Momčilo Krajišnik

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This article is about former politician in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For other uses, see Krajišnik (disambiguation).
Momčilo Krajišnik
Momcilo Krajisnik crop.jpeg
Krajišnik at negotiations with IFOR in 1996
1st Serb member of the
Bosnian-Herzegovinian Presidency
In office
14 March 1996 – 13 October 1998
Succeeded by Živko Radišić
Personal details
Born (1945-01-20) 20 January 1945 (age 69)
Political party Serbian Democratic Party
Religion Serbian Orthodox

Momčilo Krajišnik[pronunciation?] (Serbian Cyrillic: Момчило Крајишник) (born 20 January 1945) is a Bosnian Serb former politician convicted of murder and other crimes against humanity during the Bosnian War.

He co-founded the Bosnian Serb nationalist Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) with Radovan Karadžić[1] and between 1990 and 1992, he was the speaker of the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska and, between June and December 1992, a member of the expanded Presidency of the Bosnian Serb Republic.

After the Bosnian War, he became the Serb representative on the three-member Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1996 through 1998. He lost his bid for re-election in 1998 to Živko Radišić. In 2006, he was found guilty of committing crimes against humanity during the Bosnian War by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and was sentenced to 20 years' improsonment.[2] He was granted early release from prison, which he left on 1 September 2013, and returned to Republika Srpska.

Political developments in Bosnia leading to the war[edit]

On 15 October 1991, the Bosnia-Herzegovina Assembly passed a resolution on the sovereignty of Bosnia-Herzegovina. There was strong opposition from Serb deputies and ten days later, the SDS formed a Bosnian-Serb Assembly, with Momčilo Krajišnik as president. The Bosnian-Serb Assembly began establishing parallel government structures.[3]

Participation in the Dayton negotiations[edit]

Krajišnik took part in the negotiations leading to the Dayton agreements. He earned the nickname "Mr. No" for his uncompromising stance during negotiations.[1] About that period, Richard Holbrooke noted in his memoirs:[4]

As everybody who met him noted, Krajišnik had only one long and extraordinarily brushy eyebrow, which spanned his forehead, creating what looked like a permanent dark cloud over his deep-set eyes. Although Krajišnik had not been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal – and could therefore participate in Dayton – it was hard to distinguish his views from those of his close friend Radovan Karadžić. Milošević had often said that Krajišnik was "more difficult" than Karadžić, but we had little basis on which to make an independent judgment. [...] He and Izetbegović knew each other well, from lengthy meetings in the Bosnian Assembly before the war. Krajišnik owned a five-hectare farm on the edge of Sarajevo, in an area that would probably revert to the Muslims in any settlement, and we often made bitter jokes that the war was really over Krajišnik's five hectares.

Indictment by the ICTY and Arrest[edit]

Krajišnik was indicted by the ICTY on various charges of crimes against humanity (namely extermination, murder, persecution, deportation, and forced transfer), murder as a war crime, and genocide in relation to acts committed in 1992 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was arrested on 3 April 2000 at Pale by French commandos of SFOR.

Conviction by the ICTY[edit]

On 27 September 2006, Krajišnik was convicted of the following crimes against humanity: extermination, murder, persecution, deportation, and forced transfer. He was acquitted of the charges of murder as a war crime, genocide, and complicity in genocide. He was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment.[1]

The Judges found that Krajišnik had been part of a joint criminal enterprise which carried out the extermination, murder, persecution and deportation of non-Serbs during the Bosnian war between 1992 and 1995.[5]

