COURTSIDE: Celebici Trial

Defendants in the Celebici case set to appeal against sentencing once more.

COURTSIDE: Celebici Trial

Defendants in the Celebici case set to appeal against sentencing once more.

Saturday, 13 October, 2001

The tribunal's longest ongoing trial, the Celebici case, looks set to continue as its three defendants plan to challenge the adjusted sentences handed down to them in the trial chamber last week.

It was in November 1998, that Zdravko Mucic, Hazim Delic and Esad Landzo, were originally found guilty and sentenced for crimes against Bosnian Serbs during 1992 at the Celebici camp near Konjic - a camp jointly held by Muslims and Bosnian Croats.

The judgement and the sentences were first challenged in the appeals chamber in summer 2000. A ruling was issued in February 2001. It then appointed a new trial chamber that subsequently met to decide if the sentences should be revised in light of the appeal judgement. It made its decision public last week.

In the case of the Celebici camp's commander, Zdravko Mucic, the trial chamber followed the recommendation of the appeal judgement and increased his sentence from seven to nine years in prison. Found guilty of murder, torture and inhuman treatment, committed by his subordinates, the appeals chamber found that the original sentence did not have sufficient regard for the gravity of Mucic's offences or his criminal conduct.

Mucic's deputy, Hazim Delic, was found guilty of personally committing murder, torture and rape, himself. The trial chamber ruled that the original sentence of 20 years imprisonment should be reduced to 18 years following the quashing of one of Delic's murder convictions by the appeals chamber.

Esad Landzo and the other two defendants also appealed on the basis of cumulative convictions, which means that if one is found guilty of a crime which falls under both Article II (Grave Breaches of the Geneva Convention) and Article III (Violations of The Laws and Customs Of War) of the tribunal statute, one should be convicted only of the former.

The appeals chamber said it was not necessary to charge the defendants under both Articles and

that it was up to the trial chamber to decide whether there was any need to reduce the defendants' sentences. The latter ruled there wasn't, saying that "the totality of the criminal conduct of the accused has not been reduced by reason of quashing cumulative convictions".

It was this and other details in the trial chamber's judgement that prompted the defence counsel to announce an appeal. It is not known whether the prosecution will also be appealing.

Vjera Bogati is an IWPR special correspondent at The Hague and journalist with SENSE News Agency.

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