Bosnian Serb guilty of war crimes, cleared of murder
May 7, 1997
Web posted at: 10:38 a.m. EDT (1438 GMT)
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CNN) -- A Bosnian Serb prison guard
was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity on
Wednesday by the U.N. tribunal for former Yugoslavia. Dusan
Tadic, 41, was cited for his part in a Serb "ethnic
cleansing" campaign against Muslims during the Bosnian war.
He was convicted on 11 of 31 charges -- but cleared of murder
-- in the first international war crimes verdict since World
War II when tribunals in Nuremberg, Germany, and Tokyo sent
17 Axis leaders to the gallows.
Charged with murder and torture in and around three Serb-run
camps in northwest Bosnia in 1992, Tadic looked pale and
shocked as he heard presiding judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald
of the United States pronounce him guilty on 11 counts of
persecution and beatings.
The panel of three judges found him not guilty on nine counts
of murder and declared a further 11 charges inapplicable.
Rape charges were dropped by the prosecution after alleged
victims refused to testify.
Tadic's lawyer, Milan Vujin, said he would appeal. Tadic "is
not satisfied because he said, 'I'm not guilty,'" Vujin said.
The decision to appeal appeared likely to delay a July 1
Tadic, who has been in prison more than three years, had
faced a life sentence for any of the murder charges, but it
was unclear what maximum penalty Tadic faced given that he
was cleared of those charges.
McDonald said that despite the high-profile nature of the
case, the judges' main concern had been to give Tadic a fair
trial. "This, we believe, has been done," she said.
Richard Goldstone, the U.N. tribunal's former chief
prosecutor, said the verdict legitimizes the international
effort to bring Tadic to trial.
|The U.N. tribunal's former chief prosecutor comments on:
the precedent set by the decision|
(247K/22 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
||the credibility of the tribunal|
(191K/17 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
"Our concern at all times ... has been that trials by the
tribunal should be seen as fair," he told CNN in a live
interview. "No finger can be pointed at the tribunal or the
prosecution team in that regard."
During seven months of hearings last year, prosecutors
portrayed Tadic as a ruthless killer and buttressed that
contention with the testimony of 11 eyewitnesses, all but one
of whom said they were acquainted with Tadic before the war.
Prosecutors alleged that Tadic had rounded up his former
Muslim neighbors in the Prijedor region of northwest Bosnia
in 1992 and had tortured, raped and killed them at Serb-run
Slide show of scenes
from the Trnopolje camp during the war.
(104K/33 sec./160x120 Smaller frame QuickTime movie or 251K/33 sec./320x240 Larger frame QuickTime movie)
Tadic has always denied the charges. Defense lawyers painted
a picture of the accused as a man forced to flee Bosnia by
his own people after refusing to fight in the war.
They said Tadic was a victim of Muslims' desire to find a
scapegoat for their suffering at the hands of the Serbs.
The former bar-owner and father of two girls was found
guilty of taking part in Serb attacks on his hometown of
Kozarac and other villages and herding the inhabitants into
camps where they were beaten and kept in inhuman conditions.
The tribunal found him guilty of complicity in the killing
of two policemen but cleared him of other murders, saying
conclusive evidence had not been presented to support those
Tadic also was cleared of direct involvement in one of the
worst atrocities mentioned in the indictment in which a
prisoner in the notorious Omarska camp was forced to bite off
the testicles of another prisoner.
A prisoner who witnessed that event testified he did not see
Tadic on that occasion.
Tadic is one of eight war crimes suspects held at the Hague
tribunal's 24-cell detention center. To date, indictments
have been issued against 75 suspects in the aftermath of the
3 1/2 year Bosnian war, which ended in 1995.
Most of the tribunal's cases against the 74 others lack
physical evidence and, like the Tadic case, will rely on
The former Bosnian Serb political and military leaders,
Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, both indicted for genocide
against the Bosnian Muslims, are among those still at large.
Authorities in various parts of the former Yugoslavia have
given only limited cooperation to the tribunal while NATO-led
peacekeepers have refused to hunt down and arrest suspects.
Correspondent Patricia Kelly and Reuters contributed to this report.
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