UN war crimes tribunal reduces jail sentence for former Bosnian Serb politician

3 April 2007 –

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia today slightly reduced the sentence of a former leading Bosnian Serb politician jailed over his role in the ethnic cleansing that took place during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, but upheld most of his original convictions.

Radoslav Brdanin will now serve 30 years in jail after the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), sitting in The Hague, cut his sentence from 32 years.

The appeals chamber overturned the trial chamber’s finding that Mr. Brdanin’s conduct had a substantial effect on the commission of torture in detention camps run by Bosnian Serbs in north-western Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992, saying there was no evidence that the Bosnian Serb forces were aware of his attitude towards the camps.

The judges also reversed the conviction for the wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages as far as it related to the municipality of Bosanska Krupa.

But they reaffirmed nearly all other convictions for Mr. Brdanin’s role in a campaign of ethnic cleansing between April and December 1992 in the Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK), an area created by Bosnian Serbs as part of a self-styled state. Those convictions include wilful killing, torture and persecution.

Mr. Brdanin held various prominent positions within the region at that time, including serving as President of the ARK Crisis Staff. He was also later a minister and acting vice-president in the Republika Srpska government.

In September 2004 the ICTY’s trial chamber found there had been a systematic and strategic plan by the Bosnian Serb state organizers to permanently remove Muslims and Croats from the ARK, and that Mr. Brdanin was well aware of such a plan and had contributed to it.

Prosecutors had told the Tribunal that while Mr. Brdanin had not physically carried out any of the crimes, he had “participated in a joint criminal enterprise” of ethnic cleansing.

Today, the appeals chamber said that while it had reduced the original sentence to reflect the reversal of certain convictions, given the gravity of the convictions that it had upheld, the reduction in jail term should be limited.

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