ICTY: Appeals Chamber Affirms Stanišić’s and Župljanin’s Sentences

Stanisic Zupljanin

Mićo Stanišić (left) and Stojan Župljanin

Today, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) 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.