Former commander of the VRS Zvornik Brigade Vinko Pandurevic has been released from the UN Detention Unit, having served approximately three quarters of his sentence. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for the crimes in Srebrenica

Vinko Pandurevic in the courtroomVinko Pandurevic in the courtroom

Two months after he submitted his request for early release, Vinko Pandurevic was released from the UN Detention Unit. He spent ten years and a month in detention, approximately three quarters of the 13 years he was sentenced to in January 2015, in the final judgment for the Srebrenica crimes.

Theodor Meron, the president of the Tribunal and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, signed the decision. In the document, Meron stresses that the factors militating for Pandurevic’s early release were the length of the time served, more than two thirds of the original sentence, and evidence of ‘signs of rehabilitation’.

President Meron further states that in his decision he was guided by Pandurevic’s exemplary behavior in detention and his deep shame for ‘the horrors that were visited upon the

Muslim population of Bosnia and Herzegovina’. In the motion for early release, Pandurevic expressed his regret that he ‘could not have done more to prevent the terrible events’ and his awareness of his ‘culpability’. He also offered his ‘profound apologies’ to the victims and their families.

President Meron admits that the gravity of the crimes Pandurevic was convicted of militates against his early release. On the other hand, his lack of cooperation with the prosecution is a neutral factor, which does not have any bearing on determining whether to grant him early release, in Judge Meron’s opinion.

The prosecution was critical of Pandurevic’s unwillingness to cooperate with them, and Pandurevic responded to their criticism by recalling that while he had not pleaded guilty and had not agreed to testify for the prosecution, he had testified in his defense and thus ‘exposed myself to the cross-examination by the prosecution on all events relevant for the indictment and for broader issues’.

Finally, President Meron notes in his decision that ‘two of the three remaining judges of the sentencing Chamber of the Mechanism agree that Pandurevic should be granted early release’; one judge was against.

Vinko Pandurevic was convicted on the basis of command and individual responsibility for murders, extermination and persecution in Srebrenica in July 1995. His crimes were qualified as crimes against humanity and violations of laws and customs of war.