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: 31 March 2003; Appeal Judgment: 3 May 2006
Mladen Naletilić, the founder and commander of the Bosnian Croat Convicts’ Battalion based around Mostar, and Vinko Martinović, the Commander of a unit of the Convicts’ Battalion and subordinate to Mladen Naletilić, stood trial for allegedly having planned, instigated, ordered or committed, or aided and abetted, the planning, preparation, or execution of a crime against humanity through the widespread or systematic persecutions of Bosnian Muslim civilians throughout the territory claimed to belong to the HZ-HB and HR-HB through means including: unlawful confinement, detention, and forcible transfer of Bosnian Muslims; the use of torture and inhumane acts against Bosnian Muslims; murder, willful killing, and use of Bosnian Muslims as forced labor and human shields; destroying and wantonly devastating Bosnian Muslims dwellings and buildings; and plundering public and private property of Bosnian Muslims. The prosecution accused them under theories of individual and superior criminal responsibility with crimes against humanity for persecution, inhumane acts, and murder; grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for inhuman treatment, willful killing, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and unlawful transfer of a civilian; and, violations of the laws or customs of war for cruel treatment, unlawful labor, murder, wanton destruction not justified by military necessity, plunder of public or private property; the prosecution additionally charged Naletilić with torture as a crime against humanity and grave breach of the Geneva Convention, grave breach of the Geneva conventions for extensive destruction of property, and violations of the laws or customs of war for wanton destruction not justified by military necessity and seizure, destruction or willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion.
In 2003, the Trial Chamber convicted both Naletilić and Martinović on theories of individual and superior criminal liability of crimes against humanity for persecution, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health and unlawful transfer of a civilian, and for violations of laws or customs of war for unlawful labor and plunder of private or public property; the Trial Chamber additionally convicted Naletilić of torture as both a crime against humanity and a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and wanton destruction not justified by military necessity as a violation of the laws or customs of war; the Trial Chamber also convicted Martinović of crimes against humanity for inhumane acts and murder and a grave breach for inhuman treatment and willful killing.
In 2006, the Appeals Chamber dismissed the majority of Naletilić and Martinović’s appeals, but found that the Trial Chamber erred with regard to some of the convictions, but found that the sentences imposed by the Trial Chamber were still within the range a reasonable court may have ordered. The Trial Chamber sentenced Naletilić to 20 years’ imprisonment and Martinović to 18 years’ imprisonment, which were upheld by the Appeals Chamber.