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Vienna´s weekly European journal

Hague Tribunal publishes Balkan war statistics

Archived article from: 
Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hague Tribunal publishes Balkan war statistics

execution of a civilian
Left: prisoners in the Trnopolje camp near Prijedor, Bosnia; right: a civilian is murdered in Brčko

After more than twelve years of investigations the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has published a groundbreaking work containing official legal estimates of the number of victims of the Balkan wars in the 1990s. They include not only the numbers killed but also those wounded, missing, exhumed and identified, internally displaced and refugees.

In January 2010 the ICTY arrived at a figure of 104,731 people killed in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. This estimate is the official finding of the ICTY in The Hague and was arrived at after twelve years of painstaking collection of data, facts and evidence. This final estimate was calculated using a complex methodology. Apart from case files it also incorporated twelve external sources and around forty expert studies. It was based on extensively uncontested evidence for around 90,000 victims. The final official figure was calculated by excluding duplications and then aligning the remaining facts with the statistics available in the various Balkan states today. Details are described on the ICTY website.
More than 100,000 Bosnian victims
The breakdown of 104,731 victims by ethnicity and gender reveals that most of the dead in Bosnia – 68,101 or 3.6 per cent of the 1991 population – came from the Muslim minority. They were followed by Serbs with 22,779 victims or 1.7 per cent of the population, and then Bosnian Croats with 8,858 or 1.2 per cent. The other 4,995 victims – 1.4 per cent of the population at the time – are grouped under the heading “Others”. The vast majority of the victims – 94,350 or 90.1 per cent – were men. Within the female population, 10,368 or 9.9 per cent of all Bosnian women lost their lives.

mass grave in Bosnia
A mass grave after a masscre near Vitez in April 1993

Genocide in Srebrenica
One of the main expert studies used by the ICTY was an estimate in June 2000, which put the number of Bosnian Muslims killed in Srebrenica at 7,475. Srebrenica is in the east of Bosnia close to Serbia. The perpetrators of this mass killing were Bosnian Serbs led by Ratko Mladić, who is still wanted for trial by the ICTY. The Tribunal suspects that Mladić is in hiding in Serbia. In 2007 the UN International Court of Justice, also in The Hague, qualified the massacre in Srebrenica as genocide, and it is regarded today as the worst war crime in Europe since the Second World War.
War in Croatia: no final figures available
The ICTY carried out more than ten years of intensive research on the war in Croatia from 1991 to 1995. The available figures are not sufficient, however, for presentation to the court as verified data. In 1995, for example, the Croatian government in Zagreb published the following data: 12,131 dead including 8,100 civilians, 33,043 wounded, 2,251 missing Croatians and 6,780 Croatian Serbs killed.

high court in Den Haag
Courtroom of the Inernational War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague

Kosovo: disputed victim figures
The ICTY data on Kosovo are less complete and provisional. Between 24 March and 22 June 1999 an estimated 10,356 ethnic Albanians were killed in Kosovo. This figure was determined by  Patrick Ball, an external expert, on behalf of the public prosecutor’s office. Ball spoke of a systematic campaign by the ex-Yugoslavian army directed against Kosovo Albanians. No agreement has yet been reached in The Hague on the number of refugees. Ball reckons that there were at least 400,000. The OSCE estimates that after the arrival of the KFOR peacekeeping force in mid-June 1999 there were around 850,000 refugees. The Tribunal itself recognised in a specific instance that the ex-Yugoslavian army caused the flight of “at least 700,000 Kosovo Albanians” between March and June 1999.

The figures for the number of victims in present-day Serbia as a result of the NATO air raids between 24 March and 10 June 1999 also vary. NATO documented around 5,000 deaths in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. According to the former Yugoslavian People’s Army, some 2,000 civilians, 462 soldiers and 114 police officers were killed.
War crimes tribunal
The International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was established in The Hague in 1993 by the United Nations Security Council. It started work a year later. Its task is to prosecute war crimes in the Balkan wars. Charges have been brought against 161 suspected offenders. By August 2010, 124 cases had been concluded. The majority ended with a conviction, as the latest list of judgements reveals. The Bosnian Serb Ratko Mladić and the Croat Serb Goran Hadžić, both of whom are accused of atrocities, have yet to be brought to trial.

Ratko Mladic
Goran Hadzic
Still on the run: Bosnian Serb Ratko Mladić and Croatian Serb Goran Hadžić

exhibition tip
Event tip:
KRIEG.KUNST.KRISE – Contemporary  Art in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The exhibition “Krieg.Kunst.Krise” is being shown in Vienna by KulturKontakt Austria until 3 June 2011. It features a selection of contemporary art from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Curator Elio Krivdić seeks to investigate the effects of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1990s on art scene there.
The exhibition has works by Edin Numankadić, Veso Sovilj, Iva Simčić, Radenko Milak and Mladen Miljanović. All of them were affected in one way or another by the war, and their works reflect their personal experiences.

Date and opening hours: Mon–Fri 14.00–18.00, until 3 June 2011
Venue: Galerie ArtPoint, Universitätsstrasse 5, 1010 Vienna