introduction Celebici is a town in Central Bosnia, strategically located roughly halfway from Sarajevo to Mostar. In 1993, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina Serb elements lost military control to the combined forces of Muslims and Croats. A concentration camp was established in a factory complex where Serb prisoners were subjected to a range of abuses and atrocities. Several of those involved in the administration and supervision of the camp were tried in one of the first prosecutions before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The November 1998 convictions of several of the accused were upheld by the Appeals Chamber in 2001.
International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991
Case No.: IT-96-21-A
Date: 20 February 2001
IN THE APPEALS CHAMBER
Before: Judge David Hunt, Presiding ; Judge Fouad Riad; Judge Rafael Nieto-Navia; Judge Mohamed Bennouna; Judge Fausto Pocar
Registrar: Mr. Hans Holthuis
Judgement of: 20 February 2001
PROSECUTOR V Zejnil DELALIC, Zdravko MUCIC (aka 'PAVO'), Hazim DELIC and Esad LANDZO (aka 'ZENGA') ('CELEBICI Case')
Counsel for the Accused:
Mr. John Ackerman and Ms Edina Residovic for Zejnil Delalic Mr. Tomislav Kuzmanovic and Mr. Howard Morrison for Zdravko Mucic Mr. Salih Karabdic and Mr. Tom Moran for Hazim Delic Ms Cynthia Sinatra and Mr. Peter Murphy for Esad Landzo
The Office of the Prosecutor:
Mr. Upawansa Yapa Mr. William Fenrick Mr. Christopher Staker Mr. Norman Farrell Ms Sonja Boelaert-Suominen Mr Roeland Bos
Case No.: IT-96-21-A 20 February 2001
The Appeals Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 ('International Tribunal") is seized of appeals against the Judgement rendered by Trial Chamber II on 16 November 1998 in the case of Prosecutor v Zejnil Delalic, Zdravko Mucic also known as 'Pavo", Hazim Delic, Esad Land'o also known as 'Zenga" ('Trial Judgement").
Having considered the written and oral submissions of the Parties, the Appeals Chamber
HEREBY RENDERS ITS JUDGEMENT.
1. The Indictment against Zejnil Delalic, Zdravko Mucic, Hazim Delic and Esad Land'o, confirmed on 21 March 1996, alleged serious violations of humanitarian law that occurred in 1992 when Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat forces took control of villages within the Konjic municipality in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. The present appeal concerns events within the Konjic municipality, where persons were detained in a former Yugoslav People's Army ('JNA") facility: the Celebici camp. The Trial Chamber found that detainees were killed, tortured, sexually assaulted, beaten and otherwise subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment by Mucic, Delic and Land'o. Mucic was found to have been the commander of the Celebici camp, Delic the deputy commander and Land'o a prison guard.
2. In various forms, Delalic was co-ordinator of Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat forces in the Konjic area between approximately April and September 1992. He was found not guilty of twelve counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and violations of the laws or customs of war. The Trial Chamber concluded that Delalic did not have sufficient command and control over the Celebici camp or the guards that worked there to entail his criminal responsibility for their actions.
3. Mucic was found guilty of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and of violations of the laws or customs of war for crimes including murder, torture, inhuman treatment and unlawful confinement, principally on the basis of his superior responsibility as commander of the Celebici camp, but also, in respect of certain counts, for his direct participation in the crimes. Mucic was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Delic was found guilty of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the laws or customs of war for his direct participation in crimes including murder, torture, and inhuman treatment. Delic was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. Landzo was found guilty of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the laws or customs of war, for crimes including murder, torture, and cruel treatment, and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment.
4. The procedural background of the appeal proceedings is found in Annex A, which also contains a complete list of the grounds of appeal. Certain of the grounds of appeal of the individual parties dealt with substantially the same subject matter, and certain grounds of appeal of Land'o were joined by Mucic and Delic. For that reason, this judgement considers the various grounds of appeal grouped by subject matter, which was also the way the different grounds of appeal were dealt with during oral argument.
Trial Judgement, pp 447-449.
II. GROUNDS OF APPEAL RELATING TO ARTICLE 2 OF THE STATUTE
5. Delic, Mucic and Landzo have raised two closely related issues in relation to the findings of the Trial Chamber based on Article 2 of the Statute. The first is the question of the legal test for determining the nature of the conflict, and the second, that of the criteria for establishing whether a person is 'protected" under Geneva Convention IV. Delic has raised a third issue as to whether Bosnia and Herzegovina was a party to the Geneva Conventions at the time of the events alleged in the Indictment.
