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Trial Judgment: 2 December 2003; Appeal Judgment: 8 March 2006
Momir Nikolić, the Assistant Commander for Security and Intelligence of the Bratunac Brigade of the VRS, stood trial for allegedly having committed, planned, instigated, ordered, and otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation, and execution of genocide, exterminations, murder, persecutions, and forcible transfer of Bosnian Muslims in the Srebrenica, Bratunac, and Potočari areas. The prosecution accused him of individual criminal responsibility as a member of a joint criminal enterprise for genocide; crimes against humanity for extermination, murder, persecutions, and inhumane acts of forcible transfer; and violations of the laws or customs of war for murder.
In 2003, the Trial Chamber accepted Nikolić’s guilty plea for crimes against humanity for persecutions. In 2006, the Appeals Chamber decided Nikolić’s appeal on his sentence, and found that the Trial Chamber erred when it considered Nikolić’s role in the crimes both in determining the seriousness of the crime and then as an aggravating factor, which led the same issue to be considered twice, and that the Trial Chamber made mistakes when assessing Nikolić’s cooperation with the prosecution and therefore attached insufficient weight to the mitigating factor; the Appeals Chamber also determined that the Trial Chamber relied upon a false translation of defense counsel’s remarks, which incorrectly translated “around 7,000 men were killed” to “only 7,000 persons were killed in this campaign,” leading to shock in the Trial Chamber, with the result that the translation error had a negative influence on the determination of Nikolić’s sentence. The Trial Chamber sentenced Nikolić to 27 years’ imprisonment, which was reduced to 20 years’ imprisonment on appeal.