the President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), Vojislav Šešelj, and reversed his acquittal by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Trial Chamber, sentencing him to 10 years of imprisonment for encouraging persecution (forced displacement), deportation, and other inhumane acts (forcible transfer), as crimes against humanity, and for committing persecutions in Hrtkovci in Vojvodina (violations of the right to security) as a crime against humanity. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers such a judgement significant, since in this way the victims of deportation and persecution in Hrtkovci almost 26 years ago have received judicial satisfaction; however, justice has only been partially satisfied, given the scope of the indictment against Šešelj, which encompasses the area of Sarajevo, as well as the municipalities of Zvornik, Nevesinje and Mostar in BiH, and Vukovar in Croatia.
On Monday, March 12, 2018, the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) presented the Draft Prosecutorial Strategy for the Investigation and Prosecution of War Crimes in the Republic of Serbia for the period 2018-2023 (Draft), in accordance with the obligations of the Action Plan for Chapter 23 and the National War Crimes Prosecution Strategy (National Strategy). The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) considers that the method of presenting the draft was not transparent, and that the draft strategy does not offer any solution to overcoming the key shortcomings in the previous work of the OWCP, and fails to determine adequate measures for achieving the primary goal the more efficient prosecution of war crimes.
The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo published in 2014 the list of individuals who died as a consequence of NATO bombing of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. According to this list, the NATO attacks killed a total of 754 people: 454 civilians and 300 members of the armed forces. 207 civilians were of Serbian and Montenegrin ethnicity, 219 were Albanian, 14 civilians were Roma, and 14 were of other nationalities. From among members of armed forces, a total of 274 members of the VJ/MUP of Serbia and 26 members of the KLA were killed.
On January 22, 2018, the Ministry of Justice published a working text that envisages amendments to the Constitution in the provisions governing the work of the judiciary. The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) would like to point out that the proposed amendments to the Serbian Constitution reduce the currently attained level of independence of judges, as well as the autonomy of prosecutors, only to relocate the existing political influence on the judiciary from the National Assembly to the High Judicial Council, through the “distinguished lawyers” who constitute this body and independently have the majority in making decisions, as well as the authority to introduce institutes and institutions through which the executive power can directly exercise political influence on the election of judges and prosecutors. Bearing in mind the previous work of the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor (OWCP) and of the Special Council of the Higher Court in Belgrade regarding war crimes, characterized by the small number of indictments, the non-processing of medium and high-ranking members of the army and police, the absence of political support for trials and the delays in proceedings, the HLC considers that the proposed amendments to the Constitution will only contribute to the continuation of such a manner of working, owing to political pressure, which is bound to come from the change in the composition of the High Judicial Council and of non-judicial bodies that would be receiving quasi-judicial powers.