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4 February 1949|
Čelić, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia
16 April 2010 (aged 61)|
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
SFR Yugoslavia |
Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Years of service||1969–2000|
|Unit||Bosnian Army, Visoko Tactical Group|
|Battles/wars||Bosnian War and the Siege of Sarajevo|
Rasim Delić (4 February 1949 – 16 April 2010) was the Chief of Staff of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was a career officer in the Yugoslav National Army but left it during the breakup of Yugoslavia. He was convicted of war crimes by the ICTY and sentenced to 3 years in prison.
Delić began his military career in the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) on 1 October 1967 at the Military Academy for land forces, where he completed his studies there on 31 July 1971. From 1971 to 1985 he served in an artillery division of the JNA based in Sarajevo and from October 1980 to September 1984 as its commander. From September 1984 to August 1985, Rasim served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of a joint artillery regiment. Between August 1985 and July 1990, except for an interruption of about eleven months in 1988/89 when he attended Command Staff School, Rasim was commander of a joint artillery regiment. On 22 December 1987 he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel.
From 16 July 1990 to 13 April 1992, Rasim Delić was Assistant Chief of the Department for Operational and Training Services in the command of the JNA 4th Corps in Sarajevo. He officially requested to leave the JNA on 13 April 1992.
Shortly after 13 April, Rasim was appointed as Head of the Training and Operations Organ of the Territorial Defence of RBiH.
On 16 April 1992, he was ordered to leave Sarajevo and on 19 April he arrived in Visoko, where he worked with a group of TO officers on the formation of units in central Bosnia. Eventually the Visoko Tactical Group was formed, headed by Rasim Delić. By 12 May he also became a member of the Main Staff and on that date was tasked officially with organizing and commanding armed combat activities in various municipalities in central Bosnia.
On 20 May 1992, the TO forces became the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 17 October 1992, Sefer Halilović, then Chief of the Main Staff, appointed Rasim Delić as Acting Head of the Department of Operations Planning and Training in the Main Staff. 3 June 1992 this group was named the Operation Command Visoko.
In autumn 1992, the Visoko group was officially named Staff of the Supreme Command – Visoko Department, thus going over the head of the command of the General Staff and Defense Ministry and directly answering to the Presidency and the President.
On 27 April 1993, Sefer appointed Rasim as one of the four officers representing the ARBiH in the joint command of the ARBiH and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO).
On 8 June 1993, the Bosnian Presidency issued the reconstruction of the ARBiH Supreme Command Headquarters to include establishing the post Commander of the ARBiH Main Staff, with Rasim Delić being appointed to that post, thus assuming all control of the ARBiH and becoming a member of the extended RBiH Presidency.
Delic's greatest achievement was to prevent the collapse of the government army in the second half of 1993. That provided breathing space for negotiations, orchestrated by the US administration, which ended the conflict with the Bosnian Croats in March 1994.
Delić became the commander of the federation army until his retirement in 2000.
He enrolled in Sarajevo University in December 2004. He finished with the theses "Nastanak, razvoj i uloga Armije RBiH u odbrani Bosne i Hercegovine" (Creation, expansion, and role of the army of RBiH in the defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina).
He was also involved in some non-profit organizations. He is also the co-founder of Udruženja za zaštitu tekovina borbe za Bosnu i Hercegovinu
He was charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and given a three-year jail sentence. He was sentenced by the Trial Chamber for failure to prevent or punish the cruel treatment of twelve captured Serb soldiers in the village of Livade and in the Kamenica camp near Zavidovići in July and August 1995 at the hands of the Mujahideen. At the time the general was remanded to the Detention Unit until the end of the appellate proceedings.
Foreign mujahideen arrived in central Bosnia in the second half of 1992 with the aim of helping their Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) coreligionists to fight against "enemies of Islam" during the Bosnian War. Mostly they came from North Africa, the Near East and the Middle East. On 13 August 1993, the Bosnian Army officially organized foreign volunteers into the detachment known as "El Mujahid" (El Mudžahid) in order to impose control and order.
However, the ICTY Appeals Chamber in Kubura and Hadžihasanović case noted that the relationship between the 3rd Corps of the Bosnian Army headed by Hadžihasanović and the El Mujahedin detachment was not one of subordination but was instead close to overt hostility since the only way to control the detachment was to attack them as if they were a distinct enemy force.
It was alleged that Delić knew that the Mujahideen and other soldiers of his army intended to commit those crimes and knew that Kamenica Camp was the place those crimes were likely to happen but he did nothing to prevent those crimes.
On 3 March 2005, Delić surrendered voluntarily to International Court. He pleaded not guilty on all accounts.
On 15 September 2008, after around eleven months of trial, the court passed the judgment in case of Delić. He was two times temporarily released to Bosnia, the first time in May 2005 and the second time during new year break on 11 December 2007. The prosecutors did not have remarks on these decisions. While on his second release, Delić was held in home detention for a while because he spoke with Haris Silajdžić – he was accused of having talked about his case with him, but he claimed he only talked about friends and family.
The prosecutors requested fifteen years of jail, while the defence requested his release for his guilt had not been proven. The defence claimed that in critical time he did not have control over Mujahideen so that he had not been in a position to have stopped them or for that matter to have punished them.
The court, however, concluded that Delić was not guilty for crimes over Croatian soldiers in Maline for he had been appointed commander of the headquarters on the same day. He was also found not guilty of cruelty and murder in village Kesten and Kamenica Camp, where Mujahideen were alleged to have killed one old man and 52 Serbian soldiers as well as having tortured another 10. He was found guilty only for one charge for failure to prevent or punish the cruel treatment of twelve captured Serb soldiers in the village of Livade and in the Kamenica camp (three incidents between 1993 and 1995) and he was found not guilty for other accounts.
Although the war crimes of the El Mujahideen battalion were proven, and it was agreed by most of the court that Delić had effective control over that unit during that time, the judges concluded that Delić could not have known about those murders at the time so he could not have stopped them.