A. Whether the Trial Chamber Erred in Holding that the Armed Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Time Relevant to the Indictment was of an International Character
6. Delic, Mucic, and Land'o challenge the Trial Chamber's finding that the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina was international at all times relevant to the Indictment. Relying upon the reasoning of the majority in the Tadic and Aleksovski first instance Judgements, the appellants argue that the armed conflict was internal at all times. It is submitted that the Trial Chamber used an incorrect legal test to determine the nature of the conflict and that the test set out by the majority of the Tadic Trial Chamber, the 'effective control" test, based on Nicaragua, is the appropriate test. In the appellants' opinion, applying this correct test, the facts as found by the Trial Chamber do not support a finding that the armed conflict was international. Consequently, the appellants seek a reversal of the verdict of guilty on the counts of the Indictment based upon Article 2 of the Statute.
7. The Prosecution submits that these grounds of appeal should be dismissed. It submits that the correct legal test for determining whether an armed conflict is international was set forth by the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Appeal Judgement, which rejected the 'effective control" test in relation to acts of armed forces or paramilitary units. Relying upon the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, the Prosecution contends that the Appeals Chamber should follow its previous decision.
8. As noted by the Prosecution, the issue of the correct legal test for determining whether an armed conflict is international was addressed by the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Appeal Judgement. In the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, the Appeals Chamber found that 'in the interests of certainty and predictability, the Appeals Chamber should follow its previous decisions, but should be free to depart from them for cogent reasons in the interests of justice". Elaborating on this principle, the Chamber held:
Instances of situations where cogent reasons in the interests of justice require a departure from a previous decision include cases where the previous decision has been decided on the basis of a wrong legal principle or cases where a previous decision has been given per incuriam, that is a judicial decision that has been 'wrongly decided, usually because the judge or judges were ill-informed about the applicable law."
It is necessary to stress that the normal rule is that previous decisions are to be followed, and departure from them is the exception. The Appeals Chamber will only depart from a previous decision after the most careful consideration has been given to it, both as to the law, including the authorities cited, and the facts.
What is followed in previous decisions is the legal principle (ratio decidendi), and the obligation to follow that principle only applies in similar cases, or substantially similar cases. This means less that the facts are similar or substantially similar, than that the question raised by the facts in the subsequent case is the same as the question decided by the legal principle in the previous decision. There is no obligation to follow previous decisions which may be distinguished for one reason or another from the case before the court.
In light of this finding, the Aleksovski Appeals Chamber followed the legal test set out in the Tadic Appeal Judgement in relation to internationality.
9. Against this background, the Appeals Chamber will turn to the question of the applicable law for determining whether an armed conflict is international.
1. What is the Applicable Law? 10. The Appeals Chamber now turns to a consideration of the Tadic Appeal Judgement, and to the relevant submissions of the parties in this regard, in order to determine whether, applying the principle set forth in the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, there are any cogent reasons in the interests of justice for departing from it.
11. From the outset, the Appeals Chamber notes that the findings of the Trial Chamber majorities in the Tadic and Aleksovski Judgements, upon which the appellants rely, were overturned on appeal.
12. In the Tadic case, the Appeals Chamber was concerned with, inter alia, the legal criteria for establishing when, in an armed conflict which is prima facie internal, armed forces may be regarded as acting on behalf of a foreign power, thereby rendering the conflict international.
13. The Appeals Chamber saw the question of internationality as turning on the issue of whether the Bosnian Serb forces 'could be considered as de iure or de facto organs of a foreign power, namely the FRY". The important question was 'what degree of authority or control must be wielded by a foreign State over armed forces fighting on its behalf in order to render international an armed conflict which is prima facie internal". The Chamber considered, after a review of various cases including Nicaragua, that international law does not always require the same degree of control over armed groups or private individuals for the purpose of determining whether they can be regarded as a de facto organ of the State. The Appeals Chamber found that there were three different standards of control under which an entity could be considered de facto organ of the State, each differing according to the nature of the entity. Using this framework, the Appeals Chamber determined that the situation with which it was concerned fell into the second category it identified, which was that of the acts of armed forces or militias or paramilitary units.
14. The Appeals Chamber determined that the legal test which applies to this category was the 'overall control" test:
In order to attribute the acts of a military or paramilitary group to a State, it must be proved that the State wields overall control over the group, not only by equipping and financing the group, but also by co-ordinating or helping in the general planning of its military activity. [...] However, it is not necessary that, in addition, the State should also issue, either to the head or to members of the group, instructions for the commission of specific acts contrary to international law.
15. Overall control was defined as consisting of more than 'the mere provision of financial assistance or military equipment or training". Further, the Appeals Chamber adopted a flexible definition of this test, which allows it to take into consideration the diversity of situations on the field in present-day conflicts:
This requirement, however, does not go so far as to include the issuing of specific orders by the State, or its direction of each individual operation. Under international law it is by no means necessary that the controlling authorities should plan all the operations of the units dependent on them, choose their targets, or give specific instructions concerning the conduct of military operations and any alleged violations of international humanitarian law. The control required by international law may be deemed to exist when a State (or in the context of an armed conflict, the Party to the conflict) has a role in organising, coordinating or planning the military actions of the military group, in addition to financing, training and equipping or providing operational support to that group. Acts performed by the group or members thereof may be regarded as acts of de facto State organs regardless of any specific instruction by the controlling State concerning the commission of each of those acts.
