Esad Landzo

09.01.2012 ( Last modified: 09.06.2016 )
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Esad Landzo was born on 7 March 1973. During the war he was a guard at the Celebici prison camp from around May 1992 until December 1992.

Celibici is a village in the Konjic municipality of central Bosnia. Konjic was of strategic interest because it was the site of an arms and munitions factory as well as being an important communications link between Mostar and Sarajevo. Before the war the municipality had a population of around 45’000 inhabitants of which 55% were Muslims, 26% Croats and 15% Serbs.

On 25 June 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence from Yugoslavia. In Croatia, fighting broke out during the summer of 1991 between the Yugoslav’s People’s Army (JNA) and the Croatian armed forces. With the war being protracted in Croatia, it became probable that Bosnia-Herzegovina would also declare itself independent from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). The Serb Democratic Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina (SDS), realising that it could not keep Bosnia-Herzegovina within the SFRY, went on to create a distinct Serb entity within the boundaries of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On 9 January 1992, the Serb Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina was proclaimed and subsequently given the new designation of Republika Srpska on 12 August 1992.

On 1 March 1992, the Croatian and Muslim populations declared their independence from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

From end May 1992, armed forces made up of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats attacked and seized control of certain villages in the municipality of Konjic and its surroundings which were populated in the majority by Bosnian Serbs. The attackers expelled the Serb residents by force from their houses and held them in detention centres. The majority of the men and some of the women were marched off to camps previously held by the JNA in Celibici. Here, these prisoners were murdered, tortured, subjected to sexual violence, beaten up and, in general terms, subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. The majority of the detainees were imprisoned at Celibici from around May 1992 until about October 1992, although some of them were held until December 1992.

Esad Landzo took advantage of his position as camp guard to mete out ill treatment to the detainees. He also abused his position by committing murder and by practicing torture and cruel treatment.

Esad Landzo was arrested by the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina on 2 May 1996. He was transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 13 June 1996.


legal procedure

Esad Landzo was arrested by the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina on 2 May 1996. He was transferred to the ICTY on 13 June 1996.

He appeared before the court for the first time on 18 June 1996 and pleaded not guilty to the 24 counts with which he was charged.

On 16 November 1998, the First Trial Chamber found him guilty on 17 counts and sentenced him to 15 years in prison on the basis of his individual responsibility (Art. 7 § 1 ICTY Statute) for:

– violations of the laws and customs of war (Art. 3 ICTY Statute): murder, cruel treatment, torture and pillage;
– serious breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions (Art. 2 ICTY Statute): wilful murder, torture, wilfully causing intense suffering or of inflicting serious bodily injury, and inhumane treatment.

On 20 February 2001, the Appeals Chamber threw out the charges related to the violations of the laws and customs of war (Art. 3 ICTY Statute) on the grounds that these were cumulative convictions (Art. 2 ICTY Statute and Art. 3 ICTY Statute) In effect, if the offence is one and the same, it cannot be judged on the basis of two different articles. In the case in point, the accused should have been judged solely with respect to Art. 2 of the Statute of the ICTY. Since this rectification could have had an influence over the length of the sentence, the case was therefore sent back to the First Trial Chamber for further review.

On 9 October 2001, Esad Landzo’s sentence was reviewed and maintained at 15 years imprisonment.

On 8 April 2003, the Appeals Chamber rejected his appeal against this conviction.

Esad Landzo was transferred to Finland on 9 July 2003 to serve out the rest of his sentence.





The conflict in former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1999, shocked international public opinion because of the abuses revealed by the press, which were committed by all parties to the conflict (massacres, forced displacements of population, concentration camps …). The conflict is considered to consist of several separate conflicts, which were ethnic in nature – the war in Slovenia (1991), the war in Croatia (1991-1995), the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995) and the war Kosovo (1998-1999), which also involved the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

The conflicts accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia, when the constituent republics declared their independence. The wars mostly ended after peace accords were signed, and new republics were given full international recognition of their statehood.

In order to restore peace and security in the region, the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of UN Charter, created on 25 May 1993, by Resolution 827, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It was determined that pursuant to numerous reports of, among other, mass killings, systematic detention, rapes, practice of “ethnic cleansing”, transfers, etc., these acts constituted a threat to international peace and security, necessitating a reaction by Security Council. As the Tribunal was created during the ongoing conflict, the Security Council expressed its hopes that ICTY would contribute to halting violations in the region. Its headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Tribunal has jurisdiction to prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law – grave breaches of Geneva Conventions, violations of laws and customs of war, genocide and crimes against humanity – allegedly committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia after 1 January 1991, (no end date was specified). Since its creation, the ICTY has indicted more than 160 people, including heads of states and government members.

The Tribunal’s mandate was originally meant to expire on 31 December 2009, but the Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the Court with several judges, including permanent judges, so that the ongoing trials can be completed. According to the “ICTY Completion Strategy Report” from 18 May 2011, all trials were supposed to be completed by the end of 2012, and all the appeals by the end of 2015. The exceptions were cases of Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.

The Security Council adopted resolution 1966 on 22 December 2010, establishing International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The ICTY residual mechanism began functioning on 1 July 2013.

The Tribunal was called to finish its work by the end of 2014, in order to prepare closure and transfer of cases to the Residual Mechanism. The Mechanism is a small and temporary body, which plays important role in ensuring that the completion strategy of ICTY does not result in impunity of fugitives and in injustice. It is conducting all outstanding first instance trials, including those of Karadzic, Mladic and Hadzic. It is also to complete all appeals proceedings that were filed before 1 July 2013.

The ICTY is not the only court with jurisdiction to try alleged perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal has concurrent jurisdiction with national courts. However, it takes precedence over them and may require the referral from the national court at any stage of the proceedings (Article 9 of the ICTY Statute). The Statute does not elaborate how the primacy is to be exercised, but it was asserted by the judges of the ICTY in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The primacy can be asserted in three cases: when an international crime is intentionally or unwittingly prosecuted before national court as an “ordinary criminal offence”, when a national court is unreliable, or when the case is closely related, or may be relevant to other cases being tried by the ICTY.


National courts also have jurisdiction to prosecute alleged perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law.

In the former Yugoslavia, the trials of those accused of war crimes have been opened by the courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Section for War Crimes was set up in the Criminal and Appellate Divisions of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Special Chamber for War Crimes has jurisdiction to prosecute the most serious alleged war crimes committed in Bosnia, and was created to relieve the ICTY, so that it can focus on criminals of high rank. Its establishment was also considered necessary for effective war crimes prosecution in Bosnia. The opening of the Special Chamber was on 9 March 2005.

Additionally, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from 10 June 1999, UN administration was created in Kosovo. Consequently, in 2000 “Regulation 64” Panels in Courts of Kosovo were created, which are mixed chambers at the local courts. They have two international judges and one national. These panels work in collaboration with the ICTY. They have jurisdiction over those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. They focus on prosecuting lower ranking offenders.

In Serbia, the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor was established on 1 July 2003. It was created to detect and prosecute perpetrators of criminal offenses against humanity and international law, and offences recognised by the ICTY Statute, regardless of the nationality, citizenship, race or religion of the perpetrator and the victim, as long as the acts were committed on the territory of former Yugoslavia after 1 January 1991. Its seat is in Belgrade, Serbia.

Other relevant national jurisdictions are under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows states with a specific legal basis, to try perpetrators of serious crimes regardless of their nationality or that of the victims and regardless of where the crime was committed.


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