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Appeals Chamber upholds Tolimir's convictions for genocide and unanimously upholds life sentence

Chambers | | The Hague |

The Appeals Chamber composed of Judges Theodor Meron (Presiding), William H. Sekule, Patrick Robinson, Mehmet Güney and Jean-Claude Antonetti, issued today its Judgement in the case of Zdravko Tolimir, a former Assistant Commander and Chief of the Sector for Intelligence and Security Affairs of the Main Staff of the Army of the Republika Srpska, accused of crimes committed in the Srebrenica and Žepa enclaves in 1995.

The Appeals Chamber confirmed the Trial Chamber’s finding that Tolimir participated in two joint criminal enterprises (JCE): one to murder the able-bodied men of Srebrenica and the other to forcibly remove the Bosnian Muslim population from Srebrenica and Žepa. Today’s Judgement confirmed Tolimir’s convictions for genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecutions, and inhumane acts (forcible transfer), on the basis of Tolimir’s participation in these two JCEs. The Appeals Chamber affirmed that Tolimir actively participated in and significantly contributed to these JCEs, which resulted in the mass executions of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica and the forcible displacement of thousands of civilians from these two enclaves.

The Appeals Chamber partly reversed Tolimir’s conviction for genocide by means of (i) causing serious mental harm but only to the extent the conviction was based on the Bosnian Serb operations in Žepa (Judges Sekule and Güney dissenting) and (ii) inflicting conditions of life calculated to destroy the Muslim population of Eastern BiH as a whole. The Appeals Chamber confirmed that the Bosnian Muslims of Žepa were, along with the Muslims of Srebrenica and Eastern BiH, the victims of genocide. The Appeals Chamber also partly reversed Tolimir’s convictions for: (i) genocide, murder and extermination, but only to the extent based on the killings of six Bosnian Muslim men near Trnovo by members of the “Scorpions” unit; and (ii) genocide and extermination, but only to the extent based on the killings of three Žepa leaders after the forcible removal of the enclave’s population. The Appeals Chamber did not disturb the Trial Chamber’s finding that the three killings constituted murders as a war crime and a crime against humanity.

The Appeals Chamber upheld Tolimir’s sentence to life imprisonment.

The Appeals Chamber dismissed the remainder of Tolimir’s grounds of appeal. Judge Antonetti filed a partially dissenting and a partially separate opinion. Judges Güney and Sekule appended partially dissenting opinions.

Zdravko Tolimir was indicted initially in 2005. He remained on the run until his arrest on 31 May 2007. His trial commenced on 26 February 2010. The trial Judgement was issued on 12 December 2012. Briefing on the appeal was completed on 27 February 2014.

The Tribunal issued indictments against 20 individuals for the crimes committed in and around Srebrenica and Žepa enclaves in the summer of 1995. With today’s judgment, trials have been concluded for 16 of the accused, while proceedings continue in the cases of Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladić, Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović.

Since its establishment, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001.  Proceedings against 147 have now been concluded.