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Voice of America, 01-07-31

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>

SLUG: 2-278827 Bosnia/War Crimes (L-O) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:

CONTENTS

  • [01] BOSNIA / WAR CRIMES (L ONLY) BY LAUREN COMITEAU (THE HAGUE)
  • [02] COURT / TURKEY / ISLAMISTS (L ONLY) BY LISA BRYANT (PARIS)

  • [01] BOSNIA / WAR CRIMES (L ONLY) BY LAUREN COMITEAU (THE HAGUE)

    DATE=07/31/01
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-278827
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: A former police chief from the Bosnian town of Bosanski Samac has been sentenced to ten years in prison for persecuting Muslims and Croats in 1992 and 93. Bosnian Serb Stevan Todorovic, who pleaded guilty to one count of crimes against humanity, was sentenced following an earlier plea bargain with prosecutors. Lauren Comiteau reports from The Hague.

    TEXT: Saying the crime was particularly grave, Judge Patrick Robinson pronounced the ten-year sentence on a somber looking Steven Todorovic. The sentence was twice as long as his defense lawyers had argued for.

    /// ROBINSON ACT ///

    The trial chamber reiterates the very grave nature of Steven Todorovic's crime. In particular, it is recalled that the crime of persecution is the only crime against humanity that requires that the perpetrator act with a discriminatory intent. It is found that the gravity of Steven Todorovic's criminal conduct was aggravated by his superior position and by the manner in which the crimes were committed.

    /// END ACT ///

    Todorovic pleaded guilty to one count of persecution last December, admitting that he participated in the murder of one man, the beating and torture of several others and the sexual assault of six men at the police station in Bosanski Samac, which he headed. Prosecutors indicted him with five others -- one of whom has since been killed -- for orchestrating an ethnic cleansing campaign against Muslims and Croats in Bosanski Samac during the early years of the Bosnian war. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop all 26 other counts against him. In addition, Todorovic agreed to testify in other trials and to drop legal proceedings against NATO. Todorovic had argued his arrest was illegal and was seeking documents from NATO that would prove it. Todorovic is only the third person to enter a guilty plea before this court. That, say judges, worked in his favor. The Hague war crimes tribunal has limited resources, and judges noted that Todorovic's guilty plea contributes to the court's efficiency and its search for truth.

    /// OPT TO END ///

    Also in his favor, the tribunal ruled, was his substantial cooperation with prosecutors and his remorse. During his sentencing hearing earlier this year, Todorovic said he lacked the courage to prevent what he called inhuman acts toward non-Serbs, something he deeply regrets and prays to God daily to forgive him for. If it weren't for these factors, said Judge Robinson, Todorovic would have received a much longer sentence. He will soon be transferred to another country to serve out the remaining eight years of his sentence. But he will be back in The Hague as a witness later this year, when the trial of the four other men accused with him gets underway. (SIGNED)
    NEB/LC/KL/MAR SLUG: 2-278813 Court / Turkey / Islamists (L only) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:

    [02] COURT / TURKEY / ISLAMISTS (L ONLY) BY LISA BRYANT (PARIS)

    DATE=07/31/01
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-278813
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Turkey's 1998 decision to ban the Islamist Welfare Party did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights. Lisa Bryant in Paris reports on the decision by the court, which is based in Strasbourg, France.

    TEXT: The European human rights court ruled that a three-year-old ban on Turkey's once-powerful Welfare Party did not violate Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, regarding freedom of assembly and association. By a vote of four-to-three, the court said the Welfare Party's efforts to establish Islamic Sharia law in Turkey was at odds with values embodied in the human rights convention. The court also argued that the Welfare Party's position about resorting to violence to achieve and keep power was not clear. It said political parties that resorted to violence or to undemocratic means could not rely on the European human rights convention. Former Welfare deputy chairman Sevket Kazan called the European court's decision surprising. Mr. Kazan, a plaintiff in the case, told Turkey's Anatolia news agency an appeal would be filed. In Ankara, former Welfare members accused the court of adopting double standards and being unfair. The Welfare Party was once the largest party in Turkey's parliament. The party's leader, Necmettin Erbakan, became the country's first Islamist prime minister after a 1995 general election. But his coalition government collapsed after just one year in power, after clashing with Turkey's powerful -- and pro-secular -- military over his Islamist-oriented policies. In 1998, Turkey's Constitutional Court banned the Welfare Party, which was accused of being a hub for anti-secular activities. Shortly after, Mr. Erbakan and two other Welfare politicians filed a complaint with the European court, arguing the decision violated the right of freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Turkey also banned Mr. Erbakan from politics for life and sentenced him to a year in jail. But he has not served any time, and since won partial amnesty. In June, Turkey's Constitutional Court outlawed the pro-Islamic Virtue party. The decision has sparked criticism from some European governments. Altogether, more than one-dozen Turkish political parties have been dissolved over the past decade. (Signed)
    NEB/LB/GE/JWH


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