Delic Defence Appeals Conviction

It says Bosnian general did not have effective control over mujahedin fighters at any time.

Delic Defence Appeals Conviction

It says Bosnian general did not have effective control over mujahedin fighters at any time.

Saturday, 10 January, 2009
Lawyers for the former chief of the Bosnian army filed an appeal with the Hague tribunal this week in a bid to have his conviction for crimes committed by forces under his command overturned.

General Rasim Delic was sentenced to three years in prison in September last year, after he was judged to be responsible for the mistreatment of captured Bosnian Serb soldiers by members of the Muslim fighting force known as the mujahedin.

The trial chamber ruled that the mujahedin – or El Mujahed Detachment, EMD – had been subordinate to the 3rd Corps of the Bosnian army and, as head of the army, Delic therefore commanded them.

Delic was found to be responsible for the foreign fighters’ crimes in the village of Livade and in the Kamenica camp in central Bosnia in July and August in 1995. In certain incidents, the mujahedin mistreated 12 Bosnian Serbs, by administering severe beatings and electric shocks, said the judgement. The captives were also forced to kiss the severed heads of other detainees.

However, judges acquitted him of responsibility for other crimes committed by the group in 1993, ruling that at that point, the unit was not under his effective control.

In their judgement, the trial chamber could not agree on the level of control Delic exercised over the mujahedin at various stages of the conflict.

Significantly, the decision to convict Delic of responsibility for the crimes in 1995 was made by a majority of two judges to one, with presiding judge Bacone Moloto drawing the opposite conclusion.

In their appeal brief, Delic’s lawyers pressed Judge Moloto’s dissenting view.

“[Delic] did not have effective control over the EMD at any time, from the time of his assumption of duties as the Commander of the Main Staff… until the EMD was disbanded,” said Moloto.

“The EMD carried out the tasks given by the ABiH, Bosnian army, only when it chose to do so.”

Delic’s lawyers highlighted evidence which they argue was overlooked by the two judges in ruling that he gained control of the mujahedin in 1995.

The lawyers submitted that although documents suggest the EMD was re-subordinated to the 35th division of the Bosnian army in March 1995, it refused to carry out orders.

They also opposed the judges’ finding that Delic knew about the crimes or knew that the crimes were going to be committed.

To support their arguments, Delic’s defence team said there was a lack of conventional reporting by the EMD to the Bosnian army.

They also cited the judges’ majority finding that the EMD did not allow the army’s other units to enter its premises.

Both of these factors, it said, were evidence that Delic lacked effective control and command of the mujahedin.

No firm date has yet been set for the appeal hearing.

Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.
Support our journalists