Former Bosnian Serb military commander Radislav Krstic has accepted personal responsibility for the war crimes committed in the eastern town of Srebrenica and has asked the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) to reduce his 35-year sentence that the Hague Tribunal rendered in 2004.
Krstic sent a letter to IRMCT President Judge Carmel Agius in April this year, asking for his early release from prison in Poland after serving two-thirds of his sentence in March.
In the copy of a handwritten letter published on Tuesday by Bosnian Faktor online media outlet, Krstic, who was the commander of the so-called Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army in 1995, wrote that during his prison years he “understood and accepted his responsibility” for the suffering and death of the victims in Srebrenica.
After the Bosnian Serb army and police captured a UN-protected enclave in July 1995, they killed more than 7,000 Bosniaks, mostly men and boys, which the UN court, formerly the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), described in a series of verdicts as a crime of genocide.
Krstic does not mention the word genocide in the letter, which is explicitly mentioned in the ICTY ruling, but says he bears personal responsibility for “terrible crimes committed during and after the fall of Srebrenica.”
At the time, Krstic was the closest associate of former Republika Srpska Army commander Ratko Mladic, who was sentenced to life in prison for war crimes, including the Srebrenica genocide. During the trial in The Hague, one of the pieces of evidence of his guilt was the recording of a telephone conversation in which Krstic instructed one of his subordinates not to leave any captured Bosniaks alive.
“Words cannot express the painful remorse I feel every day for my actions,” Krstic wrote, expressing his desire for Agius to allow him to spend the rest of his life with his family in Belgrade without publicly speaking out and praising himself or other convicted war crimes perpetrators.
All persons convicted of war crimes by the ICTY were previously almost automatically given the opportunity to be released after serving two-thirds of their sentences, but the current MICT president has abolished the practice and is restrictively considering all such demands.