9 July 2018

Srebrenica Court Verdicts: Do They Make Sense?

De voormalige Dutchbat-basis in Potocari/Srebrenica

Ahead of the 23rd anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres, questions have been raised about whether the verdicts so far are logical, because some commanders have been convicted of less serious crimes than their subordinates. Political historian Iva Vukusic MA spoke with Balkan Transitional Justice on the verdicts.

Legal experts have suggested that some verdicts were illogical, because the UN court in The Hague and the Bosnian state court in Sarajevo have handed down several verdicts. In the case of the commanders Pandurevic and Borovcanin, their superiors, as well as their subordinates, have been convicted of genocide rather than crimes against humanity.

The fact that the legal processing of genocide and other crimes committed against Bosniaks from Srebrenica in July 1995 has been divided between a number of different prosecutors in The Hague, Sarajevo and Belgrade has led to a variety of differing approaches and charges.

Nevertheless, historians and former employees of prosecutors’ officers in The Hague and Sarajevo point out that genocide and other crimes in Srebrenica have been investigated and processed in a high-quality manner, and as a result, a clear historical record has been established.

Iva Vukusic states that the classifications of the crimes that were committed differ because they have been processed in so many different cases involving judges, prosecutors and lawyers from different legal systems. “Law is not simple and even well-intentioned; competent judges may come to different conclusions after having watched and listened to the same pieces of evidence,” Vukusic said.