The Appeals Chamber has ruled that the defense of the former chief of the MUP Staff for Kosovo Sreten Lukic did not produce any new evidence which would merit a review of the appellate judgment. Lukic was sentenced to 20 years for the crimes against Kosovo Albanians in 1999

Sreten Lukic in the courtroomSreten Lukic in the courtroom

In January 2015, Sreten Lukic’s defense filed a confidential motion for the review of the appellate judgment. The Appeals Chamber sentenced the Serb police general to 20 years in prison for the crimes against Kosovo Albanians in 1999. In another confidential brief, the prosecution opposed the defense motion. The Appeals Chamber headed by Judge Theodor Meron has now denied the motion, ordering both parties to prepare redacted versions of the classified motions which will then be made public.

A motion for review will be granted if the party seeking it is able to demonstrate that new facts or new evidence have come to light since the final judgment or that the Tribunal’s jurisprudence has changed. In his motion, General Lukic listed three such reasons. First, Lukic’s health has deteriorated. Second, new evidence has emerged on the meeting held in Belgrade on 5 January 1999. And finally, Lukic referred to the findings in the appellate judgment of police general Vlastimir Djordjevic, who was sentenced in a separate trial to 18 years in prison for the crimes against Kosovo Albanians. His sentence is also final.

Stressing that Lukic’s health deteriorated, the defense submitted two medical reports from early 2014 in a bid to present them as ‘new facts’. The Appeals Chamber stated that the Serb general’s health problems were a known fact during the trial. In the judges’ view, it would be more appropriate for Lukic to file a motion for early release than a motion for the review of his judgment.

As for the 5 January 1999 meeting, it was held in the White Palace in Belgrade and was attended by Lukic and other top Serb politicians at the time: Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, and military and police generals Ojdanic, Pavkovic, Lazarevic and Djordjevic. According to the defense, it was a ‘benign meeting’ where fight against terrorism was discussed. The participants definitely did not discuss any plans to commit crimes. The ‘new evidence’ from the White Palace shows that Lukic was not the link between the criminal policy designed by Belgrade and the police units on the ground in Kosovo. The Appeals Chamber noted that Lukic’s involvement in the joint criminal enterprise whose goal was to eliminate Kosovo Albanians had been corroborated by ample evidence from other sources. During the trial, the meeting of 5 January 1999 was mentioned at the trial, albeit in the context of the participation of Lukic’s co-accused Sainovic and Pavkovic. Consequently, it cannot be considered a fact that was unknown during the trial.

As Lukic’s defense recalled, Vlastimir Djordjevic’s final judgment rejected the finding that the Kosovo Albanians were deported not only to Macedonia and Albania, but to Montenegro too. There was no sufficient evidence that there was a state border between Kosovo and Montenegro. According to the defense, this is a ‘new fact stemming from new jurisprudence’. The Appeals Chamber noted that Lukic was never indicted for deporting civilians to Montenegro, and the judges dismissed this argument too.

For the time being, the sentence for the former chief of the MUP staff for Kosovo Sreten Lukic remains in place. Soon it will be announced where Sreten Lukic will serve his sentence.