Sentence to Milan and Sredoje Lukić

Source: Pescanik

01.08.2009.

On the 20th of July 2009 Court Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with Patrick Robinson as a Presiding Judge, has sentenced Milan Lukić for a life term of imprisonment and his cousin Sredoje Lukić to a prison sentence of 30 years. Milan and Sredoje Lukić were sentenced for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Bosnian Muslims in the Eastern-Bosnian town of Višegrad during the period from June 7th, 1992 until October 10th, 1994. Milan Lukić was found guilty for: persecution, murder, extermination, inhumane acts and cruel treatment as crimes against humanity and war crimes, while Sredoje Lukić was found guilty for committing and aiding and abetting crimes of: persecution, murder, cruel treatment and inhumane acts.

Milan Lukić has committed the above named crimes in connection with six separate incidents :

1.      Killing of 5 Bosnian Muslim men on the bank of River Drina on or about June 7th, 1992;

2.      Killing of 7 Bosnian Muslims in “Varda” furniture factory on or about June 10th, 1992;

3.      Burning alive 59 people (including women and children) in a barricaded house in Pionirska street in Višegrad on or about the June 14th, 1992;

4.      Burning alive at least 60 people (women and children included) in a barricaded house in the Višegrad settlement of Bikavac on or about June 27th, 1992;

5.      Beating of prisoners in Uzamnica prison-camp during the time period from August 1992 until October 1994;

6.      Murder of Hajra Korić in or about June 1992.

Sredoje Lukić was found guilty for two separate incidents:

1.     Burning alive of 59 people (including women and children) in a barricaded house in Pionirska street in Višegrad on June 14th, 1992;

2.     Beeting of prisoners in Uzamnica prison-camp in the time period from August 1992 until October 1994.

Although Sredoje Lukić was indicted for the fire in the Bikavac settlement as well, Court Chambers decided that Prosecution had not proven ”beyond reasonable doubt” that Sredoje Lukić was present during the burning of people in the Bikavac settlement.

Court Chambers concluded that Milan Lukić has personally killed at least 130 people and Presiding Judge Patrick Robinson who characterized Lukić’s crimes as “callous and vicious disregard for human life” has stated in an oral explanation of Judgment that: “In the all too long, sad and wretched history of man’s inhumanity to man, the Pionirska street and Bikavac fires must rank high. At the close of the twentieth century, a century marked by war and bloodshed on a colossal scale, these horrific events stand out for the viciousness of the incendiary attack, for the obvious premeditation and calculation that defined it, for the sheer callousness and brutality of herding, trapping and locking the victims in the two houses, thereby rendering them helpless in the ensuing inferno, and for the degree of pain and suffering inflicted on the victims as they were burnt alive.”

It should be mentioned as well that the indictment did not include two cases of abduction and killing — once 16 and second time 18 Muslim and one Croat civilian (who were citizens of FRY[1] at that time) — in 1992 and 1993 in the townships of Sjeverin and Štrpci. Because of the crime in Sjeverin, Milan Lukić was already sentenced by the Belgrade District Court to 20 years imprisonment.

Reactions to the judgement

Although reports about the Judgment instantly became breaking news and dominated most prominent media in the country for days, silence from the most senior state officials — most of all from the President Boris Tadić and from Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković and other Ministers — was conspicuous. Especially so in light of the fact that in a majority of previous cases when ICTY has passed judgments: none of these dignitaries missed an opportunity to comment on them[2]. In spite of that, mid-ranking state officials, representatives of the judiciary and other prominent public figures expressed their support for the judgment – either in total, or somewhat reserved. In that sense spokesman of the Serbian War crimes department Bruno Vekarić stated that the ICTY judgment in the Milan and Sredoje Lukić case represents “[ICTY Chief Prosecutor] Serge Bramertz’s legal victory”, and that it meant “justice for victims”, whereas Dragoljub Todorović who acts as legal representative of the families of abducted passengers from the train in Štrpci, has stated that it is not clear to him why [former Chief Prosecutor] Carla Del Ponte did not include the crimes in Sjeverin and Štrpci in the indictment because there was more than enough evidence for that”. The statement of Vice-President of Sandžak Democratic Party Meho Omerović that ”Serbian national television – RTS should publish the information about the real nature of the crime and not only about the sentence” should be also considered. Support to the judgment was also expressed in readers’ comments at numerous websites: many expressed their exasperation at the gravity of crimes committed and their belief that justice for the victims was done with this judgment.

Albanians and Naser Orić and they are sentencing Serbs the harshest way. Not a single Serb has gotten away”[3].

