Visegrad’s mass murderers: Mitar Vasiljevic
born 25 August 1954 in Durevici, Visegrad municipality, Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Indictment (“Visegrad”)
The initial indictment against Mitar Vasiljevic, Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic was confirmed on 26 October 1998. Mitar Vasiljevic was arrested and transferred to the Tribunal on 25 January 2000. On 28 January 2000, he pleaded not guilty to all 14 counts of the indictment.
An amended indictment against Mitar Vasiljević, Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić was filed on 12 July 2001 and on 20 July 2001 Judge Hunt orally granted leave to amend the indictment, charging Mitar Vasiljević with ten counts. Although the amended indictment did not alter any factual allegations or legal theories found in the original indictment, in light of new evidence and further investigations, it did withdraw four counts against Mitar Vasiljevic relating to the house burning in Bikavac.
On 24 July 2001, with the two co-accused still at large, the Trial Chamber ordered that Mitar Vasiljevic be tried separately.
The Amended Indictment states that Mitar Vasiljevic, a Bosnian Serb, was born 25 August 1954, in the village of Durevici, Visegrad municipality. Before the war, he worked as a waiter at the Hotel Panos in Visegrad. After the war started, Mitar Vasiljevic joined Milan Lukic’s group of paramilitaries.
According to the Amended Indictment, confirmed on 20 July 2001, Milan Lukic formed a group of local paramilitaries referred to often as the “White Eagles” and the “Avengers” in the spring of 1992. This group worked together with local police and Serb military units to inflict a reign of terror on the local Muslim population in the Visegrad muncipality, in the south-east of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Milan Lukic’s cousin Sredoje Lukic was also a member of the group. The group’s criminal activities lasted from April 1992 to October 1994.
The Indictment alleges that sometime during May and July 1992 Mitar Vasiljevic allegedly committed a multitude of crimes including the murder of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians, the harassment, humiliation, terrorization psychological abuse, and theft and destruction of personal property of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians. In addition the indictments alleges that on or about 7 June 1992, Milan Lukic, Mitar Vasiljevic and other uncharged individuals led seven Bosnian Muslim men to the Drina River and forced them to line up along its bank. Milan Lukic, Mitar Vasiljevic, and others then opened fire and shot at the men with automatic weapons thereby causing the deaths of: Meho Dzafic, Ekrem Dzafic, Hasan Kustura, Hasan Mutapcic and Amir Kurtalic.
Mitar Vasiljevic is charged with six counts of crimes against humanity (Article 5 of the Statute – extermination; persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; murder; inhumane acts) and four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (Article 3 of the Statute – murder; violence to life and person).
On 24 July 2001, the Trial Chamber ordered that the accused Mitar Vasiljevic be tried separately on the Indictment since the two co-accused were still at large. The trial of Mitar Vasiljevic commenced on 10 September 2001 with the presentation of the Prosecution case-in-chief which concluded on 12 October 2001.The defence case commenced on 23 October 2001 and concluded on 10 January 2001. The closing arguments for both parties took place 6, 8 and 14 March 2002.
Trial Chamber Judgement
On 29 November 2002, the Trial Chamber rendered its Judgement (see Judicial Supplement No. 38). Sentencing Mitar Vasiljevic to 20 years’ imprisonment, the Trial Chamber found that the Accused “incurred individual criminal responsibility for the crime of persecution as a crime against humanity in relation to the murder of five men and the inhumane acts against the two survivors”.
The Trial Chamber acquitted the Accused of the other counts charged against him (i.e. extermination, violence to life and person), the evidences of those charges being considered insufficient.