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: 29 November 1996; Appeal Judgment: 7 October 1997
Dražen Erdemović, a soldier in a the VRS, was the first individual sentenced by the ICTY and stood trial for allegedly having carried out summary executions of unarmed men from Srebrenica at the Pilica Farm collective on or about 16 July 1995, along with other members of his unit and another brigade. The prosecution accused him of a crime against humanity for murder and, in the alternative, a violation of the laws or customs of war.
In 1996, the ICTY Trial Chamber heard Erdemović’s guilty plea on the count of crime against humanity during which he stated that he performed the summary executions under duress and threat of death.
In 1997, the Appeals Chamber found that the guilty plea entered by Erdemović was not informed and that Erdemović did not understand the nature of the charges, and that he plead guilty to the more serious offense which entailed a heavier penalty, and ordered the case be remitted to the Trial Chambers; in 1998, Erdemović plead guilty to a charge of the violation of the laws or customs of war. Erdemović was initially was sentenced to 10-year imprisonment; after the case was remitted back to the Trial Chamber, the Trial Chamber issued a five year sentence.