16. The Appeals Chamber in Tadic considered Nicaragua in depth, and based on two grounds, held that the 'effective control" test enunciated by the ICJ was not persuasive.
17. Firstly, the Appeals Chamber found that the Nicaragua 'effective control" test did not seem to be consonant with the 'very logic of the entire system of international law on State responsibility", which is 'not based on rigid and uniform criteria". In the Appeals Chamber's view, 'the whole body of international law on State responsibility is based on a realistic concept of accountability, which disregards legal formalities". Thus, regardless of whether or not specific instructions were issued, the international responsibility of the State may be engaged.
18. Secondly, the Appeals Chamber considered that the Nicaragua test is at variance with judicial and State practice. Relying on a number of cases from claims tribunals, national and international courts, and State practice, the Chamber found that, although the 'effective control" test was upheld by the practice in relation to individuals or unorganised groups of individuals acting on behalf of States, it was not the case in respect of military or paramilitary groups.
19. The Appeals Chamber found that the armed forces of the Republika Srpska were to be regarded as acting under the overall control of, and on behalf of, the FRY, sharing the same objectives and strategy, thereby rendering the armed conflict international.
20. The Appeals Chamber, after considering in depth the merits of the Nicaragua test, thus rejected the 'effective control" test, in favour of the less strict 'overall control" test. This may be indicative of a trend simply to rely on the international law on the use of force, jus ad bellum, when characterising the conflict. The situation in which a State, the FRY, resorted to the indirect use of force against another State, Bosnia and Herzegovina, by supporting one of the parties involved in the conflict, the Bosnian Serb forces, may indeed be also characterised as a proxy war of an international character. In this context, the 'overall control" test is utilised to ascertain the foreign intervention, and consequently, to conclude that a conflict which was prima facie internal is internationalised.
21. The appellants argue that the findings of the Tadic Appeal Judgement which rejected the 'correct legal test" set out in Nicaragua are erroneous as the Tribunal is bound by the ICJ's precedent. It is submitted that when the ICJ has determined an issue, the Tribunal should follow it, (1) because of the ICJ's position within the United Nations Charter, and (2) because of the value of precedent. Further, even if the ICJ's decisions are not binding on the Tribunal, the appellants submits that it is 'undesirable to have two courts (...) having conflicting decisions on the same issue".
22. The Prosecution rebuts this argument with the following submissions: (1) The two courts have different jurisdictions, and in addition, the ICJ Statute does not provide for precedent. It would thus be odd that the decisions of the ICJ which are not strictly binding on itself would be binding on the Tribunal which has a different jurisdiction.31 (2) The Appeals Chamber in the Tadic appeal made specific reference to Nicaragua and held it not to be persuasive. (3) Judge Shahabuddeen in a dissenting opinion in an ICTR decision found that the differences between the Tribunal and the ICJ do not prohibit recourse to the relevant jurisprudence on relevant matters, and that the Tribunal can draw some persuasive value from the ICJ's decisions, without being bound by them.
23. The Appeals Chamber is not persuaded by the appellants' argument. The Appeals Chamber in Tadic, addressing the argument that it should not follow the Nicaragua test in relation to the issue at hand as the two courts have different jurisdiction, held:
What is at issue is not the distinction between two classes of responsibility. What is at issue is a preliminary question: that of the conditions on which under international law an individual may be held to act as a de facto organ of a State.
24. The Appeals Chamber agrees that 'so far as international law is concerned, the operation of the desiderata of consistency, stability, and predictability does not stop at the frontiers of the Tribunal. [...] The Appeals Chamber cannot behave as if the general state of the law in the international community whose interests it serves is none of its concern". However, this Tribunal is an autonomous international judicial body, and although the ICJ is the 'principal judicial organ" within the United Nations system to which the Tribunal belongs, there is no hierarchical relationship between the two courts. Although the Appeals Chamber will necessarily take into consideration other decisions of international courts, it may, after careful consideration, come to a different conclusion.
25. An additional argument submitted by Land'o is that the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision accurately decided that the conflict was internal. The Appeals Chamber notes that this argument was previously raised by the appellants at trial. The Trial Chamber then concluded that it is 'incorrect to contend that the Appeals Chamber has already settled the matter of the nature of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision the Chamber found that 'the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia have both internal and international aspects' and deliberately left the question of the nature of particular conflicts open for the Trial Chamber to determine". The Appeals Chamber fully agrees with this conclusion.
26. Applying the principle enunciated in the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, this Appeals Chamber is unable to conclude that the decision in the Tadic was arrived at on the basis of the application of a wrong legal principle, or arrived at per incuriam. After careful consideration of the arguments put forward by the appellants, this Appeals Chamber is unable to find cogent reasons in the interests of justice to depart from the law as identified in the Tadic Appeal Judgement. The 'overall control" test set forth in the Tadic Appeal Judgement is thus the applicable criteria for determining the existence of an international armed conflict.
