Sreten Lukic

31.05.2016 ( Last modified: 31.01.2017 )
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Army General Sreten Lukic was born on 28 March 1955 in the municipality of Visegrad in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On 1 June 1998, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Serb Interior Ministry in charge of Kosovo-Metojiha (“Headquarters of MUP”). He held this position during the war, which had been declared on 24 March 1999.

The original indictment alleged that Sreten Lukic as well as Vladimir Lazarevic, Vlastimir Djordjevic and Nebojsa Pavkovic, planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in preparing certain crimes. According to the indictment Lukic was part of a joint criminal enterprise which had the aim to expel a major part of the Kosovo Albanian civilians from the province in which they were living in order to maintain this province under Serb control.


Throughout Kosovo, according to the indictment, FRY and Serbian forces were alleged to have undertaken a widespread or systematic campaign of destruction of property belonging to Kosovo Albanian civilians. Numerous Kosovo Albanians who had not been directly expelled by force from their community were said to have fled due to the climate of terror which had been created in the region by the widespread and systematic campaign of physical aggression, harassment, sexual violence, illegal arrest, murder, bombing and pillaging.

In his position as Chief of Staff of the MUP in charge of Kosovo from 1 June 1998, Sreten Lukic planned, organised, coordinated and controlled the activities of the MUP in Kosovo, and was responsible for ensuring the protection and security of people and their belongings, for the prevention and investigation of crimes and for ensuring the maintenance of public order. Sreten Lukic, being in a position of hierarchical superior within the MUP, had the duty to make sure that the units of the MUP in Kosovo act in conformity with the laws and regulations of the Federation and of the Republic.

legal procedure

Sreten Lukic was arrested and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 4 April 2005. At his initial court appearance on 6 April 2005, he pleaded “not guilty” of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war with which he was charged.

Based on the indictment, modified on 12 May 2006, Lukic was prosecuted on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility (Art. 7 § 1 ICTY Statute) and on the basis of his criminal responsibility as hierarchical superior (Art. 7 § 3 ICTY Statute) for:

– four counts of crime against humanity (deportation; other inhumane acts (forced transfer); murder; persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds);

– one count of violations of the laws and customs of war (murder).

The trial of Lukic also brought together five other former leading Serb officials: Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, Nebojsa Pavkovic, Vladimir Lazarevic.

The trial began on 10 July 2006. The closing arguments took place between 22 and 27 August 2008.

On 26 February 2009, Sreten Lukic was found guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes and sentenced to 22 years imprisonment.

On 27 May 2009, the Prosecution and the Defence team filed their notices of appeal.

On 23 January 2014, the Appeal chamber mostly confirmed the Trial’s chamber findings but nonetheless reduced Lukic’s sentence to 20 years. It found that Lukic did not have reasons to know about all murders and were not consequently responsible for all of them.

On 4 November 2014, the Regional Court in Warsaw decided that Lukic could serve out his 20-year sentence in a Polish prison. The Prosecution and the Defence team said they would not file an appeal.



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.