Bosnia: Joint trial of two paramilitaries at Hague war crimes tribunal

New York, 24 July (AKI) - The United Nations' Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has decided that, in the interest of justice, two Bosnian Serb paramilitaries charged with multiple crimes – cousins whose cases are lalso very closely related – will be tried jointly, revoking a previous referral of one case to a local court.

The tribunal last Friday decided to revoke the referral of case of Sredoje Lukic case to Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus clearing the way for Lukic to be tried jointly in The Hague with his compatriot Milan Lukic. The later would be “perhaps the most significant paramilitary leader tried by the tribunal to date,” according to a press release from the court.

In deciding to try the two men jointly, the UN's Internatioanl Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia referral bench noted that “separate trials would have risked increasing the trauma for witnesses, who would have had to testify twice.”

According to the indictment, Milan Lukic was the leader of the “White Eagles” or “Avengers.” The court said the group comprised Bosnian Serb paramilitaries in Visegrad who worked with local police and military units in “exacting a reign of terror” on the local Bosnian Muslim population during the 1992-1995 conflict.

Sredoje Lukic, Milan Lukic's cousin, was a member of the unit.

Both men are charged with multiple crimes, including the murder of several dozen Bosnian Muslim women, children and elderly men in and around the town of Visegrad.

The tribunal, which is due to wind up its docket by 2009, has to date referred a total of eight cases involving 13 persons to courts in the former Yugoslavia, mostly to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Meanwhile, as part of an ongoing court project, the court on Monday announced the donation of some 300 computers and related equipment to the Kosovo ministry of education, science and technology, for distribution to schools throughout the province.


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