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The Prosecutor v. Milan Simić

Court International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Trial Chamber II, The Netherlands
Case number IT-95-9/2-S
Decision title Sentencing Judgment
Decision date 17 October 2002
  • The Prosecutor
  • Milan Simić
Categories Crimes against humanity
Keywords aggravating and mitigating circumstances, Bosanski Šamac, crimes against humanity, guilty plea, Sentence, torture
Other countries involved
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
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The events giving rise to the case have occurred in the municipality of Bosanski Šamac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 1992. After the Serb forces took over control, non-Serb civilians were detained at several prison camps throughout the municipality. One such facility was the primary school in Bosanski Šamac (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Milan Simić together with other Serb men severely beat and mistreated several detainees held at the primary school during the summer of 1992. In May 2002, Simić pleaded guilty to the crime against humanity of torture. Trial Chamber II entered a finding of guilt, and was left with the issue of determining the appropriate sentence for Simić.

With respect to the aggravating factors, Trial Chamber II accorded relevance to the gravity of the offence, Simić’s position of authority, the vulnerability and inferior status of the victims, and Simić’s discriminatory intent.

Trial Chamber II also took into consideration mitigating circumstances, including: Simić’s guilty plea, his remorse, his voluntary surrender, his lack of prior criminal conduct, his comportment at the Detention Unit and general co-operation with the Trial Chamber and the Prosecution.

After balancing these factors, Trial Chamber II sentenced Simić to 5 years of imprisonment.

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Procedural history

 Milan Simić voluntarily surrendered to the Tribunal on 14 February 1998 and his trial commenced on 10 September 2001.

On 13 May 2002, the Prosecution and Milan Simić filed a confidential Joint Motion for Consideration of a Plea Agreement. Accordingly, Simić agreed to plead guilty to two counts of torture (as crimes against humanity) and the Prosecution agreed to withdraw the remaining charges.  

The plea hearing took place on 15 May 2002, when Trial Chamber II, having satisfied itself that the prerequisite elements of a guilty plea have been met, entered a finding of guilt with respect to the two counts of torture. It further granted the Prosecution leave to withdraw the remaining counts.

A fifth amended indictment was filed on 30 May 2002.

The sentencing hearing took place on 22 July 2002.

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Related developments

On 27 October 2003, Milan Simić was granted early release. See ICTY, 'Milan Simic Granted Early Release', ICTY Press Release, 28 October 2003.

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Legally relevant facts

On 17 April 1992, Serb military forces took over control of the town of Bosanski Šamac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and, a few days later, the entire municipality. After 16 April 1992, hundreds of Muslim and Croatian men and women were detained in prison camps established in Bosanski Šamac (Bosnia and Herzegovina). On multiple occasions during the summer of 1992, Milan Simić went to the primary school in Bosanski Šamac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) which functioned as a detention facility. Between 10 June and 3 July 1992, Simić brutally beat and kicked four non-Serb prisoners at the primary school. During another incident in June 1992, another prisoner was severely beaten, humiliated, and threatened by Simić and other armed Serb men (para. 11). 

During this time, Milan Simić was a member of a territorial defence unit of the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA). On 30 May 1992, he was appointed the President of the Executive Board in the Municipality of Bosanski Šamac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) (para. 11).

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Core legal questions

  • Considering the relevant sentencing factors, what is the appropriate sentence for Milan Simić?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Article 24 of the ICTY Statute. 
  • Rules 62bis, 62ter, 100 and 101 of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence. 

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Court's holding and analysis

Considering the aggravating factors, Trial Chamber II held that “[t]here can be no doubt that the … torture acts … [were] barbaric and shocking (para. 63). In addition, Simić’s “position of authority [was] … relevant, as an aggravating factor, as Milan Simic clearly went to the primary school using his official capacity” (para. 67). Trial Chamber II further found that Simić’s “victims were in a position of inferiority and of acute vulnerability … they were defenceless and had no possibility to protect themselves” (para. 70). Trial Chamber II also considered that “the crimes were premeditated in that Milan Simić had no other reason for being at the primary school and that he specifically selected his victims who were known to him.” (para. 74). “A discriminatory intent in the commission of the particular offences to which Milan Simic pleaded guilty” (para. 77) was considered to be also an aggravating circumstance.

Trial Chamber II accorded significance to the following mitigating factors:  Simić’s guilty plea (para. 81 et seq.); his remorse (para. 90 et seq.); his voluntary surrender (para. 106 et seq.); his lack of prior criminal conduct (para. 108); his comportment at the Detention Unit and general co-operation with the Trial Chamber and the Prosecution. (para. 109 et seq.)

 Simić was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment.

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials