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Bosnian Serbs Found Guilty in Sex War CrimesAired February 22, 2001 - 8:07 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: We are waiting for a verdict in a very important precedenting legal case in The Hague, the Netherlands. We want to keep you up to date on that.
You're looking at live pictures now of the United Nations Tribunal on War Crimes. It has been hearing the first case of wartime sexual abuse to come before an international court in connection with rapes and sexual enslavement that allegedly went on during the Bosnian war. Judge Florence Mumba is the presiding judge in the case. She is addressing the Court now. Let's listen in for just a moment.
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JUDGE FLORENCE MUMBA, THE HAGUE: ... in small places close to home.
The three accused are certainly not in the category of the police corps or military masterminds behind the conflicts and atrocities. However, the trial chamber wishes to make it perfectly clear that, although in these cases before this tribunal, it is generally desirable to prosecute and try those in the higher echelons of power. The trial chamber will not accept low rank or subordinate function as an escape from criminal prosecution.
Politically, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are powerless if the ordinary people refuse to carry out criminal activities in the course of war. Loyalists, opportunists should expect no mercy no matter how low their position in the chain of command may be. Indeed, it is opportunity to state that in time of peace as much as in time of war, men of substance do not abuse women.
The trial chamber will now set out its verdict with regards to its accused. Will the accused, Dragoljub Kunarac, please stand?
Dragoljub Kunarac, on counts one to four, you were charged with rape and torture. Both are a violation of the laws and customs of war and a crime against humanity. The trial chamber does not accept your defense of alibi with respect to any of these charges. And that applies equally for all the other counts that you are charged with in the indictment.
As for the charge that you took Witness 87 to the house at Olica Osmana Dicta (ph) Number 16 at least twice between 13 July and 1 August, 1992, where she was allegedly raped by the other soldiers, the trial chamber finds that the allegations have not been established beyond reasonable doubt.
As for the charge that, on or around 16 July 1992, you took Witness 75 and Debe (ph) to Olica Osmana Dicta (ph) Number 16 where they were raped by several soldiers, where you personally raped Debe and aided and abetted the gang rape of Witness 75 by several soldiers, the trial chamber finds that these charges have been proved to beyond reasonable doubt.
As to the charge that, on 2 August 1992, you took Witness 87, Witness 75, Witness 50 and Debe to Olica Osmana Dicta (ph) Number 16, and that you, Dragoljub Kunarac, presently raped Witness 87 and aided and abetted the rape of Witness 87, Witness 75 and Witness 50 at the hands of the other soldiers, the trial chamber finds that these charges have been proved to beyond reasonable doubt.
As to the charge that at least twice between 13 July and 2 August 1992 you took Witness 95 from Fatisan (ph) Sports Hall to Olica Osmana Dicta (ph) Number 16 where she was allegedly once raped by you and by three other soldiers, and that the second time she was raped by three soldiers but not by you, the trial chamber finds that it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that you personally raped Witness 95 on one occasion, but it has not been established that Witness 95 was raped by other soldiers during the two incidents mentioned above.
According to the tests laid out by the trial chamber in its judgment with respect to cumulative convictions for the same conduct, namely that such convictions are permissible when each offense charged contains at least one distinct element not contained in the other, your conduct can be punished as both rape and torture, both on Article 3 of the statute of the violation of the laws and customs of war, and on Article 5 of the statute as a crime against humanity. This legal principle applies equally in the indictments against the three accused.
The trial chamber therefore finds you guilty under count one of torture as a crime against humanity, under count two of rape as a crime against humanity, under count three of torture as a violation of the laws and customs of war, and under count four of rape as a violation of the laws and customs of war.
Under counts five to eight, you are charged with torture and rape, both as a violation of the laws and customs of war and as a crime against humanity. On the evidence before reached, the trial chamber finds that the charges have not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The trial chamber, therefore, finds you not guilty under counts five, six, seven and eight.
Under counts nine and 10, you were charged with rape as a violation of the laws and customs of war and as a crime against humanity.
As for the charge that sometime in September, October 1992 you went to a place called Caraman's House (ph) in Milivina (ph), you took Witness 87 to the upper floor and raped her, the trial chamber finds that the charges have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The trial chamber therefore finds you guilty under count nine of rape as a crime against humanity and under count 10 as a violation of the laws and customs of war. Under counts 11 and 12, you are charged with torture and rape as a violation of the laws and customs of war. The trial chamber finds that these charges have been fully established.
One evening in mid-July, 1992, you and two other soldiers took Witness 183 from her home to the banks of the Chaotina River (ph) in Foca where the three of you raped her. You personally raped Witness 183 and aided and abetted her rape by the other two soldiers by encouraging the other men while they were raping her. You further mocked the victim by telling the other soldiers to wait for their turn while you were raping her, by laughing at her while she was raped by the other soldiers, and, finally, by saying that she would carry Serb babies and that she would not know the father.
