Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Momčilo Krajišnik Sentenced to 20 Years by Appeals Chamber

Please see this update from the official website of the ICTY.

5 comments:

Amila Jašarević said...

I saw it too and was outraged. With this reduced sentence, he's already served almost half of it!

And the reasons for reducing it are just absurd. Which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone - after all, we are talking about the ICTY.

Daniel (Srebrenica Genocide Blog) said...

Kirk, I wonder why does ICTY's Appeals Chamber in majority of cases cut sentences? It always seems to finds reasons to overturn Trial Chamber decisions. Why?

The only time I remember that Appeals Chamber actually increased the sentence was the case of Serb Gen Stanislav Galic, who was convicted on terrorist charges for Sarajevo bombings and sentenced to Life Imprisonment by the ICTY.

visegrad92 said...

It's a shame.

Owen said...

The Appeals Chamber decided that the connection between individual crimes on the ground - the physical murders etc. - and the participants in the joint criminal enterprise who did not physically take part in them hadn't been established. This was a legitimate decision but as I understand it the Chamber could have ordered a retrial.

It may have been a factor in the Chamber's decision that a twenty year sentence will see Krajisnik through to the end of his life anyway but for a figure of the importance of Krajisnik that hardly seems an adequate explanation.

Krajisnik has been very "lucky". The Trial Chamber was following a very conservative line in finding that the "actus reus" (the crimes) of genocide was present but not the "mens rea" (criminal intent on the part of the individual charged). It seems as if the Appeals Chamber is taking that to its logical conclusion and saying that there is no proven connection between the policies and the acts. This appears to be following the line of the ICJ's reasoning, that al-Khasawneh criticised, in refusing to infer intent to commit genocide from a pattern of conduct.

The issue will arise again in Karadzic's trial so at least the Prosecution are aware of the problem.

Dan, the problem appears to be that the ICTY is legally always very cautious. This is a new field of law and a difficult one. The courts have the choice of taking a very careful line and feeling their way step by step or taking bold decisions in interpreting the Genocide Convention according to its spirit and intent. Unfortunately now the ICC has been set up it seems unlikely that the ICTY will want to "lay down the law" so to speak.

It would be nice to hear a legal expert's opinion.

Owen said...

Very informative analysis at IPWR by Edina Becirevic of the reasons for and implications of the Krajisnik appeal judgment:

http://www.iwpr.net/?p=tri&s=f&o=351355&apc_state=henptri