Official of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Borislav Pelević: ”If ICTY could increase Veselin Šljivančanin’s sentence from 5 to 17 years, and with the same evidence and witnesses acquit Naser Orić, who -according to UNHCR -­is responsible for the death of 3.267 Serbs, than it is clear that this is anti-Serb Tribunal[4]”.

Kurir daily in its issue on of July 22nd, 2009 published a text under the headline ”Injustice” which contains an emotionally intonated confession of Milan Lukić’s sister Draginja Baltić. Stereotypes about ”anti-Serbian tribunal” on the basis of which Milan Lukić was sentenced are prevailing.

The Pravda daily on the same day carried a text headlined ”Serbs were victims in Eastern Bosnia as well”, which characterized the judgment as politically motivated and one-sided, whereas the ICTY is depicted as a Tribunal which is problematic and established ”to prosecute Serbs only”. This standpoints were supported with statements by some opposition leaders such as Aleksandar Čotrić (Serbian Renewal Movement – SPO), Borislav Pelević (SNS), Dubravka Filipovski (New Serbia), Zoran Nikolić (Democratic Party of Serbia) and others.

One should also highlight comments by some of the visitors of web-sites like Politika[5] and Press daily newspapers, and not just because of the fact that many of them reflect direct support to Milan and Sredoje Lukić, and in various ways justify their acts, but because of the fact that both these newspapers are known for their closeness to the Government of Serbia.

Press daily:

Yes the sentence would be small because you are thirsty of Serbian blood; if there is justice, beasts like Haradinaj and Naser Orić would get the same sentence … All of this is a farce which doesn’t serve truth and justice but to cover up the bombing of our state and taking away our territory. If there is any comfort for Lukić that is the fact that Drina is no longer border of between Serb people. (Mitar July 21, 2009, 01:10)

I can’t see any beasts, I see only heroes! Death to the ICTY, freedom for Šešelj!! (anonymous July 21,2009, 01:57)

They frame us as guilty again, justice for Milan!! He is a hero and bastards from The Hague and domestic fools and traitors are presenting him as villain! (Anonymous July 21, 2009, 04:04)

Many thanks to Milan and Sredoje on everything what they gave to the Serbian people, some alleged crimes will never make real Serbs to forget what two of them did for the Serbian people, they were defending Serb children from Croatian and Muslim hordes of evil while some of them who are condemning them today were in America and other countries which were killing our children (Djindjić, Tadić, Dinkić)! Thank you both of you, brothers! You were dying for Serbia and Serbia repays you like this, after all, there is God who sees the treason of our holy country and everything which is orthodox, [he will punish them] the way he punished Djindjić for atrocities against the Serbian people! (Uros July 21, 2009, 04:10)

And I can see only people who were defending their own people, what should they have done – to stand aside and look how Naser Orić is killing, haven’t they? (anonymous July 21, 2009, 11:04)

Politika daily:

Mixer, Jul. 21, 2009, 14:19

And how much did Orić and Islamic terrorists from Kosovo get for murdering a couple of thousand on they own doorstep; all of them were kids, women and civilians. What they get will reflect the face of ICTY and Serbia. How many years for terrorism and war crimes someone in Serbia who belongs to other nationality for much bigger atrocities would get? If that Lukić is guilty and if he did something like that, he deserves punishment, but at present ICTY is not in a state to pass judgments, and Serbia even less. Neither in Serbia nor in The Hague was there someone who was found accountable for war crimes against Serbs. Consequently, another innocent victim of Serbia has fallen in the name of Government of Serbia and its accession to the EU. It is horrible to be a Serb. Yet again time has Serbia shown to Serbs who love their own people and state that there is no place for them. At the same time a message was sent to those who may intend in the future to defend their state and people, what is waiting for them. Both Serbian and The Hague courts.

Aleksandar Karinkton, Jul. 22, 2009, 09:57

Milan Lukić is a hero he saved Višegrad from Muslims and Muslim fanatics who were raging through the streets of the above named town, they even mistreated innocent bystanders of another nationality. The man is completely innocent.

Outlook:

The Milan and Sredoje Lukić verdict clearly demonstrates that unbiased reporting — if and when void of politicking stereotypes — on the nature and magnitude of crimes tried before the ICTY, can provoke emotional and compassionate reactions and unequivocal condemnation of those crimes. However, a large number of politicians, analysts, journalists and intellectuals still persist on ICTY’s anti-Serb conspiracy, and thus divert attention from what really happened and prevent a sincere confrontation with the recent past. Should Serbia’s political elites continue to flirt with crimes committed in the name of Serbdom, public opinion will be anesthetized — and partly radicalized — to the extent that those crimes will become acceptable irrespective of their monstrous character, as numerous reactions to this verdict vividly show. It is in such an atmosphere that further developmen of democrartic institutions and uphold of human rights can hardly be expected.

