Press Release . Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 4 June 1998
THE TRIAL OF ANTO FURUNDZIJA BEGINS ON MONDAY 8 JUNE 1998
First prosecution of sexual violence inflicted during interrogation
The trial of the Accused Anto FURUNDZIJA will begin on Monday 8 June 1998 at 9.30 a.m. before Trial Chamber II consisting of Judge Mumba, presiding, Judge Cassese and Judge May. The opening of this trial brings the number of cases, currently heard by one of the Trial Chambers, to five. Trials are ongoing in the following cases: Celebici (Delalic, Delic, Landzo and Mucic),
Blaskic, Aleksovski and Dokmanovic. Two more trial openings have been scheduled in the case of Kovacevic (6 July 1998) and Kupreskic & others (17 August 1998).
Background on the accused
According to the indictment, Anto Furundzija (born in Travnik on 8 July 1969) was during the war a commander of a Special Forces group within the HVO called the Jokers, and he worked out from the Joker’s headquarters (the "Bungalow") in Vitez. He was there on or about 15 May 1993 to question two prisoners who were being mistreated by another member of the Jokers. Anto Furundzija
was present while a prisoner was sexually assaulted and he did nothing to stop or curtail that action.
The Accused was detained by members of the SFOR forces, on 18 December 1997, and transferred to the ICTY Detention Unit.
During his initial appearance, on 19 December 1997, Anto Furundzija pleaded not guilty.
Background on the indictment
The original indictment, issued on 10 November 1995, charged Anto Furundzija with three counts – one count for Grave Breach of the Geneva Convention (Count 12), and two counts for Violations of the Laws or Customs of War, torture and outrages upon personal dignity including rape (Counts 13 and 14) – for his alleged criminal conduct.
On 13 March, Trial Chamber II issued an order granting leave to the Prosecutor to withdraw Count 12 of the indictment.
Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment denied
On 21 May, Counsel for the Accused filed a motion requesting the Trial Chamber to dismiss Counts 13 and 14 of the indictment on the ground that the two charges – torture and outrage on the personal dignity including rape – are not covered by Article 3 of the Statute, entitled "Violations of the Laws or Customs of War" (Press Releases CC/PIU/318-E and CC/PIU/319-E).
On 29 May, Trial Chamber II denied the Defendant’s motion to dismiss Counts 13 and 14 of the indictment. In its decision, the Trial Chamber asserted that "[…] the Defence is suggesting that allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law should escape the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal. […] [T]he Trial Chamber holds that Article 3 of the
Statute covers torture and outrages upon personal dignity including rape, and that the Trial Chamber has jurisdiction to try Anto Furundzija for alleged violations of Article 3 of the Statute".
Background on the Parties
The Prosecution bench will consist of Ms. Patricia Viseur-Sellers and Mr. Michael Blaxill.
The Accused will be assisted by Mr. Luka Misetic (Lead Counsel) and Mr. Sheldon Davidson (co-Counsel), both members of the Chicago Bar.
Background on the Chamber
Trial Chamber II consists of Judge Florence Ndepele Mwachande MUMBA (Zambia), presiding, Judge Antonio CASSESE (Italy) and Judge Richard MAY (United Kingdom).