Jackie Arklov

28.10.2015 ( Last modified: 14.06.2016 )
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Jackie Arklöv was born in Liberia on 6 June 1973. Since Arklöv´s mother did not have enough resources to provide for Arklöv and his sister, she decided to put them up for adoption. Arklöv was adopted by a couple from Sweden.

At the age of 17, Arklöv joined the military service in Arvidsjaur and during this year he also came in contact with the neo-nazi movement which he joined and actively supported. When he was decline entry to the second level of the military service, in 1992, he went to Marseille in France to join the French Foreign Legion. However, he decided to go to Croatia to fight for the Croatian Defence Council (Hrvatsko vijeće obrane, HVO) in the Bosnian war.

During the Croatian War of Independence, Arklöv, who was 20-years-old at this time, worked as a guard at Gabela and Grabovina detention camps. He allegedly tortured and mistreated his victims as well as degrading their dignity, in particular, as to their religious and ethnic background. The acts of torture and mistreatment that Arklöv has admitted to include inter alia; 1) seriously abusing a man and later forcing him to walk on a mine field filled with dead bodies; 2) forcing a pregnant women down on her knees and placing his gun barrel into her mouth, threatening to kill both her and her unborn baby whilst the other soldiers kicked her in the back repeatedly.

In 1995 Arklöv was arrested in the town Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.


legal procedure

In 1995 Arklöv was arrested in the town Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On 8 September 1995, he was convicted for war crimes committed against prisoners of war and civilians by a Bosnian court and sentenced to 13 years in prison. However, this sentence was later reduced to 8 years due to Arklöv´s young age. Due to an exchange of prisoners, organized by the Swedish Red Cross, he returned to Sweden, where he was acquitted for lack of evidence.

During an attempted bank robbery on 28 May 1999 (to fund a new neo-nazi-organization), Arklöv shot dead two policemen on the run near Malexander. On 31 May 1999, he was arrested and placed in custody by the Swedish police. In spite of persistent denial, Arklöv was convicted for murder, based on clear evidence (fingerprints and DNA) and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 2004 the Swedish investigative authorities re-opened the investigations regarding the alleged war crimes in Bosnia, thanks to new testimonies. On 10 November 2006 the proceedings before the District Court in Stockholm began. Arklöv pleaded guilty.

On 18 December 2006, Arklöv was sentenced to eight years in prison for the crimes committed in Bosnia Herzegovinia en 1993. He was found guilty for the torture of 11 prisoners of war and civilians. He was also ordered to pay a compensation to the victims.

A new investigation was carried out in 2007 regarding further alleged war crimes committed by Arklöv in Bosnia. However, due to lack of evidence no new charges were brought by the prosecutors in Sweden.

In 2010 the District Court of Örebro rejected Arklöv´s application for a set date of release from his life imprisonment sentence.



Arklöv’s trial is the first trial in Sweden concerning violations of international humanitarian law pursuant to the Geneva Conventions.




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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