This case summary is part of a collection of summaries describing the cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). See the Online Resource Hub pages on the ICTY and International Criminal Law, and the table of ICTY case summaries for additional information.
Trial Judgment: 1 September 2004; Appeal Judgmen: 3 April 2007
Radoslav Brđanin, a leading Bosnian Serb political figure in the ARK and eventual acting vice-president of the Republika Srpska, stood trial for allegedly having planned, instigated, ordered or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation, or execution of genocide, torture, persecutions, exterminations, deportations, and wanton destruction of the property of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serbs in municipalities and in camps and detention facilities staffed and operated by military and police personnel under the direction of the VRS in BiH. The prosecution accused Brđanin, under theories of joint criminal enterprise and individual and superior criminal liability, of genocide and complicity in genocide; crimes against humanity for persecutions, exterminations, torture, deportation, and inhumane acts of forcible transfer; grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for willful killing, torture, and wanton destruction of property not justified by military necessity; and violations of the laws or customs of war for wanton destruction of cities or towns not justified by military necessity, and destruction to institutions dedicated to religion.
In 2004, the Trial Chamber convicted Brđanin of individual criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity for persecutions, torture, deportation, and inhumane acts of forcible transfer; violations of the laws or customs of war for wanton destruction of cities, devastation not justified by military necessity, and destruction or willful damage done to religious institutions; and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for willful killing and torture. The Trial Chamber dismissed the theory of superior criminal liability because though Brđanin had de facto control over the municipal authorities and police, he did not have effective control over these organizations that would allow him to prevent or punish the commission of crimes by those other actors; additionally, the Trial Chamber rejected the theory of joint criminal enterprise on the grounds that it was inappropriate given the extraordinarily broad nature of the case and the remoteness of Brđanin from the crimes committed as part of the enterprise.
In 2007, the Appeals Chamber heard Brđanin’s appeals and found that the Trial Chamber erred when it inferred that Brđanin’s failure to prevent torture in the camps and detention facilities had the effect of encouraging other personnel in the camps to commit torture; the Appeals Chamber also heard the prosecution’s appeals and determined that the Trial Chamber erred when it found that the doctrine of joint criminal enterprise only applied to smaller-scale cases, but determined that it would be unfair to convict Brđanin of new crimes on this theory. The Trial Chamber sentenced Brđanin to 32 years’ imprisonment, which was reduced to 30 years’ imprisonment by the Appeals Chamber.