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Tribunal Decides to Refer the Case Against Radovan Stankovic to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Press Release
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)

The Hague, 17 May 2005


Tribunal Decides to Refer the Case Against Radovan Stankovic to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Today, 17 May 2005, the Tribunal decided to refer the case against Radovan Stankovic to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In its ruling, the Tribunal’s Referral Bench, consisting of Judges Alphons Orie (presiding), O-Gon Kwon and Kevin Parker, stated that the internationally composed War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the focus of its Decision. This is the first time the Tribunal has referred one of its indictments to a national jurisdiction.

The accused

Radovan Stankovic, a national of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was born in March 1969 and had his permanent residence in Miljevina, a village located within the municipality of Foca in south-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The indictment alleges that in 1992, he was a soldier in the Miljevina Battalion of the Foca Tactical Brigade, serving under the command of the Bosnian Serb paramilitary leader Pero Elez.

Factual allegations in the indictment

The indictment alleges that, following the takeover of parts of Foča in April 1992 by Serb forces, military and police accompanied by local and non-local soldiers started arresting Muslim and Croat inhabitants. During the arrests, many civilians were killed, beaten or subjected to sexual assault. Muslim women, children and the elderly were detained in houses, apartments and motels in the town of Fo~a and in surrounding villages, or at short and long-term detention centres such as the Foča High School and the Partizan Sports Hall. Many of the detained women were subjected to humiliating and degrading conditions of life, to brutal beatings and to sexual assault, including rape. Besides the above-mentioned places of detention, several women were detained in houses and apartments used as brothels and operated by groups of soldiers, mostly paramilitary.

Radovan Stankovic is charged on the basis of individual criminal responsibility under Article 7(1) of the Statute. The indictment alleges that from about 3 August 1992 until about 10 October 1992, Radovan Stankovic, together with other Serb soldiers, was in charge of a house used to detain at least nine Muslim women and girls who were subjected to repeated rape and sexual assault. His alleged participation included assigning the women and girls to specific Serb soldiers to be raped and otherwise sexually assaulted. The indictment further alleges that he personally raped at least two women, one of whom he claimed as his own, in order to repeatedly rape her over a three month time span.


The indictment charges Radovan Stankovic with the following:

four counts of crimes against humanity (Article 5 – enslavement; rape), and four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (Article 3 – rape; outrages upon personal dignity).

Procedural background

The original indictment against Radovan Stankovic was confirmed on 26 June 1996 and included seven other persons. Stankovic was apprehended by the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in the Foca area on 9 July 2002 and was transferred to the Tribunal the following day. A subsequent amended indictment charging only the accused was filed on 8 December 2003 and confirmed on 24 February 2004.

The Prosecutor filed a motion for referral of the case to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 21 September 2004, pursuant to Rule 11 bis of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Radovan Stankovic opposed the Prosecutor’s Motion for referral, claiming that a fair trial could not be offered to him before any court in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On 5 October 2004, the President of the Tribunal, Judge Theodor Meron, appointed a Referral Bench composed of three permanent Judges selected from the Trial Chambers to determine whether the case should be referred to the authorities of a State. This Referral Bench held a hearing on 4 March 2005, attended by the Prosecution, the Defence and representatives of the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Findings of the Referral Bench

The Referral Bench was satisfied that neither the level of responsibility of the accused nor the gravity of the crimes alleged in the indictment were factors that would make a referral the national authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina inappropriate.

The Referral Bench decided to grant the Prosecutor’s Motion for referral to the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, having:

Considered the question of compatibility of the laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Tribunal’s Statute reviewed the laws applicable to the events in 1992 in Bosnia and Herzegovina reviewed the prospects for the accused to receive a fair trial before the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina satisfied itself that adequate measures are in place for the protection of witnesses, and satisfied itself that the death penalty will not be imposed.

The Referral Bench also declared that referral should not have the effect of revoking the previous Orders and Decisions issued by the Tribunal and that it would be for the competent national authorities to determine if different provisions should be adopted for the purpose of trial of the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Referral Bench ordered the Registrar to transfer the accused and ordered the Prosecutor to hand over the material supporting the indictment and all other appropriate evidence to the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina within 30 days.

The Referral Bench ordered the Prosecutor to continue her efforts to conclude an agreement with an international organisation of notable standing, such as the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), for the purpose of monitoring the trial and reporting back to the Tribunal.

Radovan Stankovic and the Prosecution have 15 days within which to appeal the Referral Bench’s Decision.


The full text of the Decision is available on the Tribunal’s website

http://www.un.org/icty. Hard copies can be obtained from the Media Office.

Proceedings can also be followed on the Tribunal’s website.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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