Marko Boškić was born in Tuzla on 9 July 1964. Unlike most members of VRS he is an ethnic Croat, the son of a coal miner in a mountain village near the city of Tuzla. He told friends he attended a construction trade school as a youth.
When war came in 1992, he joined a local unit – the 115th Brigade – of the Bosnian Croat militia (HVO). The Croats were a minority around Tuzla and the brigade did little fighting, but guarded the line between the Muslim-dominated city and surrounding Serb-ruled areas. In 1993, pressed by the Bosnian government to submit to its command, the 115th Brigade instead dissolved itself and many of its soldiers joined the Republika Srpska Army (VRS). Boškić and another Croat, Drazen Erdemovic, became members of 10th Reconnaissance Detachment.
Boškić allegedly participated, together with seven other members of the same squad, in the “summary execution” of several hundred captured Bosniaks at the Branjevo military farm in Pilica village on 16 July 1995. That day, the Bosnian Serb Army took an estimated 1,200 Muslim men and boys in buses from Srebrenica to a farm where the gunmen lined them up in the fields, group after group, and shot them dead.
After the war Drazen Erdemovic pleaded guilty at the United Nations war crimes tribunal at The Hague and testified that he was one of the eight men sent to the Branjevo collective farm to receive approximately 20 busloads of Muslim men and boys sent from Srebrenica on 16 July 1995. He said his squad led men off the buses and stood them in groups of about 10, facing away from the gunmen, before shooting them dead. He named seven fellow executioners, including Marko Boškić.
On 26 April 2000, Boskic entered the United States after allegedly lying in writing and in person to immigration officials about his military service in VRS. He received refugee status and settled in Peabody, Massachusetts where he was working as a tile-setter.
Boskic was arrested on 25 August 2004 as a result of a transnational investigation in cooperation with ICTY that provided the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (ICE) with a video of the 10th Reconnaissance Detachment at an awards ceremony in the fall of 1995 in which Boskic is in uniform and holding a rifle. In November 2006, Boškić was sentenced to 63 months in a U.S. prison for two counts of immigration fraud. The U.S. ICE Office of the Chief Counsel in Boston initiated deportation proceedings and an immigration judge ordered Boškić’s removal to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 18 February 2010.
The U.S. ICE office carried out the deportation of suspected human rights violator Marko Boskic to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 27 April. He was turned over to authorities in Sarajevo to face war crimes charges and was ordered into custody on the charges of crimes against humanity.
After deportation to Bosnia and Herzegovina Marko Boškić concluded a Plea Agreement admitting his participation in the criminal offense of Crimes against Humanity under Article 172 in relation to subparagraph (a) of the same article of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as stated in the Indictment of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina dated 5 July 2010.
After deportation to Bosnia and Herzegovina Marko Boškić concluded a Plea Agreement admitting his participation in the criminal offense of Crimes against Humanity under Article 172 in relation to subparagraph (a) of the same article of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as stated in the Indictment of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina dated 5 July 2010. According to the terms of the Agreement, the Prosecutor petitioned the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to impose on the accused a prison sentence ranging between five and ten years.
On 9 July 2010, the Court confirmed the Indictment charging the accused Boškić with the crimes against humanity. According to the charge sheet, on 16 July 1995, in the period between 10.00 and 15.00 hrs, Boškić summarily executed several hundred Bosniac male detainees from the Srebrenica enclave, some of whom were blindfolded and who had been previously detained in the Elementary School in Pilica wherefrom they were taken by bus to the execution site at the Branjevo Farm in the village of Pilica, Zvornik Municipality, with only two detainees surviving the executions. Boškić participated in the execution together with seven other members of the 10th Reconnaissance Detachment, acting on orders from Dragomir Pećanac and Milorad Pelemiš.
On 19 July 2010, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, having considered and accepted the plea agreement concluded between the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the accused Marko Boškić, delivered a verdict finding the accused Marko Boškić guilty of the crimes against humanity:
– Depriving another person of his life (murder) as a crime against humanity ( Article 172 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina)
– Persecutions against any identifiable group or collective on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or sexual gender or other grounds that are universally recognised as impermissible under international law (Article 172 (1) (h) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Marko Boškić has been found guilty individually (Article 180 (1) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina), as a member of the 10th Sabotage Detachment, and as part of a joint criminal enterprise with the VRS Main Staff (Article 29) persecuting Bosniac civilian population on political, national, ethnic, cultural and religious grounds, depriving others of their lives in the period between 10 July and 1 November 1995.
The Court sentenced the accused Marko Boškić to ten years’ imprisonment.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
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.