Finding that his participation in the Dubrovnik operation of the former JNA was “peripheral”, and was “mostly effected through omissions”, the Trial Chamber sentenced admiral Miodrag Jokic to 7 years in prison.

Miodrag Jokic in the courtroomMiodrag Jokic in the courtroom

Retired vice admiral Miodrag Jokic, former commander of the 9th Naval Sector of the Yugoslav Navy, was sentenced today to seven years in prison for the shelling of the Old Town of Dubrovnik on 6 December 1991. Last August, Jokic pleaded guilty to all six counts of the indictment charging him with violations of laws and customs of war. The prosecution proposed a sentence of ten years and the defence proposed only two years in prison.

In the words of the Presiding Judge Alphonsus Orie, the participation of admiral Jokic in the events covered by the indictment was "peripheral and was mostly effected through omissions." “The crimes were committed by soldiers under his command although, as the Prosecution submitted, the crimes were not ordered by Jokic”, the judge said. However, “Jokic had knowledge of the unlawful shelling from the early morning of 6 December 1991 and failed to take the necessary measures to prevent or stop the shelling”. He also never took any measures to identify and punish the subordinates responsible for the unlawful attacks on the buildings which are part of the world cultural heritage, protected by UNESCO.

The rank of admiral and the leadership position of the accused in the military chain of command were considered to be aggravating circumstances for Jokic, because “by virtues of his position he had considerable power and authority”. His conduct before the shelling, the judgment concludes, can be qualified as aiding and abetting the crimes, “since it had a substantial effect on the commission of the crimes on that day”.

Jokic was convicted of unlawful attack on civilians, murder of two and wounding of three persons, devastation not justified by military necessity and destruction or wilful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, arts and science, historic monuments and works of art and science.

“The shelling attack on the Old Town was an attack not only against the history and heritage of the region, but also against the cultural heritage of the whole humankind” – Judge Orie stressed as the sentence was read out.

The judges accepted as mitigating circumstances his voluntary surrender to the Tribunal, his guilty plea, cooperation with the prosecutor and regret in relation to the shelling “not merely when he faced charges before a court of law, but already on 6 December 1991.”

Jokic surrendered to the Tribunal in November 2001, but was provisionally released a few months later. Thus he has spent only 116 days in the UN Detention Unit. This time will be credited to his sentence.

The trial of General Pavle Strugar, also accused of the shelling of the Old Town on 6 December 1991 is also underway in The Hague. Admiral Jokic is expected to testify at his trial.

Miodrag Jokic in the courtroom
Miodrag Jokic in the courtroom