Dragomir Milosevic

20.04.2016 ( Last modified: 10.06.2016 )
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Dragomir Milosevic was born on 4 February 1942, in the village of Murgas, Ub Municipality, Serbia. He was an officer in the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army ) before the armed conflict, having served as Chief of Staff of the 4th Corps, 2nd Military District, and more specifically of the 49th Motorized Brigade at Lukavica, a suburb south west of Sarajevo.

Shortly after Bosnia and Herzegovina was internationally recognised as an independent state on 06 April 1992, armed hostilities broke out in Sarajevo. Armed forces supporting the SDS (Serbian Democratic Party) and elements of the JNA, including units of the 4th Corps of the 2nd Military District, occupied strategic positions in and around Sarajevo. The city was subsequently subjected to blockade and relentless bombardment and sniper attacks from these positions. On or around 20 May 1992, after a partial withdrawal of JNA forces from Bosnia, the 4th Corps of the 2nd Military District became the Sarajevo Romanija Corps, with its headquarters in the Lukavica Barracks. The Corps formed a significant part of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS – “Vojska Republika Srpska”), placed under the ultimate command of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic (see “related cases”).

The Commander of the Romanija Corps was General Stanislav Galic (see “related cases”). From around March 1993, Dragomir Milosevic served as Chief of Staff to Stanislav Galic whom he succeeded as Corps Commander of the Sarajevo Romanija Corps on or about 10 August 1994, which appointment he held for the duration of the armed conflict. Dragomir Milosevic had authority over 18 000 military personnel, formed into 10 brigades.

For forty-four months, the Sarajevo Romanija Corps implemented a military strategy which used shelling and sniping to kill, maim, wound and terrorise the civilian inhabitants of Sarajevo. From April 1995, large fragmentation bombs were used. The shelling and sniping killed and wounded thousands of civilians of both sexes and all ages, including children and the elderly.

The Sarajevo Romanija Corps directed shelling and sniping at civilians who were tending vegetable plots, queuing for bread, collecting water, attending funerals, shopping in markets, riding on trams, gathering wood, or simply walking with their children or friends. People were even injured and killed inside their own homes, being hit by bullets that came through the windows. The attacks on Sarajevo civilians were often unrelated to military actions and were designed to keep the inhabitants in a constant state of terror. The destruction of many buildings of historical, cultural and symbolic significance (e.g. the destruction of the national library in a fire) was part of the same strategy of terror.

Dragomir Milosevic, who had been in hiding since the end of the war, has surrendered to the Serb authorities and was transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 3 December 2004.

legal procedure

The act of indictment against Dragomir Milosevic was handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 24 April 1998. It remained partially confidential until 2 November 2001.

Dragomir Milosevic is charged on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility (Art. 7 (1) Statute of the ICTY) and his criminal responsibility as a person in superior authority (Art. 7 (3) Statute).

Eight charges were brought against him by the Prosecutor, namely:
– infliction of terror, with the campaign of shelling and sniping upon civilian areas of Sarajevo and upon the civilian population (violations of the Laws or Customs of War punishable under Article 3 of the Statute of the Tribunal)
– murder and other inhumane acts (crimes against humanity under art. 5 (a) and (i) of the Statute of the Tribunal)
– attacks upon civilians (violations of the Laws or Customs of War punishable under Article 3 of the Statute of the Tribunal).

HIs trial has not yet started.

The ICTY Prosecutor has requested a Trial Chamber to refer the case of Dragomir Milosevic to the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be judged there, pursuant to Rule 11bis of the Tribunal. The ICTY denied this motion for referral in July 2005.

Dragomir Milosevic’s trial before the ICTY began on 11 January 2007.

On 12 December 2007 Milosevic was found guilty of crimes against humanity and of a violation of the laws or customs of war. He was convicted on five counts of terror, murder and inhumane acts conducted during a campaign of sniping and shelling which resulted in the injury and death of a great number of civilians in the besieged Bosnian capital. Two counts of unlawful attacks against civilians were dismissed.

The ICTY- Trial Chamber sentenced him to 33 years’ imprisonment.

Milosevic appealed against the judgement. The appeals hearings took place on 21 July 2009.

On 12 November 2009, the Appeals Chamber partially upheld the Trial Chamber’s findings. The Appeals Chamber also granted Milošević’s appeal in part and reduced his sentence from 33 to 29 years’ imprisonment. The Prosecution’s sole ground appeal requesting that Milošević be sentenced to life imprisonment was dismissed in its entirety.

