UN Court Rejects Bosnian Serb War Criminal’s Plea for Release

The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals has rejected a request for early release and a pardon from Milan Lukic, the wartime leader of a Bosnian Serb paramilitary group who is currently serving a life sentence in Estonia.

The court's ruling, which was made on June 24, said Lukic asked for early release because being in prison in Estonia prevents him from seeing his children from Serbia, "which he states is violating his human rights".

In calling for a pardon, Lukic also "makes a number of submissions challenging the final judgment against him, arguing that he is innocent and was framed for crimes he did not commit", the ruling added.

But the Hague court's president, Carmel Agius, said that defendants given a life sentence by the court can only be considered for early release after serving 30 years in jail, which the court considers to be two-thirds of a life sentence.

"As Lukic has only served close to 17 years of his life sentence, he is not yet eligible to be considered for early release," Agius said.

He also said that the claim that Lukic's human rights are being violated is unfounded. While travel to Estonia to visit him "may be expensive and inconvenient, this difficulty does not rise to the level of constituting a violation of the right to maintain family ties", he said.

He also said that the arguments in Lukic's application that contest the verdict in his trial "are irrelevant to showing that any exceptional or compelling circumstances exist warranting his early release before having served two-thirds of his sentence".

Lukic's health condition does not provide any basis for early release either, Agius said.

He explained that "nothing indicates to me that Lukic's state of mental or physical...

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