Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ICTY: Appeals Chamber Judgment in Case Against Halilović

Today, the ICTY Appeals Chamber rendered its judgment in the case (No. IT-01-48) against former Deputy Commander and Chief of Main Staff of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sefer Halilović. Halilović had been indicted on one count of war crimes (murder) under a theory of superior responsibility. On November 16, 2005, the Trial Chamber acquitted Halilović. In particular, the Trial Chamber found "that the Prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Sefer Halilović was either de jure or de facto commander of an operation called 'Operation Neretva,' which the Prosecution alleges was carried out in Herzegovina . . . [and] that the Prosecution has failed to establish that Sefer Halilović had effective control over the troops which committed the crimes in the areas of Grabovica and Uzdol."

In today's decision (not yet available online; summary here; press release here), the Appeals Chamber dismissed the Prosecution's appeal of Halilović's acquittal. The Prosecution had raised four grounds of appeal: three relating to the elements of superior responsibility and one pertaining to the admission into evidence of the report and proposed testimony of an expert witness. The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber was within its discretion when it found that Halilović did not have the required degree of "effective control" (the first ground of appeal). Consequently, the Appeals Chamber concluded that the remaining grounds of appeal were moot. Hence, Halilović's acquittal was affirmed.