27. The Appeals Chamber will now examine the Trial Judgement in order to ascertain what test was applied.
2. Has the Trial Chamber Applied the 'Overall Control" Test? 28. The Appeals Chamber first notes that the Tadic Appeal Judgement which set forth the 'overall control" test had not been issued at the time of the delivery of the Trial Judgement. The Appeals Chamber will thus consider whether the Trial Chamber, although not, from a formal viewpoint, having applied the 'overall control" test as enunciated by the Appeals Chamber in Tadic, based its conclusions on a legal reasoning consistent with it.
29. The issue before the Trial Chamber was whether the armed forces of the Bosnian Serbs could be regarded as acting on behalf of the FRY, in order to determine whether after its withdrawal in May 1992 the conflict continued to be international or instead became internal. More specifically, along the lines of Tadic, the relevant issue is whether the Trial Chamber came to the conclusion that the Bosnian Serb armed forces could be regarded as having been under the overall control of the FRY, going beyond the mere financing and equipping of such forces, and involving also participation in the planning and supervision of military operations after 19 May 1992.
30. The Prosecution submits that the test applied by the Trial Chamber is consistent with the 'overall control" test. In the Prosecution's submission, the Trial Chamber adopted the "same approach" as subsequently articulated by the Appeals Chamber in Tadic and Aleksovski. Further, the Trial Judgement goes through the "exact same facts, almost as we found in the Tadic decision". The Prosecution contends that the Appeals Chamber has already considered the same issues and facts in the Tadic appeal, and found that the same conflict was international after May 1992. In the Prosecution's opinion, the Trial Chamber's conclusion that "the government of the FRY was the [...] controlling force behind the VRS" is consistent with Tadic.
3. The Nature of the Conflict Prior to 19 May 1992 31. The Trial Chamber first addressed the question of whether there was an international armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in May 1992 and whether it continued throughout the rest of that year, i.e., at the time relevant to the charges alleged in the Indictment.
32. The Trial Chamber found that a "significant numbers of [JNA] troops were on the ground when the [BH] government declared the State's independence on 6 March 1992". Further, "there is substantial evidence that the JNA was openly involved in combat activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the beginning of March and into April and May of 1992." The Trial Chamber therefore concluded that:
[...] an international armed conflict existed in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the date of its recognition as an independent State on 6 April 1992. There is no evidence to indicate that the hostilities which occurred in the Konjic municipality at that time were part of a separate armed conflict and, indeed, there is some evidence of the involvement of the JNA in the fighting there.
33. The Trial Chamber's finding as to the nature of the conflict prior to 19 May 1992 is based on a finding of a direct participation of one State on the territory of another State. This constitutes a plain application of the holding of the Appeals Chamber in Tadic that it "is indisputable that an armed conflict is international if it takes place between two or more States", which reflects the traditional position of international law. The Appeals Chamber is in no doubt that there is sufficient evidence to justify the Trial Chamber's finding of fact that the conflict was international prior to 19 May 1992.
4. The Nature of the Conflict After 19 May 1992 34. The Trial Chamber then turned to the issue of the character of the conflict after the alleged withdrawal of the external forces it found to be involved prior to 19 May 1992. Based upon, amongst other matters, an analysis of expert testimony and of Security Council resolutions, it found that after 19 May 1992, the aims and objectives of the conflict remained the same as during the conflict involving the FRY and the JNA prior to that date, i.e., to expand the territory which would form part of the Republic. The Trial Chamber found that "[t]he FRY, at the very least, despite the purported withdrawal of its forces, maintained its support of the Bosnian Serbs and their army and exerted substantial influence over their operations".
35. The Trial Chamber concluded that "[d]espite the formal change in status, the command structure of the new Bosnian Serb army was left largely unaltered from that of the JNA, from which the Bosnian Serbs received their arms and equipment as well as through local SDS organisations".
36. In discussing the nature of the conflict, the Trial Chamber did not rely on Nicaragua, noting that, although "this decision of the ICJ constitutes an important source of jurisprudence on various issues of international law", the ICJ is "a very different judicial body concerned with rather different circumstances from the case in hand".
37. The Trial Chamber described its understanding of the factual situation upon which it was required to make a determination as being
[...] characterised by the breakdown of previous State boundaries and the creation of new ones. Consequently, the question which arises is one of continuity of control of particular forces. The date which is consistently raised as the turning point in this matter is that of 19 May 1992, when the JNA apparently withdrew from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
38. It continued:
The Trial Chamber must keep in mind that the forces constituting the VRS had a prior identity as an actual organ of the SFRY, as the JNA. When the FRY took control of this organ and subsequently severed the formal link between them, by creating the VJ and VRS, the presumption remains that these forces retained their link with it, unless otherwise demonstrated.
39. Along the lines of Judge McDonald's Dissenting Opinion in the Tadic case (which it cited), the Trial Chamber found that:
[...] the withdrawal of JNA troops who were not of Bosnian citizenship, and the creation of the VRS and VJ, constituted a deliberate attempt to mask the continued involvement of the FRY in the conflict while its Government remained in fact the controlling force behind the Bosnian Serbs. From the level of strategy to that of personnel and logistics the operations of the JNA persisted in all but name. It would be wholly artificial to sever the period before 19 May 1992 from the period thereafter in considering the nature of the conflict and applying international humanitarian law.
40. The appellants submit that the Trial Chamber did not rely on any legal test to classify the conflict, i.e., it failed to pronounce its own test to determine whether an intervening State has sufficient control over insurgents to render an internal conflict international. On the other hand, the Prosecution submits that the Trial Chamber classified the conflict on the basis of whether the Prosecution had proved that the FRY/VJ was the "controlling force behind the Bosnian Serbs".
41. The Appeals Chamber disagrees with the appellants' submission that the Trial Chamber did not rely on any legal test to determine the issue. The Trial Chamber appears to have relied on a "continuity of control" test in considering the evidence before it, in order to determine whether the nature of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was international until a point in May 1992, had subsequently changed. The Trial Chamber thus relied on a "control" test, evidently less strict than the "effective control" test. The Trial Chamber did not focus on the issuance of specific instructions, which underlies the "effective control" test. In assessing the evidence, however, the Trial Chamber clearly had regard to all the elements pointing to the influence and control retained over the VRS by the VJ, as required by the "overall control" test.
42. The method employed by the Trial Chamber was later considered as the correct approach in Aleksovski. The Aleksovski Appeals Chamber indeed interpreted the "overall control" test as follows:
The "overall control" test calls for an assessment of all the elements of control taken as a whole, and a determination to be made on that basis as to whether there was the required degree of control. Bearing in mind that the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Judgement arrived at this test against the background of the "effective control" test set out by the decision of the ICJ in Nicaragua, and the "specific instructions" test used by the Trial Chamber in Tadic, the Appeals Chamber considers it appropriate to say that the standard established by the "overall control" test is not as rigorous as those tests.
43. The Appeals Chamber finds that the Trial Chamber's assessment of the effect in reality of the formal withdrawal of the FRY army after 19 May 1992 was based on a careful examination of the evidence before it. That the Trial Chamber indeed relied on this approach is evidenced by the use of phrases such as "despite the attempt at camouflage by the authorities of the FRY", or "despite the formal change in status" in the discussion of the evidence before it.
44. An additional argument submitted by Land'o in support of his contention that the Trial Chamber decided the issue wrongly is based on the agreement concluded under the auspices of the ICRC on 22 May 1992. In Land'o's opinion, this agreement, which was based on common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, shows that the conflict was considered by the parties to it to be internal. The Appeals Chamber fully concurs with the Trial Chamber's finding that the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision's reference to the agreement "merely demonstrates that some of the norms applicable to international armed conflicts were specifically brought into force by the parties to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, some of whom may have wished it to be considered internal, and does not show that the conflict must therefore have been internal in nature".
45. The appellants further argue that the Trial Chamber relied on a "presumption" that the FRY/VJ still exerted control over the VRS after 19 May 1992 to determine the nature of the conflict. The Trial Chamber thus used an "incorrect legal test" when it concluded that because of the former existing links between the FRY and the VRS, the FRY/VJ retained control over the VRS. The Prosecution responds that it is unfounded to suggest that the Trial Chamber shifted to the Defence the burden of proving that the conflict did not remain international after the withdrawal of the JNA.
46. The Appeals Chamber is of the view that although the use of the term "presumption" by the Trial Chamber may not be appropriate, the approach it followed, i.e., assessing all of the relevant evidence before it, including that of the previous circumstances, is correct. This approach is clearly in keeping with the Appeals Chamber's holding in Tadic that in determining the issue of the nature of the conflict, structures put in place by the parties should not be taken at face value. There it held:
Undue emphasis upon the ostensible structures and overt declarations of the belligerents, as opposed to a nuanced analysis of the reality of their relationship, may tacitly suggest to groups who are in de facto control of military forces that responsibility for the acts of such forces can be evaded merely by resort to a superficial restructuring of such forces or by a facile declaration that the reconstituted forces are henceforth independent of their erstwhile sponsors.
47. The Trial Chamber's finding is also consistent with the holding of the Appeals Chamber in Tadic that "[w]here the controlling State in question is an adjacent State with territorial ambitions on the State where the conflict is taking place, and the controlling State is attempting to achieve its territorial enlargement through the armed forces which it controls, it may be easier to establish the threshold". The "overall control" test could thus be fulfilled even if the armed forces acting on behalf of the "controlling State" had autonomous choices of means and tactics although participating in a common strategy along with the "controlling State".