Accordingly, the trial chamber finds you guilty under count 11 of torture as a violation of the laws and customs of war, and under count 12 of rape as a violation of the customs -- of the laws and customs of war.
Under counts 18 to 21, you are charged with enslavement and outrages upon personal dignity as crimes against humanity and with rape, both as a violation of the laws and customs of war and as a crime against humanity.
The trial chamber finds that, on the evidence before it, the facts underlying these charges have partly been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The trial chamber finds that you, Dragoljub Kunarac, on 2 August 1992, personally raped Witness 191 in the house in Tenavacha (ph), and by taking the girls to the house aided and abetted the rape of Witness 186 at the hands of the soldier with the pseudonym DP6.
However, the trial chamber is not satisfied that Deje (ph), whom you had also brought to the house, was raped by the soldier with the nickname Gaga (ph) on that night.
Furthermore, the trial chamber finds that from 2 August 1992 onwards, you, Dragoljub Kunarac, raped Witness 191 whenever you visited a house in Tenavacha (ph) while DP6 raped Witness 186 during that period.
It has, however, not been established that you aided and abetted the rape of Witness 186 by DP6 during the same period, as it has not been shown apart from the incident when you brought the women to the house that you were present while DP6 raped 186 or supported him in any other way.
It has not been shown that your presence or actions assisted or provided encouragement to DP6 in raping Witness 186. The loose connection between the events at the house and your sporadic presence there would astray to the concept of aiding and abetting with respect to the actual rapes beyond its limits, while it is still close enough for the count on enslavement. The trial chamber also finds that Witness 186 and Witness 191 were kept for several months in the house in Tenavacha (ph) where they were treated as private property by both you and DP6.
The charge chamber considers the following elements to be of particular relevance for the crime of enslavement. The fact that the girls were detained, the fact that they had to do everything they were ordered to do, including the cooking and housework chores, the fact that you stated exclusivity over Witness 191 by reserving her for yourself, and that they were at the constant disposal of you and DP6, other degrading treatment such as offering one soldier the permission to rape her for 100 deutsche marks in the presence of 191, and that they were effectively denied any control about their lives.
The trial chamber is of the view that you and DP6 acted in combination and aided and abetted each other regarding the enslavement of these women. The trial chamber is, however, of the view that the evidence is not sufficient to support the charge of outrages upon personal dignity in relation to both Witness 186 and Witness 191.
The trial chamber therefore finds you guilty under count 18 of enslavement as a crime against humanity, under count 19 of rape as a crime against humanity, under count 20 of rape as a violation of the laws and customs of war, but not guilty under count 21 of outrages upon personal dignity as a violation of the laws and customs of war.
By the totality of these acts, you have shown the most glaring disrespect for the women's dignity and their fundamental human right to sexual self-determination on a scale that far surpasses even what one might call, for want of a better expression, the average seriousness of rapes during wartime.
You abused and ravaged Muslim women because of their ethnicity. And from among their number, you picked whomsoever you fancied on a given occasion.
You were a soldier with courage in the field, somebody whom your own men undisputedly are said to have held in high esteem. By this natural authority, you could easily have put an end to the women's suffering. Your active participation in this nightmarish scheme of sexual exploitation is therefore even more repugnant.
You not only mistreated women and girls yourself, but you also organized their transfer to other places, where, as you are fully aware, they would be raped and abused by other soldiers. This behavior calls for a severe penalty commensurate with the gravity of your crimes.
The trial chamber therefore sentences you, Dragoljub Kunarac, to a single sentence of 28 years imprisonment. The sentence shall run from today. The time you have spent in custody shall be credited towards the sentence. You may sit down.
MCEDWARDS: All right, you have been watching an historic moment here on CNN, the first guilty verdict in a case of war-time sexual abuse to come before an international court. And you just heard some extremely harsh words from the presiding judge in the case for the defendant, Dragoljub Kunarac, who was a Serb soldier at the time. He has been found guilty of most of the rape and torture charges brought against him, sentenced to 28 years in prison beginning today with credit for time already in custody.
There are a total of three former Serb soldiers who are on trial here. Among them, they face more than 50 counts of various charges, war crimes, crimes against humanity. The sentencing is continuing. The verdict is continuing.
Two more soldiers to face the verdict and sentencing, and we're going to keep watching that for you here on CNN and bring you up to date as it happens. Our Christiane Amanpour is in the courtroom, and as soon as it is over we will bring you the full accounting of what has happened there.
But for now, the first defendant to be sentenced in this case has been found guilty of most of the charges against him, sentenced to 28 years in prison.
This, of course, is about the situation in Bosnia during the war in a town called Foca, which is just south of Sarajevo, where women and men were herded into separate prisons. Women were raped and tortured in those prisons. Human rights groups believe that tens of thousand of women faced this kind of treatment during the Bosnian War.
Again, the crimes carry a maximum life sentence. This first historic sentencing to be handed down, 28 years in prison.
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