Tribunal: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
What Crimes: Genocide, Conspiracy to commit genocide, Extermination, Murder, Persecutions, Forcible transfer, Deportation
Who: Zdravko Tolimir, Assistant Commander for Intelligence and Security of the Bosnian Serb Army, reporting directly to General Ratko Mladić
How: Joint Criminal Enterprise. He and other Main Staff with the Army of the Republika Srpska mapped out, agreed to, and implemented a plan to forcibly remove Bosnian Muslims from areas that the UN had declared “safe areas” for civilians and to execute Muslim men and boys.
Beginning in 1991, the six republics of Yugoslavia—Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia— began unraveling in a succession of increasingly tumultuous wars that continued until 2001. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was created to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed by all sides in the Yugoslav wars. One of the incidents the ICTY investigated and brought to trial was the forced evictions and massacre at Srebrenica.
In July 1995, over 8,000 men and boys were massacred and between 25,000–30,000 women, girls, and elderly were forcibly moved from their homes around the town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The UN described this mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since World War II.
General Ratko Mladić and the Main Staff of the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) stood accused of perpetrating the crimes at Srebrenica. Commander Zdravko Tolimir was part of this staff and one of Mladić’s most trusted allies.
To successfully prosecute Commander Tolimir for the massacres and evictions at Srbrenica, the prosecution had, in part, to prove that Tolimir was a member of the inner command circle that knowingly designed and assisted in carrying out a plan to eradicate the Bosnian Muslims. This element can be difficult for prosecutors to prove. As luck would have it, however, they were given help by a series of mundane video clips of speeches and meetings, one of which was filmed by a partygoer who unwittingly captured key evidence.
In non-legal terms, “joint criminal enterprise” refers to two or more people committing a crime by planning, organizing, or directing the perpetration of the crime, even if they do not directly participate in the crime’s execution.
At a New Year’s Eve party with senior leaders of the VRS, Commander Tolimir’s boss, General Mladić, gave a speech that was recorded on camera.