Vlajko Stojiljkovic

08.05.2016 ( Last modified: 07.06.2016 )
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Vlajko Stojiljkovic was born in 1937 in Mala Krsna in Serbia. A law graduate from the University of Belgrade, Vlajko Stojiljkovic became Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of Serbia in April 1997. On 24 March 1998, the Serb National Assembly elected a new government with Vlajko Stojiljkovic as Interior Minister, a post which he held during the entire period covered by the allegations.

The accusation alleged that, following the commencement of a joint criminal enterprise, beginning on or about 1 January 1999 and continuing until 20 June 1999, Vlajko Stojiljkovic Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, (see “related cases”) and others planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in a deliberate and widespread or systematic campaign of terror and violence directed at Kosovo Albanian civilians living in Kosovo in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). Forces of the FRY and Serbia, in a deliberate and widespread or systematic manner, forcibly expelled and internally displaced hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians from their homes across the entire province of Kosovo. It is further alleged that forces of the FRY and Serbia committed widespread or systematic acts of brutality and violence and destruction of property against Kosovo Albanian civilians in order to perpetuate a climate of fear, create chaos and a pervading fear for life.

According to the indictment, around 800,000 Albanian civilians from Kosovo were deported from the region. In addition, Serbian forces were also said to have specifically perpetrated massacres in places such as Dakovica, Velika Krusa, Padaliste, Izbica, Vucitrn, the prison compound in Dubrava…

In his role as Interior Minister of Serbia (MUP), Vlajko Stojiljkovic was responsible for maintaining public order in Serbia. He oversaw the activities of MUP and its personnel. He defined the structure the mission and the scope of operations of the MUP administration. He had the power, in time of peace, to call up members of the MUP reserve corps and to put a stop to any activities which might put in danger the security of Serbia. Orders issued by him, or by top civil servants in the MUP, to the personnel of this Ministry had binding force excepting only if they constituted a criminal offence. He had also the power to modify any decisions and actions taken by MUP employees. He made the final decision on any appeals lodged against the preliminary decisions taken by MUP department heads. Moreover he had the authority to pass judgement on appeals filed by people being held in police detention.

On 24 May 1999, he was charged with crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war, by the Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia).

legal procedure

On 24 May 1999 the Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia) issued an indictment against Vlajko Stojiljkovic.

Based on the indictment, Vlajko Stojiljkovic 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 (Art. 5 ICTY Statute – deportation; other inhumane acts (forced transfer); murder; persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds);
– one count of violations of the laws or customs of war (Art. 3 ICTY Statute – murder).

Vlajko Stojiljkovic shot himself in the head on 11 April 2002 in Belgrade, following the adoption by the Yugoslav Parliament of a law of cooperation with the ICTY. He died on 13 April as a result of his wounds.



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.