skip navigation

The Prosecutor v. Miroslav Bralo

Court International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Appeals Chamber, The Netherlands
Case number IT-95-17-A
Decision title Judgment on Sentencing Appeal
Decision date 2 April 2007
  • The Prosecutor
  • Miroslav Bralo
Categories Crimes against humanity, Torture, War crimes
Keywords crimes against humanity, Grave breaches, war crimes, guilty plea, Sentence, mitigating circumstances
Other countries involved
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
back to top


Between April and July 1993 the village of Ahmići (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and its surroundings were subjected to an ethnic cleansing targeting the Muslim population. Miroslav Bralo, also known as “Cicko”, actively participated in these attacks as a member of a unit of the Croatian Defence Council. He pleaded guilty to crimes against humanity and war crimes and Trial Chamber III, subsequently, found him guilty and sentenced him to 20 years of imprisonment.

Bralo appealed the sentencing judgment of 7 December 2005, challenging Trial Chamber III's assessment of the factors which guided it in determining the final sentence.

Bralo adduced three grounds of appeal. In the first one he argued that Trial Chamber III made an error when it classified certain factors as irrelevant to his sentence. The second ground challenged the Chamber's assessment of the factors which it did take into consideration as relevant for Bralo's sentence. In the last ground, Bralo claimed that Trial Chamber III did not reduce his sentence adequately, considering the volume and relevance of the mitigating circumstances.

The Appeals Chamber did not find any error in the findings of Trial Chamber III and dismissed all three grounds of Bralo's appeal. Subsequently, his sentence of 20 years was affirmed.

back to top

Procedural history

The amended indictment was filed on 19 July 2005.  

The Office of the Prosecutor filed a plea agreement on 19 July 2005. Subsequently, Miroslav Bralo pleaded guilty to eight counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.  

The sentencing judgment was handed down on 7 December 2005.

Miroslav Bralo appealed the judgment submitting his appeal brief on 30 March 2006 raising three grounds of appeal challenging the sentence imposed by Trial Chamber III.

back to top

Related developments

On 1 November 2007, Miroslav Bralo was transferred to Sweden to serve his sentence.

back to top

Legally relevant facts

The events underlying the case occurred between April and July 1993 in the Central Bosnian villages of Ahmići, Nadioći and surrounding areas. During the time of the indictment, Miroslav Bralo was a member of an anti-terrorist unit, called ‘Jokers’, within the Croatian Defence Council (para. 2). On 16 April 1993, Bralo participated in an attack against the village of Ahmići which aimed at ethnically cleansing the area through killing Muslim men of military age, burning Muslim residences and expelling the Muslim population from the area.

Miroslav Bralo pleaded guilty to eight counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity against him in July 2005. Trial Chamber III accepted the guilty plea and entered convictions accordingly (para. 3). In its sentencing judgment of 7 December 2005, Trial Chamber III imposed a sentence of 20 years of imprisonment (para. 4).

Bralo challenged this sentence on the grounds that Trial Chamber III did not adequately assess the mitigating factors in the case which, therefore, resulted in a manifestly excessive sentence (para. 6).

back to top

Core legal questions

  • Was there any error in the assessment of sentence made by Trial Chamber III?
  • Can the Appeals Chamber uphold any of the grounds adduced by the Appellant?

back to top

Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Articles 23, 24 and 25 of the ICTY Statute.
  • Rules 100, 106, 117 and 118 of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

back to top

Court's holding and analysis

Miroslav Bralo adduced three grounds of appeal.

In his first ground, Bralo argued that Trial Chamber III erroneously considered certain factors as being irrelevant to his sentence. However, the Appeals Chamber found“that the Trial Chamber did not abuse its discretion or commit a discernible error in not taking into account as mitigating circumstances [the factors adduced by Bralo]” (para. 26).

The second ground alleged that Trial Chamber III erroneously assessed the weight of Bralo's individual circumstances, the value of his cooperation, and his public statement of remorse. The Appeals Chamber disagreed, stating that “when weighing [the] specific personal circumstances, the Trial Chamber rightly considered the gravity of the crimes committed” (para. 34). Furthermore, the Appeals Chamber held that Trial Chamber III duly took into account Bralo's cooperation with the Tribunal, the Prosecution, the people of Ahmići in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as his remorse (paras. 48, 70, 73, 76).

In his last ground of appeal, Bralo argued that Trial Chamber III should have imposed a lighter sentence taking into consideration the significance of the mitigating circumstances. However, the Appeals Chamber found no errors in the assessment of Trial Chamber III (para. 78 et seq.). 

As a result, the Appeals Chamber, dismissing all three grounds, affirmed Miroslav Bralo's sentence of 20 years of imprisonment.

back to top

Further analysis

back to top

Instruments cited

back to top

Additional materials