Thursday, July 3, 2008

ICTY: Appeals Chamber Judgment in the Case Against Naser Orić

Today, the ICTY Appeals Chamber rendered its judgment in the case (No. IT-03-68) against Naser Orić, former commander of Bosnian Muslim forces in Srebrenica (case information sheet here). The defendant had appealed his June 30, 2006, conviction on two counts of war crimes for failing to "discharge [his] duty as a superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence" of murder and cruel treatment. The Prosecutor appealed Orić's acquittal on other charges, as well as the sentence imposed. (Trial Chamber judgment here; summary here; press release here). Orić was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

In today's judgment (summary here; press release here; full judgment not yet available online), the Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber and acquitted Orić of all the crimes of which he had been convicted. The Appeals Chamber faulted the Trial Chamber for not making the findings necessary for the defendant's conviction on a theory of command responsibility. Specifically, the Appeals Chamber noted the absence of findings that Orić's "only identified subordinate, Atif Krdžić," was responsible for crimes and that "Orić knew or had reason to know that Atif Krdžić was about to or had committed crimes." The Court rejected the Prosecution's appeals. The press release notes: "The Presiding Judge emphasized that before the International Tribunal a Chamber has to decide solely based on the evidence brought before it by the parties. The Appeals Chamber had explicitly asked the Prosecution whether it could point to additional evidence not assessed by the Trial Chamber [that would establish Orić's criminal liability on the basis of his command responsibility]. However, the Prosecution was not in a position to do so."

UPDATE: The judgment is now available here. So too are the declaration of Judge Shahabuddeen, the partially dissenting opinion and declaration of Judge Liu, and the separate and partially dissenting opinion of Judge Schomburg.