By Erna Mackic
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has sentenced Momcilo Perisic, formerly a general with the Yugoslav Army, VJ, to 27 years in prison for crimes committed in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Zagreb.
Under the first instance verdict pronounced by the ICTY, Perisic, who was Chief of the VJ General Staff from August 1993 until November 1998, was found guilty of having “assisted in and supported” crimes committed by the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, in Sarajevo and Srebrenica.
“The Trial Chamber has determined that Perisic oversaw the Yugoslav Army’s provision of extensive logistical assistance, which included vast quantities of infantry ammunition, training and technical support to VRS forces. For instance, the General Staff of VRS estimated that it had received 25 millions of bullets and 75 thousands of grenades from the VJ in 1994,” Trial Chamber Chairman Bakone Justice Moloto said.
The Trial Chamber determined that from September 1992 to November 1995 the VRS implemented a long-lasting shelling and sniping campaign in Sarajevo. It further said that Perisic had regularly abetted the campaign that resulted in the death of several hundreds of civilians by continuing to send vast quantities of assistance.
Momcilo Perisic was brought to ICTY in March 2005. His trial began in early October 2008. The explanation of the first instance verdict says that the support provided by the Yugoslav Army was crucial for military operations conducted by VRS, because the VRS material resources had nearly been depleted.
The ICTY is of the opinion that Perisic formed the 30th Personnel Centre, which he used for paying salaries and offering other services of VJ officers, who served in the VRS.
“The Chamber considers that Perisic was alerted to the fact that the VRS was committing crimes in Sarajevo, or more precisely the murders of and attacks against civilians. Most of the judges deem that, even prior to the Srebrenica happenings, Perisic was receiving information concerning the VRS criminal behaviour against civilians and knew that an attack was being prepared.
Perisic knew that it was highly probable that the VRS would commit killings and other crimes once Srebrenica had fallen under its control,” the verdict said.
In evaluating the sentence against Perisic, the ICTY judges took the fact that VRS’ crimes lasted over a long period of time and that the victims were numerous and vulnerable into consideration as aggravating circumstances. “You kept providing assistance for months after being informed about the horrible crimes committed in Srebrenica,” Judge Bakone Justice Moloto said.
The Hague Tribunal acquitted Perisic of charges contained in count number 13, which charged him with having participated in the extermination of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, saying that he “could not have known that VRS forces would undertake the mass and systematic murder of civilians” in July 1995.
The ICTY Chamber did not find that Perisic had a command responsibility over the VRS forces. Hence, it acquitted him of the charges that he failed to prevent or punish the persons who committed crimes in Sarajevo.
Perisic was found guilty of having supported the shelling of Zagreb in May 1995. The parties have the right to file appeals with the Appellate Chamber of ICTY.