YUCOM, Human Rights and Democracy Violation, Weekly Newsletter No.42

_______________________________________________________________

[1] Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

[2] The most characteristic case was the ”Vukovar tree” when the ICTY Appeals Chambers had increased the sentence to Collonel Veselin Sljivancanin from 5 to 17 years of imprisonment, whereupon not a single one of the most senior officials missed an oprtunity to condemnd the judgment. The same reaction happend when Naser Oric was acquited.

[3] Glas javnosti daily July 21st, 2009.

[4] Glas javnosti daily July 21st, 2009.

[5] As regards Politika, it should be noted that this newspaper is published by a house partly owned by government, and is under their direct influence.

6 Responses to “Sentence to Milan and Sredoje Lukić”

  1. What you hear tells you something. What you don’t hear also tells you something. There’s still an awful lot of silence in Serbia.

  2. Abdul Majid Says:

    Yes, indeed, it says a lot about Serbs. If most think that subjects like Milan Lukic are heroes, then the world should shun Serbia and the Serbs and not extend them a warm welcome as they are doing today by lifting the schengen visa requirement for them. Imagine, the vitims of the anti-Bosniak genocide must still get visa to travel in the most humiliating, besides time-consuming and expensive manner, while those who wronged them can come and go as they like. And nobody should try to fob me off with “technicalities!” But what with the wave of Islamophobia (better call it anti-Muslimism!) that is sweeping Europe, we can expect that Europe will rather isolate the Bosniaks and try everything to make their lives miserable. And maybe Dodik will too forbid – by referendum or any other means – that minarets are built to mosques in the “RS. Also to those which were destroyed and had one previously (which would be most of them). And what can the Bosniaks do against that?

    Another thing. One of the survivors of the Rwanda Genocide said “If justice is denied, avengers will be born.” That is truie also in Bosnia. And let me tell you, the Bosnian Serbs have through their deeds which I read here on this site every day condemned themselves. Those who commited the crimes and all those who approve of them. If all the evil they did to the Bosniaks comes back to haunt them some day, I for one will approve of it. If future generations of Bosnian Serbs will have soem day to pay for what their fathers or grandfathers, or great-grandfathers did, it will not break my heart. I know that this sort of revenge is at least, morally questionable, but since I am 100% convinced that the genocidal anti-Bosniak crusade, or its defense and justification will by then form part of the Serb tradition and folklore. How do I know? because to commit murder and genocide against Bosniaks is a Serb tradtion that was first enunciated in Njegos’ “Gorski Vijenac”; in the writings of Garasanin; in the infamous SANU meomrandum of 1989 in whose composition Dobrica Cosic (who continues to write in that sense) was instrumental. So, the House of Karadjordjevic; Nikola Pasic; King Aleksander; Draza Mihajlovic; Aleksandar Rankovic (if for ideological reasons); Radovan Karadzic: there is a continuity. There are epic guslar songs extolling all Chetnik villains and teh genocidal anti-Bosniak crusade; some were even written by Radovan Karadzic. The destruction of Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and elsewhere on territories that the Serbs claim – it has become part of their culture and tradition, of their folklore adn their national identity. Knowing this I think that it is justified that the Bosniaks do all and everything that is in their power to mke sure that Serbs will NEVER AGAIN commit genocide against them. And if this means violating or disregarding the human rights of those Bosnian Serbs who still defend the anti-Bosniak genocide, then so be it. I know that one wrong can’t be undone with another wrong, BUT: 1. there must be put a stop to glorifying the genocidal anti-Bosniak crusade and its perpetrators; 2.those who committed it and those who in any way and for whatever reasons defend it, have resigned from the human race and forfeited all their rights. During my travels in Bosnia I have NEVER set foot inside “Republika Srpska” and I never will. I refuse to give it recognition. I hate the idea of, say, drinking a cup of coffee or eating a meal there and paying the owner of the café for it only to find out later that he chased the previous owner out, or murdered him, or took over the business because the previous owner had been murdered or chased away. And besides that I don’t want to speak to nor to be spoken to by some Chetnik murderer or their friends trying to justify the genocide or what’s worse, threaten me with violence because I don’t share their viewpoints or if they know that I profess the Muslim faith. So, I will not be going to Visegrad or any other place in the “RS” anytime soon. Not until the genocidal creature “RS” either is made to reintegrate into the Bosnian state and abolished, and all its current political leaders, officials and policemen have been questioned for their roles durimng the war and all and any war criminals among them removed from office and brought to justice. Will we live to ever see it? Or must future generations of Bosniaks pay back the Chetniks and their descendants? But in any case I will teach MY descendants that under the given circumstances they are right to do so.

