ICTY convicts former Serbian official Djordjevic

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Wednesday convicted former senior Serbian police official Vlastimir Djordjevic on five counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, sentencing him to 27 years. Djordjevic was convicted of committing racial persecution through deportation and forcible transfer through his participation in a joint criminal enterprise and two counts of murder—one as a crime against humanity and the other as a violation of the laws or customs of war under Article 3 and 5 of the Statute of the ICTY, which resulted in the death of at least 724 Kosovo Albanians. Djordjevic was held responsible for the March 26, 1999, shooting and torching of 114 men and boys, deportation of 200,000 Kosovo Albanians and for playing a leading role in concealing the murder of Kosovo Albanians.

A primary allegation against the Accused in the Indictment is that he participated in a Joint Criminal Enterprise, i.e. common plan, which, as noted earlier, had the alleged purpose of changing the ethnic balance in Kosovo. This objective was to be achieved through criminal means consisting of a widespread or systematic campaign of terror and violence against Kosovo Albanians and which included the crimes charged.

At the time of the events alleged in the Indictment the Accused held the office of Assistant Minister of Internal Affairs of Serbia. As Chief of the Public Security Department, he commanded and exercised effective control over in particular, the Special Police Units (PJP) and of the Special Anti-terrorist Unit (SAJ) of the police force.

According to the Court

In the large majority of cases the victims, including many women and children, were civilians, who were unarmed and not in any way participating in any form of armed conflict. I would emphasize that this trial is not concerned with members of the KLA killed in combat with Serbian forces. However, some of those murdered may have been members of the KLA but, when killed, they were prisoners of the Serbian forces, unarmed and unable to participate in any form of armed conflict. No attempt was made to identify or arrest individuals, for the purpose of investigation or trial as terrorists or suspected terrorists.

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