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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 Sentencing Judgment in First Instance
Decision date 14 July 1997
  • The Prosecutor
  • Duško Tadić
Categories Crimes against humanity, War crimes
Keywords aggravating and mitigating circumstances, crimes against humanity, Prijedor, Sentence, war crimes
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 found Duško Tadić guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In order to determine the appropriate sentence, Trial Chamber II balanced several sentencing factors. Trial Chamber II, when assessing the aggravating factors, took into consideration the gravity of the offences and Tadić’s awareness of, and support for the attacks against the non-Serb civilians. However, Trial Chamber II considered that Tadić had an unimportant leadership and organisational role in the commission of the crimes.

Trial Chamber II also affirmed its previous findings that crimes against humanity are more serious offences than war crimes and as such, attract higher sentences. The reason for this lies in the widespread or systematic scale and the quantity of the crimes, having a qualitative impact on the nature of the offence which is seen as a crime against humanity as a whole.

Tadić was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.

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Procedural history

The amended indictment was filed on 14 December 1995. The trial commenced on 7 May 1996, and Trial Chamber II rendered its judgment on 7 May 1997, finding Tadić guilty of violations of the laws or customs of war and crimes against humanity.

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Related developments

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 Juanuary 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. of the judgment rendered by Trial Chamber II on 7 May 1997).

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

  • Considering the relevant sentencing factors, what is the appropriate sentenced for Duško Tadić?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Article 24 of the ICTY Statute.
  • Rules 100 and 101 of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

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Court's holding and analysis

Trial Chamber II considered that “[e]ach of the offences was committed in circumstances that could not but aggravate the crimes and the suffering of its victims” (para. 56). Furthermore, Trial Chamber II “has taken into consideration in the imposition of an appropriate sentence Duško Tadić’s awareness of, and enthusiastic support for, the attack on the non-Serb civilian population” (para. 57).

Turning to the mitigating factors, Trial Chamber II found that “Duško Tadić cannot be considered to have played an important leadership or organisational role in the events in opština Prijedor [Bosnia and Herzegovina] in the middle of 1992” (para. 60).

Trial Chamber II further confirmed that “[a] prohibited act committed as part of a crime against humanity, that is with an awareness that the act formed part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population, is, all else being equal, a more serious offence than an ordinary war crime. This follows from the requirement that crimes against humanity be committed on a widespread or systematic scale, the quantity of the crimes having a qualitative impact on the nature of the offence which is seen as a crime against more than just the victims themselves but against humanity as a whole” (para. 73).

Duško Tadić was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.

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Further analysis

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Instruments cited

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Related cases

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Additional materials