Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Appeals Chamber confirms Stanišić’s and Župljanin’s sentences

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The Appeals Chamber today confirmed the convictions of Mićo Stanišić, former Minister of the Interior of Republika Srpska, and Stojan Župljanin, former Chief of the Regional Security Services Centre of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The Appeals Chamber affirmed that Stanišić and Župljanin are criminally responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in BiH in 1992, in 20 and eight municipalities respectively. The Judges affirmed both of the accused’s sentences of 22 years’ imprisonment.

The Appeals Chamber dismissed all of Stanišić’s and Župljanin’s grounds of appeal. It confirmed their convictions for committing, through participation in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE), persecutions as a crime against humanity and murder and torture as violations of the laws or customs of war. Župljanin’s convictions for committing extermination, through participation in a JCE, and ordering persecutions through plunder as crimes against humanity were also affirmed.

Both of the accused alleged in their appeals that their right to a fair trial was violated as a result of the participation of Judge Frederik Harhoff in the trial proceedings. The Appeals Chamber rejected their arguments and found that Judge Harhoff’s disqualification in the Šešelj case does not automatically disqualify him from other cases. The Judges also concluded that the Appellants “have failed to demonstrate that a reasonable observer, properly informed of all the relevant circumstances, would reasonably apprehend bias on the part of Judge Harhoff in this case”.

Stanišić further argued in his appeal that the Trial Chamber failed to provide a reasoned opinion as to how his acts and conduct furthered the JCE, and whether his contribution to the JCE was significant. The Appeals Chamber agreed that the Trial Chamber failed to provide a reasoned opinion in this respect and subsequently conducted its own assessment. It concluded that the Trial Chamber’s underlying factual findings ― with the exception of certain findings the Appeals Chamber found to be erroneous ― and relevant evidence support the conclusion beyond reasonable doubt that Stanišić significantly contributed to the JCE.

The Appeals Chamber also affirmed the Trial Chamber’s conclusion that Župljanin significantly contributed to the JCE.

In relation to whether Stanišić and Župljanin possessed the requisite intent to be held liable under the JCE, the Appeals Chamber established that the Trial Chamber committed certain factual errors regarding both Appellants. However, on the basis of the remaining factors, the Appeals Chamber found that these errors do not impact the Trial Chamber’s conclusion that both Stanišić and Župljanin possessed the requisite intent.

Župljanin also challenged his conviction for extermination as a crime against humanity. With respect to an incident in which 20 detainees died during their transport to Manjača detention camp, the Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber failed to provide a reasoned opinion by failing to make the necessary finding on the mens rea of the principal perpetrators. However, following an assessment of the Trial Chamber’s underlying findings and relevant evidence, the Appeals Chamber concluded that the Trial Chamber’s error does not invalidate the Trial Judgement.

The Appeals Chamber granted the Prosecution’s second ground of appeal, which argued that the Trial Chamber erred in law by failing to enter convictions for the crimes of murder, torture, deportation, and other inhumane acts (forcible transfer) as crimes against humanity in addition to the convictions for the crime of persecutions as a crime against humanity. In doing so, the Appeals Chamber referred to the well-established jurisprudence that convictions for the crime of persecutions and other crimes against humanity based on the same conduct are permissibly cumulative. The Appeals Chamber, however, declined to enter new convictions on appeal.

Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin were initially indicted by the Tribunal in 2005 and 1999, respectively. In September 2008, a motion to join the two cases was granted by the Pre-Trial Chamber. The trial commenced on 14 September 2009 and concluded on 1 June 2012. The Trial Judgement was rendered on 27 March 2013 and the Prosecution and the Defence filed their notices of appeal on 13 May 2013. The Appeal Hearing took place on 16 December 2015.

The Appeals Chamber was composed of Judge Carmel Agius, Presiding, Judge Liu Daqun, Judge Christoph Flügge, Judge Fausto Pocar, and Judge Koffi Kumelio A. Afanđe. Judge Liu and Judge Afanđe appended a separate opinion.

Since its establishment, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991. Proceedings against 153 accused individuals have been concluded. Proceedings are currently ongoing for 8 accused.

 

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