ZELENOVIC DENIED EARLY RELEASE
Former member of the Bosnian Serb military police Dragan Zelenovic filed a motion for early release after he has served one third of his 15-year prison sentence. Zelenovic pleaded guilty to rape and torture of Bosniak women and girls in the Foca area in 1992
The Tribunal’s president Patrick Robinson rejected the motion of Dragan Zelenovic, former deputy commander of the Bosnian Serb military police, for early release. Zelenovic has served five years, one third of his 15-year prison sentence. In January 2007, Zelenovic pleaded guilty to seven counts in the indictment for torture and rape of Bosniak women and girls in the Foca area in 1992. In April 2007, the Trial Chamber found him guilty of nine instances of rape and of being a co-perpetrator in two other rapes. The Appeals Chamber confirmed the judgment.
Under the Belgian law, the accused has the right to seek early release after serving one-third of the sentence. Judge Robinson notes that the standard practice of the Tribunal is to consider motions for early release after two-thirds of the sentence have been served. In Zelenovic’s case that will be on 21 August 2015.
The ICTY President also noted that Zelenovic’s crimes were of a ‘high gravity’ and ‘part of a pattern of sexual assault’. The decision quotes parts of the Trial Chamber’s judgment in which the ‘vulnerability of the victims’, detained in ‘brutal conditions’ was highlighted as a particularly aggravating circumstance. Bosniak women and girls suffered ‘unspeakable pain and humiliation’ and ‘physical and psychological trauma’ whose ‘scars might never heal’. This, the Trial Chamber found, ‘perhaps more than anything’ speaks about the gravity of Zelenovic’s crimes.
Based on the report on the behavior of the accused in prison, the President notes that Zelenovic is integrated in his environment and is working in the prison workshop. According to the report, Zelenovic was a ‘calm detainee who respects the rules, prison staff and his peers’. Judge Robinson adds that Zelenovic has kept up a steady correspondence with his wife and that an ‘Orthodox chaplain’ visits him in prison. Zelenovic hopes to spend a possible prison leave during the upcoming Orthodox New Year’ at the priest’s home. According to the ICTY President, Zelenovic has demonstrated ‘some rehabilitation’ but is ‘ambivalent’ toward his crimes. Zelenovic has cooperated to a degree with the Office of the Prosecutor, the ICTY president notes.
Having considered all those factors, the President of the Tribunal decided that Zelenovic’s motion for early release should be denied.