|(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 23 October 2001
Appeals Judgement rendered in the ''Kupreskic & others'' case:
Zoran Kupreskic, Mirjan Kupreskic and Vlatko Kupreskic:
are found not guilty, their convictions are reversed, and they are to be released immediately
Drago Josipovic: his appeal is partially allowed and his sentence is reduced from 15 to 12 years’ imprisonment
Vladimir Santic: his appeal is partially allowed and his sentence is reduced from 25 to 18 years’ imprisonment
Today, Tuesday 23 October 2001, the Appeals Chamber consisting of Judge Patricia Wald (Presiding), Judge Lal Chand Vohrah, Judge Rafael Nieto-Navia, Judge Fausto Pocar and Judge Liu Daqun, rendered its Judgement in the case The Prosecutor v. Zoran Kupreskic, Mirjan Kupreskic, Vlatko Kupreskic, Drago Josipovic and Vladimir Santic.
This case is one of several focusing on the massacre of the Bosnian Muslim inhabitants of Ahmici, a small village in central Bosnia, that was attacked on 16 April 1993 by Bosnian Croat forces as part of a broader strategy of expelling Bosnian Muslims from the Lasva River Valley region.
The trial was held between 17 August 1998 and 10 November 1999. Handing down Judgement on 14 January 2000, the Trial Chamber acquitted one defendant, Dragan Papic, of all charges and ordered his immediate release. The five remaining accused were acquitted of some counts but convicted of one count of persecution as a crime against humanity. Additionally, Drago Josipovic and Vladimir Santic were found guilty of two counts of murder and inhumane acts as a crime against humanity. They were then sentenced as follows: Zoran Kupreskic, 10 years imprisonment; Mirjan Kupreskic, 8 years; Vlatko Kupreskic, 6 years; Drago Josipovic, 15 years; and Vladimir Santic, 25 years.
THE APPEAL PROCESS
The accused appealed against their convictions and sentences. The Prosecutor also appealed against the Trial Chamber’s ruling not to convict Drago Josipovic and Vladimir Santic for violations of the laws or customs of war, based on cumulative convictions considerations.
Following an "extremely complex pre-appeal process in which 26 separate motions to introduce new evidence were disposed of S…C", the Appeals Judgement rendered today concludes a "fact-intensive exercise". The Appeals Chamber "has been confronted with an issue that domestic jurisdictions have struggled with over centuries: the circumstances in which it is reasonable for a finder of fact to rely upon identification evidence given by a single witness". In addition, "several accused raised allied procedural challenges, which, they claim, cast serious doubts upon the fairness of their trials."
The Appeals Chamber was guided by two principles. First, "the function of this Tribunal is to decide the guilt or innocence of individual accused according to standards of procedure and evidence that commend themselves to all civilised nations". Above all, "it has striven to follow the principle laid down by the First Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg that we must ‘establish incredible events by credible evidence’".
After a thorough examination of the voluminous trial record on which the convictions of the accused were based, the Appeals Chamber came to the following conclusion:
Appeals by the accused:
Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic: The indictment against them was defective because it failed to plead the material facts of the Prosecution’s case. In addition, the evidentiary basis relied upon by the Trial Chamber to support their convictions was inadequate. For these reasons, their convictions were REVERSED and their RELEASE was ordered.
Vlatko Kupreskic: Additional evidence admitted on appeal demonstrated that the circumstantial evidence relied on by the Trial Chamber to convict him of aiding and abetting persecution could not support his conviction. His conviction was REVERSED and his RELEASE was ordered.
Drago Josipovic: The indictment against him was partially defective because it failed to plead all of the material facts of the Prosecution’s case. Moreover, the trial record did not disclose a sufficient evidentiary basis for the Trial Chamber’s finding that he played a command role during the Ahmici attack. However, his remaining grounds of appeal were dismissed. His conviction was AFFIRMED but his sentence was REVISED from 15 to 12 years’ imprisonment.
Vladimir Santic: He successfully appealed against the Trial Chamber’s finding that he assisted in the strategic planning of the attack on Ahmici. The Appeals Chamber also found that he had partially accepted guilt for his role in the Ahmici attack and that he had provided substantial co-operation to the Prosecution since his conviction. However, his other grounds of appeal were dismissed. His conviction was AFFIRMED but his sentence was REVISED from 25 to 18 years’ imprisonment.
Appeal by the Prosecution:
The Appeals Chamber allowed the Prosecution’s appeals against improper cumulative charging and cumulative convictions. Accordingly, the acquittal of Drago Josipovic and Vladimir Santic on counts charging violations of the laws or customs of war were reversed and findings of guilty were substituted. However, because the Prosecution did not request an increase in their sentences, these additional convictions were not taken into account for sentencing purposes.
A detailed Summary of the Judgement and the text of the Judgement can be obtained from the Public Information Services. Both documents are also available on the ICTY’s Internet site.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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