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The Tadic Pre-Sentencing Hearing

Tribunal Update 35: Last Week in The Hague (June 30 - July 5, 1997)

That, in a nutshell, was the essence of the five-day pre-sentencing hearing in the case of Tadic, whom Trial Chamber II had found guilty of six counts of crimes against humanity and five counts of war crime.

During the hearing, whose purpose was to enable the prosecution and the defence to point out any aggravating or mitigating circumstances which might help the judges decide the length of the sentence, the defence brought seven witnesses: Tadic's relatives (his wife, his 17-year-old daughter and his brother), friends and acquaintances, and experts in Yugoslav criminal law and psychiatry.

His friends and relations described Tadic as an "exemplary husband", a "kind father", a "fine man", with an "artistic nature", "a friend of Muslims and Croats", an "opponent of the war", and so on, who, they insisted, "couldn't stand the sight of blood" and "was unable to slaughter a chicken, never mind a pig."

The Yugoslav jurist described the country's penal system as probably the most humane in the world, with a maximum sentence of 15 years' imprisonment, and which emphasised the rehabilitation of convicts. The German court psychiatrist, who had interrogated Tadic after his arrest in 1994, said that he had not discovered any signs of aggression, sadism, or psychological disorder in Tadic, on which basis the prosecutor suggested that there were no mitigating psychological factors.

According to the prosecutor, a crime against humanity - of which the accused was found guilty on six counts - is, after genocide, the most heinous crime that anyone can be convicted of, and the national criminal laws universally prescribe the most severe penalty for this offence. A particularly serious and evil crime, according to the prosecutor, was the crime of persecution described in Count 1 of the indictment, which Tadic committed "out of greed, hatred, jealousy, bigotry and intolerance."

With respect to Count 1, the Trial Chamber consideration should - according to the prosecutor - "commence with a sentence of life imprisonment." In respect to other counts of crimes against humanity, the Trial Chamber "might consider imposing a very severe sentence of less than life imprisonment, but for such sentence to be served concurrent with the sentence of life imprisonment."

In the prosecutor's submission, the given war crimes counts "should attract a lesser penalty than the crimes against humanity counts, and these too should be served concurrent with all other sentences."

Trial Chamber II will pass sentence on Monday, July 14.

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