48. Although the Trial Chamber did not formally apply the "overall control" test set forth by the Tadic Appeal Judgement, the Appeals Chamber is of the view that the Trial Chamber's legal reasoning is entirely consistent with the previous jurisprudence of the Tribunal. The Appeals Chamber will now turn to an additional argument of the parties concerning the Trial Chamber's factual findings.
49. Despite submissions in their briefs that suggested that the appellants wished the Appeals Chamber to review the factual findings of the Trial Chamber in addition to reviewing its legal conclusion, the appellants submitted at the hearing that they "just ask the Court to apply the proper legal test to the facts that were found by the Trial Chamber". The Appeals Chamber will thus not embark on a general assessment of the Trial Chamber's factual findings.
50. The Trial Chamber came to the conclusion, as in the Tadic case, that the armed conflict taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina after 19 May 1992 could be regarded as international because the FRY remained the controlling force behind the Bosnian Serbs armed forces after 19 May 1992. It is argued by the parties that the facts relied upon in the present case are very similar to those found in the Tadic case. As observed previously, however, a general review of the evidence before the Trial Chamber does not fall within the scope of this appeal. It suffices to say that this Appeals Chamber is satisfied that the facts as found by the Trial Chamber fulfil the legal conditions as set forth in the Tadic case.
51. The Appeals Chamber therefore finds that Delic's Ground 8, Mucic's Ground 5, and Land'o's Ground 5 must fail.
B. Whether the Bosnian Serbs Detained in the Celebici Camp were Protected Persons Under Geneva Convention IV
52. Delalic, Mucic, Delic and Land'o submit that the Trial Chamber erred in law in finding that the Bosnian Serbs detainees at the Celebici camp could be considered not to be nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the purposes of the category of persons protected under Geneva Convention IV. They contend that the Trial Chamber's conclusions are inconsistent with international law and Bosnian law. The appellants request that the Appeals Chamber enter judgements of acquittal on all counts based on Article 2 of the Statute.
53. The Prosecution submits that the appellants' grounds of appeal have no merit and that the Appeals Chamber should follow its previous jurisprudence on the issue, as set out in the Tadic Appeal Judgement, and confirmed by the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement. It submits that it is now settled in that jurisprudence that in an international conflict victims may be considered as not being nationals of the party in whose hands they find themselves, even if, as a matter of national law, they were nationals of the same State as the persons by whom they are detained. Further, the Prosecution submits that the test applied by the Trial Chamber is consistent with the Tadic Appeal Judgement.
54. As noted by the Prosecution, the Appeals Chamber in Tadic has previously addressed the issue of the criteria for establishing whether a person is "protected" under Geneva Convention IV. In accordance with the principle set out in the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, as enunciated in paragraph 8 of this Judgement, the Appeals Chamber will follow the law in relation to protected persons as identified in the Tadic Appeal Judgement, unless cogent reasons in the interests of justice exist to depart from it.
55. After considering whether cogent reasons exist to depart from the Tadic Appeal Judgement, the Appeals Chamber will turn to an analysis of the Trial Chamber's findings so as to determine whether it applied the correct legal principles to determine the nationality of the victims for the purpose of the application of the grave breaches provisions.
1. What is the Applicable Law?
56. Article 2 of the Statute of the Tribunal provides that it has the power to prosecute persons who committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions "against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Conventions". The applicable provision to ascertain whether Bosnian Serbs detained in the Celebici camp can be regarded as victims of grave breaches is Article 4(1) of Geneva Convention IV on the protection of civilians, which defines "protected persons" as "those in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals." The Appeals Chamber in Tadic found that:
[...] the Convention intends to protect civilians (in enemy territory, occupied territory or the combat zone) who do not have the nationality of the belligerent in whose hands they find themselves, or who are stateless persons. In addition, as is apparent from the preparatory work, the Convention also intends to protect those civilians in occupied territory who, while having the nationality of the Party to the conflict in whose hands they find themselves, are refugees and thus no longer owe allegiance to this Party and no longer enjoy its diplomatic protection....
57. The Appeals Chamber held that "already in 1949 the legal bond of nationality was not regarded as crucial and allowance was made for special cases". Further, relying on a teleological approach, it continued:
58. The Appeals Chamber in Aleksovski endorsed the Tadic reasoning holding that "Article 4 may be given a wider construction so that a person may be accorded protected status, notwithstanding the fact that he is of the same nationality as his captors."
59. The appellants submit that the Appeals Chamber decisions in Tadic and Aleksovski wrongly interpreted Article 4 of Geneva Convention IV, and that the Tadic and Aleksovski Trial Chamber Judgements are correct. It is essentially submitted that in order for victims to gain "protected persons" status, Geneva Convention IV requires that the person in question be of a different nationality than the perpetrators of the alleged offence, based on the national law on citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This interpretation is based on a "strict" interpretation of the Convention which is, in the appellants' view, mandated by the "traditional rules of treaty interpretation".
