Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Krajisnik Verdict: Legal Aspects

Wow, I haven't written one single post about this trial until yesterday, and now I have four posts in a row about it!

The full judgement can be found at the ICTY website:

As my previous posts on the verdict have alluded to, the most controversial aspect of the verdict was the acquittal on the genocide charge.
On the justwatch l discussion group, there are some interesting discussions on the aspects of "actus reus" (the crime) and "men rea" (the intent to commit the crime). As well as other posts steming from the legal aspects of the verdict.

Justwatch Discussion List: September


Owen said...

Shaina, the judgment link didn't work.

Shaina said...

this should be the correct link

Srebrenica Massacre said...

It's hard to prove genocide. But let's keep things into perspect. They charged him with "Bosnian Genocide", not Srebrenica Genocide, am I correct?


Shaina said...


yes, he was not charged with anything to do with the Srebrenica genocide.
(At least that is my understanding)
Here is the indictment:

Owen said...

Shaina, thanks for the link. Yes, Dan, you're right, the indictments only covered the period 1 July 1991 to 30 December 1992. I'm not sure why. However the charges refer not to Bosnia but to specific municipalities, presumably in order to establish the scope of Krajisnik's authority.

I don't understand why Krajisnik isn't charged with responsibility for the crimes of the Joint Criminal Enterprise after 30 December 1992. He continued in a position of influence as the Assembly President up until November 1995, not to mention being a member of the National Security Council and a member of the SDS Main Board (not sure till when).

Looking at the structure of power in RS the court found that the Western-style democratic structure of the Bosnian-Serb Republic was a veneer intended for international as well as local diversion. Behind it was an accummulation of power in the hands of a few individuals in the name of ethnic chauvinism and one of those individuals was Krajisnik.

Also I'm not clear why the precise limit date of 30 December was chosen. I had thought it might be linked to membership of the Presidency because Krajisnik ceased being an active member in December 1992 but his membership apparently ended on 17 and not 30 December.

However the period includes the circulation of the Instructions for the Organisation and Activity of the Serbian People in BH among the SDS Main Board on 19 December, establishing the idea of a central authority in the municipalities.

It would be interesting to know how the judges decided that "mens rea" wasn't established. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence of complicity in acts which the judges confirmed as genocide (what they refer to as "actus reus"). It must be a question of reasonable doubt remaining. I wonder where that doubt resides and whether the eventual trial of Karadzic will be able to fill the gaps.

The judgment itself is 450 pages long and there's a mass of transcript evidence behind it, and tonnes more that never came before the court. I can understand the dilemma that the prosecution faces between the historic duty of proving the facts of crime generally and the need to secure some solid convictions. Justice isn't easy. Legal justice is a compromise. And given the scope of what Krajisnik helped to bring about 27 years strikes me as still quite a light price to pay.