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The Hague, 30 November 2006
Stanislav Galić sentenced to life imprisonment by Appeals Chamber
for crimes committed during the siege of Sarajevo
The Tribunal's Appeals Chamber today sentenced Stanislav Galić, a former Bosnian Serb Army commander, to life imprisonment for his role in the campaign of sniping and shelling against civilians in Sarajevo from September 1992 to August 1994. This is the first time the maximum penalty has been rendered by the Tribunal's Appeals Chamber.
The Appeals Chamber dismissed all 19 grounds of appeal by Galić, including those which claimed that Trial Chamber wrongly convicted him of the "acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which was to spread terror among the civilian population" of Sarajevo. The Appeals Chamber allowed the appeal by the Prosecution on the length of sentence, quashing the Trial Chamber sentence of 20 years.
The Appeals Chamber noted that the Trial Chamber relied on a plethora of evidence to demonstrate that terrorisation of the civilian population was the primary purpose of the campaign of sniping and shelling and that Galić, who held the position of commander of the Bosnian Serb Army Sarajevo-Romanija Corps (SRK), had the intent to spread terror among the civilian population.
In the findings upheld by the Appeals Chamber, the Trial Chamber established that the evidence demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that Sarajevo civilians were indeed made the object of deliberate attack by SRK forces. They were attacked while attending funerals, while in ambulances, trams, and buses, and while cycling. They were attacked while tending gardens, or shopping in markets, or clearing rubbish in the city. Children were targeted while playing or walking in the streets. These attacks were mostly carried out in daylight. They were not in response to any military threat. The attackers could for the most part easily tell that their victims were engaged in everyday civilian activities.
The Appeals Chamber specifically addressed a number of incidents, including that of 5 February 1994 when a mortar shell exploded in the Markale market in downtown Sarajevo, killing some 60 people and injuring more than a hundred. The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber's finding that the mortar shell came from SRK positions was not one that no reasonable trier of fact could have made. However, it held that the Trial Chamber was "incorrect to find that the shell was deliberately aimed at the Markale market but that, in any case, this shelling incident was an example of shelling that deliberately targeted civilians."
With respect to the Prosecution's appeal on sentence, the Appeals Chamber found that, although the Trial Chamber did not err in its factual findings and correctly noted the principles governing sentencing, "the sentence of only 20 years was so unreasonable and plainly unjust, in that it underestimated the gravity of Galić's criminal conduct."
This decision on Galic's appeal was reached by a majority of judges with Judge Schomburg dissenting with respect to the customary law nature of the crime of acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population. The decision on the Prosecution's sentence appeal was also reached by a majority of Judges with Judge Pocar partially dissenting and Judge Meron dissenting. Judge Shahabuddeen appended a separate opinion on both issues.
The full text of the summary of the judgement can be found at the following link:
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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