60. The Prosecution contends that the Appeals Chamber in Aleksovski already adopted the approach used in the Tadic Appeal Judgement, and that the appellants in this case have not demonstrated any "cogent reasons in the interests of justice" that could justify a departure by the Appeals Chamber from its previous decisions on the issue.
61. Before turning to these arguments, the Appeals Chamber will consider an additional argument submitted by the appellants which goes to the status of the Tadic Appeal Judgement statement of the law and may be conveniently addressed as a preliminary matter.
62. The appellants submit that the Tadic statements on the meaning of protected persons are dicta, as in their view the Appeals Chamber in Tadic and Aleksovski cases derived the protected persons status of the victims from the finding that the perpetrators were acting on behalf of the FRY or Croatia. The Prosecution on the other hand submits that the Appeals Chamber's statement in Tadic was part of the ratio decidendi.
63. While the Appeals Chamber in Tadic appears to have reached a conclusion as to the status of the victims as protected persons based on the previous finding that the Bosnian Serbs acted as de facto organs of another State, the FRY, it set forth a clear statement of the law as to the applicable criteria to determine the nationality of the victims for the purposes of the Geneva Conventions. The Appeals Chamber is satisfied that this statement of the applicable law, which was endorsed by the Appeals Chamber in Aleksovski, falls within the scope of the Aleksovski statement in relation to the practice of following previous decisions of the Appeals Chamber.
64. The Appeals Chamber now turns to the main arguments relied upon by the appellants, namely that the Appeals Chamber's interpretation of the nationality requirement is wrong as it is (1) contrary to the "traditional rules of treaty interpretation"; and (2) inconsistent with the national laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina on citizenship.
65. The appellants submit that "the traditional rules of treaty interpretation" should be applied to interpret strictly the nationality requirement set out in Article 4 of Geneva Convention IV. The word "national" should therefore be interpreted according to its natural and ordinary meaning. The appellants submit in addition that if the Geneva Conventions are now obsolete and need to be updated to take into consideration a "new reality", a diplomatic conference should be convened to revise them.
66. The Prosecution on the other hand contends that the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 provides that the ordinary meaning is the meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of their object and purpose. It is submitted that the Appeals Chamber in Tadic found that the legal bond of nationality was not regarded as crucial in 1949, i.e., that there was no intention at the time to determine that nationality was the sole criteria. In addition, adopting the appellants' position would result in the removal of protections from the Geneva Conventions contrary to their very object and purpose.
67. The argument of the appellants relates to the interpretative approach to be applied to the concept of nationality in Geneva Convention IV. The appellants and the Prosecution both rely on the Vienna Convention in support of their contentions. The Appeals Chamber agrees with the parties that it is appropriate to refer to the Vienna Convention as the applicable rules of interpretation, and to Article 31 in particular, which sets forth the general rule for the interpretation of treaties. The Appeals Chamber notes that it is generally accepted that these provisions reflect customary rules. The relevant part of Article 31 reads as follows:
A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose.
68. The Vienna Convention in effect adopted a textual, contextual and a teleological approach of interpretation, allowing for an interpretation of the natural and ordinary meaning of the terms of a treaty in their context, while having regard to the object and purpose of the treaty.
69. In addition, Article 32 of the Vienna Convention, entitled "Supplementary means of interpretation", provides that:
Recourse may be had to supplementary means of interpretation, including the preparatory work of the treaty and the circumstances of its conclusion, in order to confirm the meaning resulting from the application of article 31, or to determine the meaning when the interpretation according to article 31:
- (a) leaves the meaning ambiguous and obscure; or
- (b) leads to a result which is manifestly absurd or unreasonable.
70. Where the interpretative rule set out in Article 31 does not provide a satisfactory conclusion recourse may be had to the travaux preparatoires as a subsidiary means of interpretation.
71. In finding that ethnicity may be taken into consideration when determining the nationality of the victims for the purposes of the application of Geneva Convention IV, the Appeals Chamber in Tadic concluded:
Under these conditions, the requirement of nationality is even less adequate to define protected persons. In such conflicts, not only the text and the drafting history of the Convention but also, and more importantly, the Convention's object and purpose suggest that allegiance to a Party to the conflict and, correspondingly, control by this Party over persons ina given territory, may be regarded as the crucial test.
72. This reasoning was endorsed by the Appeals Chamber in Aleksovski:
73. The Appeals Chamber finds that this interpretative approach is consistent with the rules of treaty interpretation set out in the Vienna Convention. Further, the Appeals Chamber in Tadic only relied on the travaux preparatoires to reinforce its conclusion reached upon an examination of the overall context of the Geneva Conventions. The Appeals Chamber is thus unconvinced by the appellants' argument and finds that the interpretation of the nationality requirement of Article 4 in the Tadic Appeals Judgement does not constitute a rewriting of Geneva Convention IV or a "recreation" of the law. The nationality requirement in Article 4 of Geneva Convention IV should therefore be ascertained within the context of the object and purpose of humanitarian law, which "is directed to the protection of civilians to the maximum extent possible". This in turn must be done within the context of the changing nature of the armed conflicts since 1945, and in particular of the development of conflicts based on ethnic or religious grounds.