Judge Alphons Orie observed that "Krajisnik's role in the commission of the crimes was crucial ... His positions within the Bosnian Serb leadership gave him the authority to facilitate the military, police and paramilitary groups to implement the objective of the joint criminal enterprise". He noted "Mr Krajišnik... accepted that a heavy price of suffering, death and destruction was necessary to achieve Serb domination." Krajišnik was acquitted of genocide or complicity in genocide on the grounds that the court had found no evidence of a genocidal intent on his part to destroy in full or part ethnic or religious communities. This decision was greeted with anger by representatives of victims of crimes of which Krajišnik had been found guilty, who found his acquittal on the charge of genocide difficult to accept. Bakira Hasečić of the "Association of Women Victims of War", an organisation that campaigns for prosecution of those responsible for the use of rape as a weapon of war that was a feature of the ethnic cleansing campaign, commented that "The sentence is a major blow to justice. It is an insult for the victims."[5]

On 17 March 2009 the charges of murder and extermination were dropped and the sentence was reduced to 20 years.[6] While the ICTY judges found that there was evidence that crimes committed in Bosnia constituted the criminal act of genocide (actus reus), they did not establish that the accused possessed genocidal intent, or was part of a criminal enterprise that had such an intent (mens rea).[2]

According to Edina Bećirević,[who?] both Krajišnik and Radovan Karadžić were warned by Bosnian Serb military commander General Ratko Mladić, also indicted on genocide charges, that their "plans" [sic] could not be committed without committing genocide:[7]

People are not little stones, or keys in someone's pocket, that can be moved from one place to another just like that. Therefore, we cannot precisely arrange for only Serbs to stay in one part of the country while removing others painlessly. I do not know how Mr Krajišnik and Mr Karadžić will explain that to the world. That is genocide.

Imprisonment and release[edit]

In 2009, Krajišnik was transferred to the UK under the UK's enforcement agreements with the ICTY[why?] to serve his sentence at Belmarsh Prison, England. In 2010, after a single year in prison, he filed a request for early release,[8] which was rejected, as in practice, the ICTY considers early release once 2/3rds of the sentence is served, unlike in the UK where it is often considered after 1/2 the sentence is served. In 2011 another request for early release was made, according to Krajišnik's brother Mirko, in response to a British government initiative. Krajišnik said that the ICTY had received a proposal from the UK Ministry of Justice that Momčilo Krajišnik, as a person serving a sentence in the UK, should apply for premature release based on the fact that he had served half his sentence. Krajišnik has been in prison first at The Hague and then in the UK since 3 April 2000.[citation needed]

On 1 September 2013, he was released from prison and went back to Serbia after being granted early release by ICTY President Theodor Meron after serving two-thirds of his sentence of 20 years. After landing in Banja Luka, a government helicopter flew him home to his wartime stronghold of Pale, where thousands of people welcomed him home. His supporters arrived by bus from across Srpska as convoys of cars were on the streets of Pale in the afternoon with people waving Serb flags, honking horns and stopping at the main square as Serbian nationalist songs were played. He then told journalists: "It's like a dream. You have no idea how beautiful this country is." He added that he was surprised by the welcome as "after all, I am 'a war criminal'".[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Bosnia Serb jailed for war crimes". BBC News. 27 September 2006.  Retrieved 26 July 2010
  2. ^ a b "Prosecutor v. Momcilo Krajisnik judgement". International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. 
  3. ^ ICTY Case Information Sheet for Momčilo Krajišnik, Case IT-00-39. Retrieved 26 July 2010. (PDF).
  4. ^ Holbrooke, Richard C. (1999). To End a War. Modern Library. p. 255. ISBN 0-375-75360-5. 
  5. ^ a b "Bosnia Serb jailed for war crimes". BBC News. 27 September 2006. 
  6. ^ "Krajisnik appeal fails". Euro News. 17 March 2009. 
  7. ^ Becirevic, Edina (5 October 2006). "Bosnia's "Accidental" Genocide". Institute for War & Peace Reporting. 
  8. ^ "Krajisnik_trazi_prevremeno_pustanje_iz_zatvora.html Krajišnik traži prevremeno puštanje iz zatvora?". (15 February 2010); retrieved 1 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Bosnian Serbs welcome freed war criminal", Al Jazeera; retrieved 1 September 2013.

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