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Tadic Sentencing Hearing: Prosecutor Asked For 35 Years Imprisonment

Tribunal Update 147: Last Week in The Hague (11-16 October, 1999)

The Appeals Chamber pronounced Tadic guilty on July 15, 1999 (See Tribunal Update No. 134) on nine more counts of the indictment, in addition to the 11 counts for which he had been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on May 7, 1997.

Of the nine new counts, six refer to the crimes for which Tadic had Already been found guilty in the original verdict and sentenced. At that time he was found guilty for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. Six additional counts - Thanks to the conclusion of the Appeals Chamber that the war in Bosnia was an "international armed conflict" - charges him of 'grave breaches' of the Geneva Conventions.

Keeping in mind that it was decided in the original judgement that the sentences pronounced for each individual crime - from seven to 20 years -should run concurrently, not consecutively, the six 'grave breaches' should not prolong Tadic's sentence.

But the situation is different in the other three counts, Counts 29, 30 And 31, dealing with the murder of five men in Jaksici. Here the Appeals Chamber overturned the Trial Chamber's original not guilty verdict.

Those counts, Prosecutor Michael Keegan told the judges, "involved underlying conduct for which the Appellant (Tadic) was not convicted previously. For these crimes, the Prosecution respectfully submits that Tadic should be sentenced to a minimum of fifteen years additional punishment for each Count.

"This recommendation is based upon the extreme gravity of these crimes and the part they represent in the larger course of egregious criminal misconduct committed by Tadic against Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats. "The principles of retribution and deterrence as applicable in this case mandate the imposition of severe punishment for those crimes."

However, Keegan left it up to the judges to determine "whether the additional sentence of fifteen years should be served concurrently with each other, or they should be served consecutively".

Tadic's defence counsel William Clegg said here, as well, "concurrent sentences, in the light of common factual basis, would be the correct approach".

Citing Tadic's unimportant position in the Bosnian Serb political and military hierarchy, Clegg called on to the judges to "develop a principled tariff of sentencing which reflects, especially in the total period of imprisonment imposed such factors as (a) the place or level of the Defendant in the scheme of events for which he falls to be sentenced and (b) the Defendant's actual involvement in the crimes committed".

Finally, at the end of the sentencing hearing Dusko Tadic spoke out to express regret at the entire matter for the first time, at least as recalled by Tribunal Update.

He said that he and his family were "the victims of a combination of circumstances," and that he "did not choose to live in that area (the village of Kozarac near Prijedor). He said he was "the victim of the political and police authorities of Republika Srpska," and that he used the first possible moment to put his family away and to flee the area... "I could," he claims, "choose only between being killed or fleeing".

He said he wanted to "distance himself from everything" and "sincerely" feels sorry about the victims in the area of Prijedor, and their families. "My extended family, my brothers live in Kozarac even today with the same Muslim neighbours, and I am telling you that I am doing everything for these relations to become much better than ever."

"I sincerely regret everything that has happened. I ask you to keep this in mind... Simply, I regret everything." The sentencing judgement for the additional counts will be handed down on 11 November 1999 at 10 a.m.

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