Đorđević appeals verdict, admits to crimes, apologizes
THE HAGUE -- Vlastimir Đorđević admitted before the Hague Tribunal that crimes were committed against Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.
Đorđević at the Hague Tribunal (Beta, file)
He also apologized to the victims, agencies reported on Monday.
The former Serbian assistant minister of the interior made the statements during the appeals process before the court, which both the defense and the prosecution filed to the first-instance verdict finding him guilty and sentencing him to 27 years in prison.
Đorđević also confirmed that he had taken part in the hiding of the bodies of the killed Albanians, saying that he was sorry.
The defense asked that Đorđević’s sentence be lowered, and the prosecution that the Trial Chamber passes a sentence of life imprisonment.
“I apologize to all the victims and displaced persons for the committed crimes”, Đorđević said, but added that he had found out about these crimes only after 2001, when a freezer truck was discovered on the Danube near Tekija full of corpses of civilians from Kosovo.
Confirming that he had participated in the secret burial of corpses on the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (SAJ) base of MUP Serbia in Batajnica, Đorđević admitted that he did not oppose the covering up of this crime and did not open an investigation into the perpetrators because he didn’t have the strength to stand up to the then Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljković, who committed suicide in 2001.
“I regret that I didn’t stand up to the Minister... I feel guilty because of it... I had a certain role in all that and believed that I should be punished”, Đorđević said.
He stated that the only reason because of which he hadn’t pleaded guilty before the Tribunal sooner was that the indictment and then the first-instance verdict, ascribed to him a much bigger role in the crimes in Kosovo than the one he actually played.
Đorđević claimed that he had spent the greater part of the war in Belgrade and could not have ordered the then MUP Serbia Headquarters commander in Kosovo Sreten Lukić. He also said that he had not been a member of the MUP Serbia and Yugoslav Army joint command in Kosovo.
On 23 February 2011, the court found Đorđević guilty by a first instance verdict, on all counts of the indictment, of forced relocation, deportations, murders and persecution of Albanians from Kosovo in the first six months of 1999, when he had been the head of the Department of Public Security of the Serbian MUP and an assistant Minister of the Interior.
These criminal acts were qualified as crimes against humanity and the violation of the laws and conduct of war.
After many years in hiding, General Đorđević was arrested on in June 2007 in Budva, Montenegro, after which the Montenegrin authorities extradited him to the Tribunal. In the first appearance before Hague Tribunal, he pleaded not guilty to the war crimes charges.
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