The accused pleads guilty to seven counts in the indictment. The rapes and torture of Foca girls are qualified as crimes against humanity in those counts. The prosecution agrees to drop the remaining seven counts in which the same acts are qualified as violations of laws and customs of war. The prosecution recommends 10 to 15 years in prison, and the defense calls for 7 to 10 years. This is the twentieth guilty plea before the ICTY

Dragan Zelenovic pleading guilty for multiple rape and abuse charges where the victims were Bosniak girls in FocaDragan Zelenovic pleading guilty for multiple rape and abuse charges where the victims were Bosniak girls in Foca

Dragan Zelenovic pleaded guilty today to seven counts in the indictment charging him with multiple rapes and torture of Bosniak girls in Foca. The victims are identified in the indictment under pseudonyms FWS 75 and 87. Zelenovic pleaded guilty to co-perpetration and aiding in the torture and rape of several girls held in a number of locations in Foca from July until the end of October 1992. The girls were kept in the local headquarters of the Bosnian Serb army in Buk Bijela, in the Foca high school, in the Partizan sports hall and in an abandoned apartment near a fish restaurant.

Dragan Zelenovic re-entered his plea after the prosecution and defense clarified parts of the Plea Agreement that were confusing, pursuant to an order the Trial Chamber issued yesterday. In the amended version of the agreement, Zelenovic pleads guilty to seven counts in the indictment, where rape and torture are qualified as crimes against humanity. He was charged cumulatively with the same acts as violations of laws and customs of war, but the prosecution dropped the charges after the accused pleaded guilty.

In the time relevant for the indictment – from April 1992 until June 1993 – Dragan Zelenovic was a sub-commander in the Bosnian Serb military police and a paramilitary leader in Foca. After the attack on Foca and the armed resistance offered by the villagers of Trosanj and Mjesaji, on 3 July 1992 the Bosnian Serbs captured about 60 women, children and the elderly. They took the prisoners to Buk Bijela in order to learn where the men from their villages were hiding. Dragan Zelenovic admitted that on that day he had questioned the two women, identified as witnesses 75 and 87. Accusing the women of lying, the Serbs soldiers and police officers raped both women. The first one lost consciousness after she was raped by ten unidentified soldiers and the other – only fifteen years old at the time – ended up raped by Zelenovic.

Zelenovic admitted to raping the two women repeatedly and in various locations. He took them out of the Foca high school where they were until mid-July and then from the Partizan sports hall. On one occasion, as alleged in the indictment, he and four other men gang raped fifteen-year-old witness 87. Because of frequent sexual assaults the girl contemplated suicide throughout her detention.

After the Chamber was satisfied that Zelenovic’s guilty plea was voluntary, unequivocal and informed, and that there was a prima facie case indicating that he did really commit the crimes he was charged with, the Chamber formally found the accused guilty. The parties were ordered to file sentencing briefs within four weeks. The sentencing hearing would be scheduled at that time. In the Plea Agreement, the prosecution asked for 10 to 15 years for Zelenovic, and the defense wanted 7 to 10 years in prison. The recommendations are not binding on the Trial Chamber. The judges warned the accused before he entered his plea that it may sentence him to life imprisonment.

Dragan Zelenovic is the twentieth accused to plead guilty before the Tribunal for the crimes he was indicted for. He is preceded by Drazen Erdemovic, Goran Jelisic, Stevan Todorovic, Dragan Kolundzija, Dusko Sikirica, Damir Dosen, Milan Simic, Biljana Plavsic, Momir Nikolic, Dragan Obrenovic, Predrag Banovic, Darko Mrdja, Miodrag Jokic, Dragan Nikolic, Miroslav Deronjic, Ranko Cesic, Milan Babic, Miroslav Bralo and Ivica Rajic.