ICTY: Zupljanin to enter plea in thirty days
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During his first appearance before the Tribunal at The Hague, Stojan Zupljanin was not able to enter his plea, claiming that he had not received or read the indictment, which charges him with crimes in the Bosanska Krajina area.
The next plea hearing will be scheduled within the next 30 days.
Acting on an international warrant, issued nine years ago, the Serbia’s Interior Ministry arrested Zupljanin in an apartment in Pancevo on June 11, 2008. When asked to provide the Trial Chamber with his personal data, Zupljanin said that his last place of residence was in Banja Luka.
Zupljanin is charged, on the basis of his individual and command responsibility, with the murder, cruel and inhumane treatment, establishing and maintaining inhumane life conditions, forcible resettlement, demolition of religious buildings, extermination, torture among other crimes.
“He is also charged with having planned, abetted, supported and committed crimes mentioned in the indictment and participated in a joint criminal enterprise, with an aim to remove or permanently exterminate Bosnian Muslims and Croats on the territories, which were planned to be included in a Serbian state,” the indictment resume alleges.
The indictment alleges that, at that time Zupljanin was commander of the Regional Security Services Centre in Banja Luka, member of the Crisis Committee of the Autonomous Region of Krajina and, as of 1994, an internal affairs advisor to the Republika Srpska President.
Addressing the Court in the course of the first hearing, Zupljanin said he wanted his “brothers,” – the three remaining ICTY fugitives – Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic – “to remain at liberty forever.”
“When the first group of indictees surrendered, we were exposed to a huge pressure. We were endlessly satanized. Our life at liberty was becoming more and more difficult. I was then told that the Serbian democratic authorities decided that it was in the best interest of the Republic of Serbia and Republika Srpska to kill the four of us. A secret operation, which was supposed to lead to our execution, commenced. And, this meant that the suffering started. Compared to what I lived through, prison seemed like something nice,” Zupljanin said.
The indictee said that taking the name of Branislav Vukadin was “the only hope” that he would not be taken out of the Serbian detention unit one night and “executed.” Following the arrest, he misrepresented himself as Branislav Vukadin and presented personal documents issued under that name.
“I wished I could be taken to The Hague as soon as possible. So, here I am now and here you are. I am telling you this just like Karadjordje Petrovic told the Turks in the course of the First Serbian Rebellion. Concerning my brothers, who are still at liberty, I wish they were alive, but I am afraid that they are not. I wish them good health and long life at liberty,” Zupljanin said.
Zupljanin was one of the four remaining fugitives, sought by the Tribunal. Besides him, the list includes wartime Bosnian Serb military and political leaders, Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic respectively and Goran Hadzic, who is charged with crimes in Croatia during the 1991-1995 war.