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The Prosecutor v. Tomo Jurinović

Court Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, War Crimes Chamber (Section I), Appellate Panel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Case number X-KR-08/642
Decision title Decision on Transfer of Criminal Proceedings
Decision date 22 April 2009
  • The Prosecutor
  • Tomo Jurinović
Categories War crimes
Keywords attack on civilian population, common Article 3, jurisdiction, Non-international armed conflict, unlawful confinement, war crimes
Other countries involved
  • Croatia (Hrvatska)
  • Serbia-Montenegro
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During the armed conflict that took place in the territory of the former Yugoslavia pitting Bosnian Muslims against Bosnian Croats, the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) was the official military formation of the Bosnian Croats. The Accused, Tomo Jurinović, was a member of the HVO wing in Kotor Varoš. On 31 July 1992, he is alleged to have forcibly removed a family from their home in Novo Selo with three other members of the HVO. The family was then marched to the village of Ravne where they were detained by the Accused and others on the premises of a school. During this march, the family was routinely abused and one of its members died.

The Accused was indicted for war crimes by the Prosecutor’s Office in the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Upon request of the Prosecutor and with support of counsel for the Accused, the Court decided to transfer the case to the court of Banja Luka. The factors that were taken into consideration by the Court included the simplicity of the case by comparison to others before the Court (the Accused did not occupy the role of a commander, there was only one deceased, the case concerned one incident), the workload of the Court and the Prosecutor’s Office and the expenses that could be saved by transferring the case. 

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Procedural history

On 10 February 2009, the Prosecutor of the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina filed an indictment against the Accused, Tomo Jurinović for two counts of war crimes: attack against a civilian population and unlawful detention of civilians. In the indictment, the Prosecutor also requested that the case be transferred to the lower court with territorial jurisdiction, in this case, the court of Banja Luka.

On 12 February 2009, the Court confirmed the indictment. On 13 March 2009, the Accused pleaded not guilty at a plea hearing before Section I of the War Crimes Chamber.

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Related developments

On 8 May 2009, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina amended the present decision transferring jurisdiction to the Court in Banja Luka in so far as it contained typographical errors related to the date of the indictment and the date of confirmation of the indictment.

In September 2010, the Court of Banja Luka sentenced Jurinović to one years’ imprisonment.

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Legally relevant facts

The Accused was a member of the Kotor Varoš Croatioan Defence Council (HVO). On 31 July 1992, it is alleged that the Accused together with three other members of the HVO, came to the village of Novo Selo and took out one family frokm their home. The Accused and others then proceeded to march the family in the direction of the village of Ravne, abusing them in the meanwhile. One of the family members was killed in the course of this march. The remainder of the family was detained by the Accused and others on the premises of a school in Ravne (indictment).

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Articles 173(1)(a)(e) and 180(1) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
  • Article 51(1),(2),(3) of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and related to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflict.

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Court's holding and analysis

The Appellate Section of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina granted the motion of the Prosecutor’s Office submitted to the Chamber with the Indictment against the Accused to the effect that the criminal trial against the Accused is transferred to the District Court of Banja Luka as it is the court with territorial jurisdiction (p. 1). The Court reasoned that the complexity of the case and the criminal offences with which the Accused is charged are less serious than those of other perpetrators tried before the Court, and the excessive and complex case load of both the Court and the Prosecutor’s Office constitute “important reasons” for the transfer of the case to a lower jurisdiction as provided for in Article 27 in the Code of Criminal Procedure for Bosnia and Herzegovina (pp. 2-3).

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials

Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Press Releases: