ICTY: Ex-Bosnian Army Commander Appeals Verdict

The defence of Rasim Delic and the Hague Prosecution are presenting their appeals to the first instance verdict, under which the former Bosnian Army commander was sentenced to three years in prison.

“I must tell you that I had confidence in this Court and I supported it with my work,” Delic told the Appellate Chamber. “Irrespective of the first instance verdict, I still have the same confidence in this Court. I believe you will render a verdict based on rights and arguments.”

Delic’s defence team called on the Court to replace the conviction with an acquittal, stating that the Trial Chamber was wrong when it determined that the indictee had “effective control” over members of the controversial El Mujaheed unit, which was comprised largely of foreign fighters from Islamic countries who arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 war.

For its part, the prosecution also took issue with the sentencing, calling for a longer prison term of seven years.

The Appellate Chamber of the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, said it would announce at a later stage the date for the handing down of a final verdict.

In September 2008 Delic was found guilty of crimes committed by the El Mujaheed unit in the village of Livade and in the Kamenica detention camp in the Zavidovici municipality in July and August 1995. During the trial it was determined that the El Mujaheed unit was formed as part of the Third Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ABiH, in August 1993, on the basis of a decision signed by Delic.

The indictment alleges that members of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, were detained in the Kamenica detention camp, which was “managed by ABiH soldiers who were members of the ‘El Mujaheed’ Unit”. It further alleges that the detainees were mistreated and tortured.

According to the prosecution, Delic was aware of those crimes but failed to undertake the necessary measures to prevent them or punish the perpetrators.

By the first instance verdict, Delic was acquitted of four counts of murder and cruel treatment committed by members of the El Mujaheed unit from 1993 to 1995.

Delic’s appeal is based on the argument that the Trial Chamber erroneously concluded that he had actual control over the El Mujaheed unit, that he had knowledge that the unit members intended to commit those crimes and that he failed to undertake any measures to prevent them.

“The Chamber made a double mistake pertaining to the application of laws and the determination of facts, because it determined that Delic had a real possibility of preventing and punishing the members of the ‘El Mujaheed’ Unit,” the defence said in its appeal, adding that the Court did not specify which measures the indictee could have undertaken “under the circumstances”.

The prosecution challenged Delic’s arguments, saying that the indictee had effective control over the El Mujaheed members and that he had every reason to know that they were going to commit the crimes in question, but he failed to prevent them. The prosecution also said the sentence was ” inadequate”.

“The sentence does not reflect the horrible brutality of the crimes; the Chamber did not sufficiently take into consideration the gravity of Delic’s failures as a commander. This sentence does not fulfill the two main goals – punishment and discouragement,” the prosecution said.

Delic voluntarily surrendered in February 2005. The trial, which lasted for 11 months, began in July 2007.

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