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Serbian Courts Hand Down First Verdicts for Srebrenica Massacre; Argentina prosecute black sites.

Serbian Courts Hand Down First Verdicts for Srebrenica Massacre; Argentina prosecute black sites.The first sentences in regards to the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica were handed down today by a Serbian war crimes court.  Four members of a paramilitary group known as The Scorpions were handed sentences ranging from five to twenty years.  The soldiers were seen in a film, which surfaced during the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at The Hague, leading six Bosnian Muslims to a clearing in a wooded area and shot.  Four of the Bosnians were shot immediately, while the other two were forced to carry the bodies to another location and shot there.  Prior to the release of the videos, the popular belief among Serbians was the atrocities occurred during the heat of the battle.  The trial commenced in a special tribunal established in Serbia to handle lesser atrocities handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  It was largely a domestic system. 

According to the official ruling, Slobodan Medic, the Scorpions unit commander, ordered the six Bosnians be executed in a manner that made it appear as if they were killed in conflict.  A bodyguard for Slobodan Medic, Pero Petrasevic, pleaded guilty in the biggest domestic war crimes trial in Serbian history, stating that his commander ordered the execution, or face execution himself.  Petrasevic was given a 13 year sentence, though he is the only one who admitted to shooting the victims.  Slobodan Medic was given 20 years.  The verdict comes after the International Court of Justice cleared the state of Serbia of responsibility for the massacre in Srebrenica.

The Srebrenica massacre is seen as the gravest atrocity committed in Europe since The Holocaust.  In July 1995, 8000 Bosnian men were systematically executed in the UN safe area. Serbian Courts Hand Down First Verdicts for Srebrenica Massacre; Argentina prosecute black sites. A domestic tribunal system prosecuting this case may be seen as an important sign in facing the dark history of genocide.  Various tribunal systems have materialized with mix results.  The Iraqi Tribunal system may be seen as a pre-mature system, while other domestic variances, such as the Khmer Rouge tribunal, are seen as corrupt.  With the first prosecutions from the massacre of Srebrenica emerging from Serbian courts, perhaps in some scenarios, the system is just.

In other news, a court in Argentina has ordered a former president to face human rights charges stemming from the operation of clandestine detention facilities (black sites) during the mid-1970's.  Dozens of former officials are facing prosecution as Argentina's Supreme Court struck down amnesty laws.  Human rights groups put the estimates at 30,000 missing from these black sites.

The unedited video may be seen here.  (It's a bit propogandist, but it's the only unedited version I could find.)

BBC has excellent coverage here.

I’ve covered the tribunals previously and relevant links are there.

The AP report on Argentina is here.



Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors