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: 14 December 1999; Appeal Judgment: 5 July 2001
Goran Jelisić, who acted under the authority of the Brčko police and held a position of authority at the Luka detention camp in Brčko, stood trial for allegedly having murdered, subjected to cruel or degrading treatment, raped, and stole from Bosnian Muslim detainees at the Luka camp and the surrounding area. The prosecution accused him of committing, planning, initiating, ordering or aiding and abetting in the planning, preparation or execution of the crimes of genocide of the Bosnian Muslims; crimes against humanity for murder, rape, and inhumane acts; and violations of the laws or customs of war for murder, humiliating or degrading treatment, cruel treatment, and murder.
In 1999, the Trial Chamber accepted Jelisić’s guilty plea for all charges of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war, and acquitted Jelisić of the charges of genocide, as the prosecution had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jelisić planned, incited, ordered or otherwise participated with the intent of destroying, even in part, the Bosnian Muslim population as a national, ethnic, or religious group.
In 2001, the Appeals Chamber decided the prosecution’s appeals; the Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber erred in failing to give the prosecution chance to be heard on a proprio motu decision of the Trial Chamber under Rule 98 bis, that the Trial Chamber erred by adopting the standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for the purpose of a determination of the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain a conviction for purpose of a Rule 98 bis conviction, and that these failures led to the Trial Chamber’s mistake led to an incorrect assessment of the evidence; however the Appeals Chamber declined to reverse the acquittal on charges of genocide or remit the case for further proceedings. The Trial Chamber sentenced Jelisić to 40 years’ imprisonment based on the crimes committed, as well as aggravating factors including Jelisić’s lack of remorse, enthusiasm for committing the crimes, scornful attitudes to the victims, and his sadistic nature, which were considered to outweigh any mitigating factors, including his guilty plea and age at the time of the crime.