The idea behind the Krajisnik judgment

09 October 2006 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

On September 27, sixty-one year old Momcilo Krajisnik, president of the Assembly of Bosnian Serbs from 1991-1995, was sentenced to 27 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity. He was acquitted on the charge of genocide. Would the judges have ruled differently if his indictment had covered the Srebrenica massacre - a crime that has led to the only two genocide convictions before the ICTY?

Both in their analysis of the genocidal intent and in their description of the joint criminal enterprise formed by the Bosnian Serb leadership, the judges in the Krajisnik case adopted a "strictly empirical approach" as they called it. Since the underlying crimes of deportation, extermination, murder, sexual assault, unlawful detention and more had already been established, there was only one evidentiary hurdle to proving genocide: the intent to destroy a group in whole or in part. In looking at the documents, speeches and witness statements, the Chamber concluded that there was a common objective among the Bosnian-Serb leadership, which included Radovan Karadzic, Biljana Plavsic, Nikola Koljevic, Momcilo Krajisnik and others. According to the judgment, Krajisnik, though not an official member of the Bosnia-Serb presidency was a de facto member by virtue of having attended all the meetings, but one. Though not a man of many words, Krajisnik clearly stated the objective of the joint criminal enterprise: "to implement what we have agreed upon - ethnic division in the field".

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