  3. I think we know where we disagree, Abdul Majod, so I’ll just agree with you that it is disgraceful that Serbia has been granted Schengen visa access when this is a country where according to the Ipsos Strategic Puls poll for Belgrade Center for Human Rights and the OSCE Mission in Serbia 64% are opposed to the arrest and extradition of Ratko Mladic, and 56% percent believe that he’s not responsible for the crimes for which he has been charged before the ICTY, and 55% of respondents believe former Radovan Karadzic is not responsible for the crimes for which he has been charged before the ICTY.

    A country of war criminal sympathisers is rewarded while its victims are penalised – another sly triumph for Mr Dodik.

  4. Sorry, I miskeyed, Abdul Majid.

  5. Abdul Majid Says:

    Sorry, but I know what the Chetniks did in Videgrad and Srebrenica and elsewhere in Bosnia (since 1992, since the beginning, by following them in the news, and through first-hand accounts by refugees from Zvornik, Sanski Most and other places whom I befriended during the war) and I feel absolutely no sympathy for those people nor do I want any of them to thell me their justifications for the genocidal anti-Bosniak crusade to my face, nor to do me any bodily harm as they did with some foreign visitors to Belgrade last summer. It is reason enough for me to shun them; even though I quite like their traditional folk music and their cuisine (which are not surprisingly quite similar to the Bosnian) since I was a little kid. But not the Serbs as such. There are very decent Serbs and Bosnian Serbs around but they are few and far in between. I feel a profound dislike for those who believe that it is good an djust and right to destroy the Bosniaks. Unfortunately they are the majority. One even wrote that:

    “You may have gotten the worse end of the stick 18 years ago for a duration of 4 years but my friend we got the worse end of the stick for 500 years which may have ended a while ago, regardless those 500 years produced our nation YOU who have been a thorn in our back ever since and has not brought any good. We should’ve been smart to deport all our Muslims like the Greeks and Spaniards did, at the end it brought them long internal peace and prosperity, we gave ours a chance where it just came back to haunt us and did us no good.
    No we have to put up with people of our own blood who stab us in teh back with wars, false history and language and other things.”

    You see what a horrible and evil character people like that have? They are no asset to the human race. And they must be taught that such ways are wrong. Unless the Serb government distances itself from the genocidal anti-Bosniak crusade and rescinds all claims on Bosna and her peoples, I will consider them the declared enemies of Bosniaks and I will continue to think that the Bosniaks have all the right in the world to get themselves refress, with all and any means. More and more I am convinced that Dodik seeks the partition of Bosnia and the ghettoization of Bosniaks in two isolated, disconnected pockest of land that would be like the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. So I consider it legitimate that the Bosniaks do all they can to prevent this from happeneing, and if it means by military means then so be it.
    The destruction of Muslims forms part of the Serb tradition and folklore since 1878, this can’t be denied. It seems impossible that they can be persuaded to let go of this nefarious tradition, especially now that we have in Europe an enmity and mistrust towards Muslims that we haven’t had since the time of the Crusades or since the 16th century. Except of course for those whom I said are few and far in between.
    If the present generation can’t achieve redress and justice for the anti-Bosniak genocidal crusade, they will live forever in bitterness, and pass on that bitterness to future generations. Especially if Bosniaks continue to be kept in limbo. Then their children or grandchildren might feel compelled to take revenge one day on those who murdered, raped and tortured and expelled their ancestors from their homes which had been Bosniak for 600 years. And let me tell you, when having to deal with people like the one who wrote that hate speechs against Muslims, there can be no peaceful coexistence. They are like mad dogs. There is only one way to deal with mad dogs. Regrettably. But that is how it is. I wish it was not so. But “if justice is denied, avengers are born.”

  6. @Abdul Majid: Thanks for regularly reading and commenting on my blog. This is a difficult subject to read on every day. Thanks to those who do have the stomach for it. But one thing is very important: we must not let emotions effect our work. Courts aren’t interested in emotions, they want facts.
    One way to deal with emotions is to put it in use in activism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: