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The Prosecutor v. Duško Tadić a/k/a “Dule”

Court International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Trial Chamber II, The Netherlands
Case number IT-94-1-T
Decision title Opinion and Judgment in First Instance
Decision date 7 May 1997
  • The Prosecutor
  • Duško Tadić
Categories Crimes against humanity, War crimes
Keywords crimes against humanity, cruel treatment, Grave breaches, inhumane acts, Persecutions, Prijedor, protected persons, violations of the laws or customs of war
Other countries involved
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
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After the takeover of Prijedor (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the attack launched against the town of Kozarac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 1992, the non-Serb civilians were detained in several prison facilities, where they were beaten, sexually assaulted, tortured, killed and otherwise mistreated. Duško Tadić was the President of the Local Board of the Serb Democratic Party in Kozarac (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Trial Chamber II held that the elements required for the establishment of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions have not been met. Particularly, the Muslim victims were not in the hands of the party to the conflict of which they were not nationals, since the armed forces of the Republika Srpska were not an organ or agent of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Therefore, the victims could not be seen as “protected persons” within the meaning of the Geneva Conventions; as such, Trial Chamber II acquitted Tadić of all charges of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

Trial Chamber II found Tadić guilty of crimes against humanity (persecutions and inhumane acts) and of violations of the laws or customs of war (cruel treatment). 

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Procedural history

The amended indictment was filed on 14 December 1995. The trial commenced on 7 May 1996, and closing arguments were heard between 25 and 26 November 1996.

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Related developments

On 14 July 1997, Trial Chamber II sentenced Tadić to 20 years of imprisonment. The parties appealed against this Opinion and Judgment of 7 May 1997, and Tadić further filed an appeal against the Sentencing Judgment of 14 July 1997. 

The Appeals Chamber rendered its judgment on the appeals against the Opinion and Judgment on 15 July 1999, founding that Tadić was guilty of additional counts. The Appeals Chamber remitted the issue of sentence concerning the additional counts to a Trial Chamber to be designated by the President of the Tribunal. 

On 11 November 1999, Trial Chamber II bis rendered its sentencing judgment on the additional counts, imposing a sentence of 25 years of imprisonment.

On 25 November 1999, Tadić filed a notice of appeal against the Sentencing Judgment of 11 November 1999. Pursuant to his request, the Appeals Chamber ordered that the appeal be joined with the Appeal against the Sentencing Judgment of 14 July 1997.

The Appeals Chamber rendered its judgment on 26 January 2000; it upheld the convictions for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but found that the trial Chamber had erred in the sentencing. Hence, the prison sentence was reduced to twenty years.

On 31 October 2000, Duško Tadić was transferred to Germany to serve his sentence (see ICTY, 'Duško Tadić Transferred to Germany to Serve Prison Sentence', ICTY Press Release, 31 October 2000).

On 18 June 2001, Duško Tadić filed a request for a review of his complete case, in light of the decision on contempt of the Tribunal. The Appeals Chamber dismissed the request on 30 July 2002. On 17 July 2008, Duško Tadić was granted early release.

During the Tadić procedure, contempt hearings were initiated against Milan Vujin, lead counsel for the Defence of Duško Tadić. On 31 January 2000, the Appeals Chamber found Vujin in contempt of the Tribunal and fined him. A subsequent appeal was dismissed by the Appeals Chamber on 27 February 2001 (see ICTY, 'Milan Vujin, former Counsel for Dusko Tadic, Found in Contempt of the Tribunal, and Fined 15,000 Dutch Guilders', ICTY Press Release, 31 January 2000).

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Legally relevant facts

On 30 April 1992, the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) took over control in the town of Prijedor (Bosnia and Herzegovina). On 24 May 1992, the nearby town of Kozarac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) was attacked, resulting in the killing of some 800 civilians, and the removal of non-Serbs from the town. During the attack on Kozarac, non-Serb civilians were beaten, robbed and murdered by the Serb forces. After the takeover of Prijedor and the surrounding areas, the Serb forces detained non-Serb civilians in three major prison camps: the Omarska, Keraterm, and Trnopolje camps (all near Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina). Those who were detained were subjected to beatings, sexual assaults, torture, executions, and psychological abuse. Furthermore, the detainees were held in unhygienic conditions in overcrowded rooms (para. 53 et seq.).

Duško Tadić was the President of the Local Board of the Serb Democratic Party in Kozarac (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

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Core legal questions

  • Have the elements of the charged crimes been fulfilled?
  • If so, can Duško Tadić be held liable for these crimes?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Articles 2, 3, 5 and 7(1) of the ICTY Statute.

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Court's holding and analysis

Trial Chamber II considered that “since Article 2 of the Statute is applicable only to acts committed against “protected persons” within the meaning of the Geneva Conventions, and since it cannot be said that any of the victims … were at any relevant time in the hands of a party to the conflict of which they were not nationals, the accused must be found not guilty of the counts which rely upon that Article” (para. 608). 

Trial Chamber II found Tadić “committed all of these acts against non-Serbs with the intent of furthering the establishment of a Greater Serbia and that he shared the concept that non-Serbs should forcibly be removed from the territory, thereby exhibiting a discriminatory basis for his actions and that this discrimination was on religious and political grounds” (para. 714), finding “beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime of persecution” (para. 718). 

Tadić was further found guilty of cruel treatment (as a violation of the laws or customs of war) since “those beatings and other acts which each of those Muslim victims suffered … constitute violence to their persons and that the perpetrators intended to inflict such suffering” (para. 726). These acts also “constitute inhumane acts and are crimes against humanity” (para. 730).

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited

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Related cases

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Additional materials