Goran Jelisic

09.01.2012 ( Last modified: 09.06.2016 )
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facts

Goran Jelisic was born on 7 June 1968 in Bijelijna in Bosnia Herzegovina which is today in the Srpska Republic.

On 1 May 1992, the Muslim and Croatian population in the town of Brcko a municipality in Bosnia Herzegovina were advised by radio to surrender their arms. Immediately after this announcement, the Serb forces, which included soldiers, paramilitary forces and policemen, took over control of the town.

The Serb forces expelled the Muslim and Croatian population from their homes and grouped them together in assembly camps. The Muslim and Croatian men, aged between 16 and 60 years old (at an age to bear arms), as well as a few women, were then transferred to the camp at Luka.

Based on his own statements made during his guilty plea, Goran Jelisic arrived at the Brcko camp around 1 May 1992.

Between 7 and 21 May 1992, the prisoners in the Luka camp were the subject of a systematic campaign to have them eliminated.

On numerous occasions, with help from the camp guards, Goran Jelisic choose groups of detainees to be interrogated before being beaten and, very often, executed.

As a general rule, the victims were shot at point blank range with a bullet to the head or in the back.

Overall, Goran Jelisic was found guilty of the murder of a total of 13 people, of inflicting cruel treatment on 4 people and of stealing money from 4 detainees at the Luka camp. However, it remains possible that he killed or battered many more than this. In this respect, he is reported to have declared to a prisoner on 15 May 1992, that he was at his “eighty third affair”.

Goran Jelisic was arrested by the SFOR (Multinational Stabilisation force for Bosnia-Herzegovina) on 22 January 1998. He was transferred to the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia), on the same day.

legal procedure

Goran Jelisic was born on 7 June 1968 in Bijelijna in Bosnia Herzegovina which is today in the Srpska Republic.

On 1 May 1992, the Muslim and Croatian population in the town of Brcko a municipality in Bosnia Herzegovina were advised by radio to surrender their arms. Immediately after this announcement, the Serb forces, which included soldiers, paramilitary forces and policemen, took over control of the town.

The Serb forces expelled the Muslim and Croatian population from their homes and grouped them together in assembly camps. The Muslim and Croatian men, aged between 16 and 60 years old (at an age to bear arms), as well as a few women, were then transferred to the camp at Luka.

Based on his own statements made during his guilty plea, Goran Jelisic arrived at the Brcko camp around 1 May 1992.

Between 7 and 21 May 1992, the prisoners in the Luka camp were the subject of a systematic campaign to have them eliminated.

On numerous occasions, with help from the camp guards, Goran Jelisic choose groups of detainees to be interrogated before being beaten and, very often, executed.

As a general rule, the victims were shot at point blank range with a bullet to the head or in the back.

Overall, Goran Jelisic was found guilty of the murder of a total of 13 people, of inflicting cruel treatment on 4 people and of stealing money from 4 detainees at the Luka camp. However, it remains possible that he killed or battered many more than this. In this respect, he is reported to have declared to a prisoner on 15 May 1992, that he was at his “eighty third affair”.

Goran Jelisic was arrested by the SFOR (Multinational Stabilisation force for Bosnia-Herzegovina) on 22 January 1998. He was transferred to the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia), on the same day.

spotlight

By its judgment, the Trial Chamber made a contribution to international humanitarian law by detailing two important elements:

– Definition of ‘hors de combat’:
“Common Article 3 protects ‘[p]ersons taking no active part in the hostilities’ including persons ‘placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause.’ Victims of murder, bodily harm and theft, all placed hors de combat by their detention, are clearly protected persons within the meaning of common Article 3.” (Jelisic, Trial Chamber, December 14, 1999, §. 34)

– Definition of genocide:
“ Genocide is characterised by two legal ingredients according to the terms of Article 4
of the Statute:
– the material element of the offence, constituted by one or several acts enumerated in
paragraph 2 of Article 4;
– the mens rea of the offence, consisting of the special intent to destroy, in whole or in
part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”.
(Jelisic, Trial Chamber, December 14, 1999, §. 62).

context

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

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 JURISDICTIONS

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.