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Court Watch Tracking Current Developments in International Law

ICTY Grants Early Release to Former Head of Bosnian Serb Parliament

On September 1, 2013, former Bosnian Serb poli- tician Momcilo Krajišnik was released from a Brit- ish prison after serving two-thirds of his 20-year sentence. Krajišnik was arrested on April 3, 2000 on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, and forced transfer as crimes against humanity. Krajišnik played an important role in the planning and implementation of forcible displacement of thousands of Muslim and Croat civilians during the Bosnian War. He was eventually convicted of participating in a joint criminal enterprise to permanently remove by force Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats, and other non-Serb residents across Bosnia and Herzegovina through the commission of criminal acts. He is just one of over 60 political and military officials convicted for related crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The ICTY is a United Nations court of law estab- lished in 1993 in response to mass human rights violations in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovi- na. In its 20 years of operation, the Tribunal has made groundbreaking changes to humanitarian law and the level of accountability for public lead- ers. The President of the ICTY has the authority to grant early releases to convicted criminals at the consideration of several factors: the gravity of the crime for which the prisoner was convict- ed, the treatment of similarly-situated prisoners, the prisoner’s demonstration of rehabilitation, the prisoner’s cooperation with the prosecution, and the prisoner’s risk to society if released.

Judge Theodor Meron delivered the final deci- sion to grant Krajišnik’s fourth request for early release. His decision gave particular weight to Krajišnik’s lack of risk if released, his demonstra-

tion of rehabilitation, and a positive Sentence Planning and Review Report. In accordance with the Agreement Between the United Nations and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the Enforcement of Sentences of the International Criminal Tribu- nal for the former Yugoslavia, consideration for Krajišnik’s early release also depended on his eli- gibility for early release with respect to UK law. Under UK law, he was eligible for early release only after serving two-thirds of his sentence. Al- though Krajišnik was not technically convicted until 2006, his sentence was retroactively ap- plied to have started at his arrest in 2000. Bear- ing this requirement in mind, Krajišnik became eligible for release this September.

During the Bosnian War, Krajišnik served as the President of the Bosnian-Serb Assembly. Although many of his individual charges were dropped at the appellate level, the Chamber found that Krajišnik was involved in a joint crimi- nal enterprise (JCE) with several other high- ranking politicians. This JCE had the common objective to “ethnically recompose the territories targeted by the Bosnian-Serb leadership by dras- tically reducing the proportion of Bosnian Mus- lims and Bosnian Croats through expulsion.” The enterprise quickly came to encompass crimes of persecution, murder and extermination.

The Chamber found that Krajišnik contributed to the JCE by establishing and perpetuating party and state structures which played a role in the commission of crimes against humanity. The Chamber also noted his failure to use his power to intervene and his lack of concern for hard- ships of disadvantaged groups.

In his request for early release, Krajišnik said he stands “prepared to help seek reconciliation be- tween the three peoples” of Bosnia-Herzegov-

ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 1 » October 2013 5

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