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Students discuss ICTY jurisprudence and guilty pleas

Sarajevo and Tuzla, 3 and 4 April 2014

Guest lectures at the American Universities in Sarajevo and Tuzla and at the Law Faculty of Tuzla University proved that the work of the ICTY generates a lot of interest among students in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tea Polešćuk, a legal advisor in the Office of the Prosecutor of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, visited each of the three universities and talked to a total of around 150 future Bosnian lawyers on plea bargaining practices at the ICTY.

The numerous questions posed by the students confirmed their interest in the ICTY’s jurisprudence and especially in the manner in which guilty pleas are dealt with. The students had a lot of comments about the practice of plea bargaining before the ICTY and discussed the meaningfulness of guilty pleas for serious violations of international humanitarian law. Many found the Tribunal’s sentencing practice in cases where a plea agreement was reached between the prosecution and the accused to be too lenient. One student cited the example of Biljana Plavšić, stating that her guilty plea is extremely controversial. Others pointed out that the remorse of an accused taken as a mitigating circumstance is very difficult to prove.

“I believe that such serious and deliberate crimes deserve much harsher sentences,” said a 21-year-old student of the Law Faculty in Tuzla, suggesting that guilty pleas made in such cases should not be given much weight.

Another student expressed his appreciation for the lecture, saying: “There should be more such presentations organised at our university.”