At the appellate hearing in the Milomir Stakic case, the prosecutor claims the former president of the Prijedor Crisis Staff had genocidal intent. The genocidal means served the end of creating a “Serb municipality” in Prijedor, the prosecutor contends

Milomir Stakic in the courtroomMilomir Stakic in the courtroom

The prosecutors claim that Milomir Stakic and other members of the Prijedor Crisis Staff “had the intent” to destroy – in part or in whole – the non-Serb population in the municipality. In their appeal, they seek that the former president of the Prijedor municipality and of the Crisis Staff be found guilty of genocide. In the judgment delivered by the Trial Chamber, Stakic was acquitted of the charges of genocide, but was sentenced to life in prison for persecutions, extermination and murder.

On the first of the three days allotted for the hearing on the appeals lodged by the prosecution and defense in the Stakic case, prosecutor Mark McEwan said that the Trial Chamber had erred when it concluded that “there is no evidence” that the proclaimed end of the establishment of a Serb municipality was to be achieved through partial destruction of other ethnic groups. “The means used to achieve that end were acts of genocide,” McEwan argues.

About 3,000 Bosniaks and Croats were killed in 1992 in that area, the prosecutor reminded, adding that the charges of genocide do not hinge on the number of victims but on the intent of the perpetrators (to destroy a group in part or in whole).

The prosecutors also argue that the “non-Serb” population as a whole can be considered to have been the victim of genocide, although the Trial Chamber in its judgment delivered in July 1993 rejected this definition as being too broad.

The appellate hearing today began with the testimony of a protected witness, called by the Appeals Chamber. The witness had given a statement to the Office of the Prosecutor, and the defense included in its appellate brief a part of that statement that goes in its favor. But, because the defense failed to call the witness, the judges did. The witness was heard in closed session today.

Stakic’s defense will present its arguments tomorrow. Among other things, the defense claims the trial was not fair and discusses the issue of the life sentence imposed on the former president of the Prijedor Crisis Staff, the only such sentence in the history of the ICTY so far.