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Hague Prosecution Rejects ‘Biased Verdict’ Claim

4. July 2013.00:00
The Hague prosecution has asked the Tribunal to reject the proposed quashing of Bosnian Army general Rasim Delic’s sentence over alleged bias revealed by one of the court’s judges.

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The prosecution said that the Hague court didn’t have the right to quash Delic’s war crimes conviction because he was no longer alive.

Delic’s defence has demanded that the verdict on the now-deceased general be overturned after media published a controversial letter by Tribunal judge Frederik Harhoff criticising the Hague court and alleging that some of its recent verdicts could have been the result of political pressure.

But prosecutor Peter Kremer said the court didn’t have the jurisdiction to do this

“The Tribunal’s jurisdiction over persons is limited to living accused or convicted persons,” said Kremer.

“As a result, no one else can initiate a review proceeding on behalf of Delic,” he said.

Delic’s defence has filed a motion to with the Tribunal’s president, Theodor Meron, alleging that judge Harhoff reveals an unacceptable bias towards conviction.

It claimed that this bias could have been a decisive factor in reaching the final decision to Rasim Delic, considering Harhoff was part of the three-member first-instance trial chamber which convicted Delic in a two-to-one vote.

However the prosecution said that the defence’s motion did not adequately establish the grounds for a case review.

“Contrary to the motion’s suggestion, Judge Harhoff’s letter to his friends simply expresses his personal view that military commanders should be held responsible where appropriate for their subordinates’ crimes. This does not reveal a pro-prosecution bias, particularly with respect to Delic’s case,” said Kremer.

In his letter, emailed to friends but later leaked to the media last month, Harhoff said that he had heard that Tribunal president Meron allegedly put pressure on other judges to approve the acquittals in recent months of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, Yugoslav general Momcilo Perisic and Serbian security officials Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic.

Delic, the commander of the Bosnian Army’s main headquarters, was convicted in 2008 of “having failed to undertake the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or sanction the crimes” committed by Muslim volunteer fighters against Serb prisoners in the village of Livade and the Kamenica detention camp in the summer of 1995.

He died a year later.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian