Hague Acquits Yugoslav General Perisic of War Crimes

The Hague Tribunal acquitted Yugoslav Army general Momcilo Perisic on appeal, quashing his 27-year prison sentence for war crimes during the 1990s conflict.The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ruled on Thursday that Perisic was not responsible for the wartime crimes committed by the Bosnian Serb Army in Sarajevo and Srebrenica because it was not under the command of the Yugoslav Army.

The appeals chamber also found him not guilty of failing to punish his subordinates who participated in the shelling of the Croatian capital Zagreb.

Perisic, chief of the general staff of the Yugoslav Army from 1993 to 1998, was convicted at The Hague in September 2011 of “aiding and abetting a military campaign of artillery and mortar shelling and sniping on civilian areas of Sarajevo andon its civilian population, killing and wounding thousands of civilians”.

According to the first instance verdict, he also “failed to take necessary and reasonable steps to punish his subordinates for the shelling of civilian areas in the city of Zagreb on May 2 and 3, 1995, which resulted in the death and wounding of civilians”.

He was further held responsible for aiding and abetting crimes against the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica in 1995, when more than 7,000 people were killed.

But presiding judge Theodor Meron said it had not been established beyond reasonable doubt that Perisic was responsible for “acts specifically directed to assist, encourage or lend moral support to the perpetration of certain specific crime[s]” by Bosnian Serb forces.

Meron said that the Bosnian Serb and Yugoslav armies were based in two different locations and the initial trial had not seen “any evidence that Perisic was physically present when relevant criminal acts were planned or committed”.

The Tribunal ordered Perisic’s immediate release.

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