On 14 February 2011, the President of the Tribunal issued his decision, designating Estonia as the State in which Milošević is to serve his sentence. Milošević is the second convicted person to be transferred to Estonia. Milan Martić (see “related cases”), former wartime political leader of Croatian Serbs, was transferred on 26 June 2009.



The conflict in former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1999, shocked international public opinion because of the abuses revealed by the press, which were committed by all parties to the conflict (massacres, forced displacements of population, concentration camps …). The conflict is considered to consist of several separate conflicts, which were ethnic in nature – the war in Slovenia (1991), the war in Croatia (1991-1995), the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995) and the war Kosovo (1998-1999), which also involved the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

The conflicts accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia, when the constituent republics declared their independence. The wars mostly ended after peace accords were signed, and new republics were given full international recognition of their statehood.

In order to restore peace and security in the region, the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of UN Charter, created on 25 May 1993, by Resolution 827, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It was determined that pursuant to numerous reports of, among other, mass killings, systematic detention, rapes, practice of “ethnic cleansing”, transfers, etc., these acts constituted a threat to international peace and security, necessitating a reaction by Security Council. As the Tribunal was created during the ongoing conflict, the Security Council expressed its hopes that ICTY would contribute to halting violations in the region. Its headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Tribunal has jurisdiction to prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law – grave breaches of Geneva Conventions, violations of laws and customs of war, genocide and crimes against humanity – allegedly committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia after 1 January 1991, (no end date was specified). Since its creation, the ICTY has indicted more than 160 people, including heads of states and government members.

The Tribunal’s mandate was originally meant to expire on 31 December 2009, but the Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the Court with several judges, including permanent judges, so that the ongoing trials can be completed. According to the “ICTY Completion Strategy Report” from 18 May 2011, all trials were supposed to be completed by the end of 2012, and all the appeals by the end of 2015. The exceptions were cases of Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.

The Security Council adopted resolution 1966 on 22 December 2010, establishing International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The ICTY residual mechanism began functioning on 1 July 2013.

The Tribunal was called to finish its work by the end of 2014, in order to prepare closure and transfer of cases to the Residual Mechanism. The Mechanism is a small and temporary body, which plays important role in ensuring that the completion strategy of ICTY does not result in impunity of fugitives and in injustice. It is conducting all outstanding first instance trials, including those of Karadzic, Mladic and Hadzic. It is also to complete all appeals proceedings that were filed before 1 July 2013.

The ICTY is not the only court with jurisdiction to try alleged perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal has concurrent jurisdiction with national courts. However, it takes precedence over them and may require the referral from the national court at any stage of the proceedings (Article 9 of the ICTY Statute). The Statute does not elaborate how the primacy is to be exercised, but it was asserted by the judges of the ICTY in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The primacy can be asserted in three cases: when an international crime is intentionally or unwittingly prosecuted before national court as an “ordinary criminal offence”, when a national court is unreliable, or when the case is closely related, or may be relevant to other cases being tried by the ICTY.


National courts also have jurisdiction to prosecute alleged perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law.

In the former Yugoslavia, the trials of those accused of war crimes have been opened by the courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Section for War Crimes was set up in the Criminal and Appellate Divisions of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Special Chamber for War Crimes has jurisdiction to prosecute the most serious alleged war crimes committed in Bosnia, and was created to relieve the ICTY, so that it can focus on criminals of high rank. Its establishment was also considered necessary for effective war crimes prosecution in Bosnia. The opening of the Special Chamber was on 9 March 2005.

Additionally, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from 10 June 1999, UN administration was created in Kosovo. Consequently, in 2000 “Regulation 64” Panels in Courts of Kosovo were created, which are mixed chambers at the local courts. They have two international judges and one national. These panels work in collaboration with the ICTY. They have jurisdiction over those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. They focus on prosecuting lower ranking offenders.

In Serbia, the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor was established on 1 July 2003. It was created to detect and prosecute perpetrators of criminal offenses against humanity and international law, and offences recognised by the ICTY Statute, regardless of the nationality, citizenship, race or religion of the perpetrator and the victim, as long as the acts were committed on the territory of former Yugoslavia after 1 January 1991. Its seat is in Belgrade, Serbia.

Other relevant national jurisdictions are under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows states with a specific legal basis, to try perpetrators of serious crimes regardless of their nationality or that of the victims and regardless of where the crime was committed.