The Hague Tribunal has upheld the verdict under which Milan Lukic was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad.The Appeals Chamber of the Hague Tribunal has upheld the first instance verdict which sentenced Milan Lukic to life imprisonment and partly accepted the appeal of his cousin, Sredoje Lukic, and reduced his sentence from 30 to 27 years.
The Lukic cousins were found guilty in July 2009 of taking part in murders, extermination and expulsion of Bosniaks civilians in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad in 1992 and 1993.
Milan Lukic, the leader of the Serb paramilitary unit “White Eagles”, was responsible for two of the most notorious massacres in 1992 when 120 women, children and elderly in the Pionirska street and the neighbourhood of Bikavac in Visegrad were burned alive on June 14 and 27.
In 2009, when passing the first instance verdict, the presiding judge at the time, Patrick Robinson, described the burning of over 50 civilians in a house in Pionirska Street and then at least 60 civilians in the Bikavac neighbourhood as the “worst acts of inhumanity“.
“They rank high in the long, sad and wretched history of man’s inhumanity to man“, said Judge Robinson.
On Tuesday, the presiding judge of the Appeal Chamber, Mehmet Guney, explained that all Milan Lukic’s appeals were rejected, except in one sub count.
The Appeals Chamber ruled that the number of victims who were burned alive in a house in the Pionirska street was 53 and not 59, as was stated in the first instance verdict.
“The Trial Chamber did not make a mistake in determining that the incidents in Pionirska Street and Bikavac contain the elements needed for the criminal act of extermination,” said Judge Guney.
The parts of verdict which found Milan Lukic guilty of killing 12 civilians on the banks of the Drina river in June 1992 and abusing prisoners in the Uzamnica detention camp were also upheld.
The Appeals Chamber found Sredoje Lukic not guilty of abusing prisoners in the Uzmanica camp in 1992 and 1993 and reduced his sentence from 30 year imprisonment to 27.
Sredoje Lukic, a police officer who also was a member of the White Eagles, is guilty of taking part in the burnings in the Pionirska Street.
According to the ICTY verdicts, in spring 1992, after the Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, left the area of Visegrad, Serbian and Bosnian Serb paramilitary formations moved in, killing and abusing non-Serb population.
“ These attacks were done by paramilitary groups acting in Visegrad with the help of the Bosnian Serb authorities. The number of random attacks and disappearances reached its heights in May and June 1992,” said the Trial Chamber in the 2009 verdict against the Lukic cousins.
The indictment against the Lukic cousins was raised in 1998, but they were both arrested only in 2005. Their trial started in July 2008 and ended a year later.