74. The other set of arguments submitted by the appellants relates to the national laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina on citizenship, and the applicable criteria to ascertain nationality. The appellants contend that the term "national" in Geneva Convention IV refers to nationality as defined by domestic law. It is argued that according to the applicable law of Bosnia and Herzegovina on citizenship at the time relevant to the Indictment, the Bosnian Serbs were of Bosnian nationality. In the appellants' submission, all former citizens of the former Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (including those of Serbian ethnic origin), one of the constituent republics of the SFRY, became Bosnian nationals when the SFRY was dissolved and Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognised as an independent State in April 1992. Further, FRY citizenship was limited to residents in its constituent parts, and the law of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not provide a possibility for its citizens of Serb ethnic background to opt for FRY citizenship. Delalic submits that in addition, the Bosnian Serbs subsequently agreed to the Dayton Agreement, which provides that they are nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
75. The appellants' arguments go to the issue of whether domestic laws are relevant to determining the nationality of the victims for the purpose of applying the Geneva Conventions. As observed above, however, the nationality requirement of Article 4 of Geneva Convention IV is to be interpreted within the framework of humanitarian law.
76. It is a settled principle of international law that the effect of domestic laws on the international plane is determined by international law. As noted by the Permanent Court of International Justice in the Case of Certain German Interests in Polish Upper Silesia, "[f]rom the standpoint of International Law and of the Court which is its organ, municipal laws are merely facts which express the will and constitute the activities of States, in the same manner as do legal decisions or administrative measures". In relation to the admissibility of a claim within the context of the exercise of diplomatic protection based on the nationality granted by a State, the ICJ held in Nottebohm:
But the issue which the Court must decide is not one which pertains to the legal system of Liechtenstein. It does not depend on the law or on the decision of Liechtenstein whether that State is entitled to exercise its protection, in the case under consideration. To exercise protection, to apply to the Court, is to place oneself on the plane of international law. It is international law which determines whether a State is entitled to exercise protection and to seize the Court.
77. The ICJ went on to state that "[i]nternational practice provides many examples of acts performed by States in the exercise of their domestic jurisdiction which do not necessarily or automatically have international effect". To paraphrase the ICJ in Nottebohm, the question at issue must thus be decided on the basis of international law; to do so is consistent with the nature of the question and with the nature of the Tribunal's own functions. Consequently, the nationality granted by a State on the basis of its domestic laws is not automatically binding on an international tribunal which is itself entrusted with the task of ascertaining the nationality of the victims for the purposes of the application of international humanitarian law. Article 4 of Geneva Convention IV, when referring to the absence of national link between the victims and the persons in whose hands they find themselves, may therefore be considered as referring to a nationality link defined for the purposes of international humanitarian law, and not as referring to the domestic legislation as such. It thus falls squarely within the competence of this Appeals Chamber to ascertain the effect of the domestic laws of the former Yugoslavia within the international context in which this Tribunal operates.
78. Relying on the ICRC Commentary to Article 4 of Geneva Convention IV, the appellants further argue that international law cannot interfere in a State's relations with its own nationals, except in cases of genocide and crimes against humanity. In the appellants' view, in the situation of an internationalised armed conflict where the victims and the perpetrators are of the same nationality, the victims are only protected by their national laws.
79. The purpose of Geneva Convention IV in providing for universal jurisdiction only in relation to the grave breaches provisions was to avoid interference by domestic courts of other States in situations which concern only the relationship between a State and its own nationals. The ICRC Commentary (GC IV), referred to by the appellants, thus stated that Geneva Convention IV is "faithful to a recognised principle of international law: it does not interfere in a State's relations with its own nationals". The Commentary did not envisage the situation of an internationalised conflict where a foreign State supports one of the parties to the conflict, and where the victims are detained because of their ethnicity, and because they are regarded by their captors as operating on behalf of the enemy. In these circumstances, the formal national link with Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be raised before an international tribunal to deny the victims the protection of humanitarian law. It may be added that the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself did not oppose the prosecution of Bosnian nationals for acts of violence against other Bosnians based upon the grave breaches regime.
80. It is noteworthy that, although the appellants emphasised that the "nationality" referred to in Geneva Convention IV is to be understood as referring to the legal citizenship under domestic law, they accepted at the hearing that in the former Yugoslavia "nationality", in everyday conversation, refers to ethnicity.
81. The Appeals Chamber agrees with the Prosecution that depriving victims, who arguably are of the same nationality under domestic law as their captors, of the protection of the Geneva Conventions solely based on that national law would not be consistent with the object and purpose of the Conventions. Their very object could indeed be defeated if undue emphasis were placed on formal legal bonds, which could also be altered by governments to shield their nationals from prosecution based on the grave breaches provisions of the Geneva Conventions. A more purposive and realistic approach is particularly apposite in circumstances of the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and in the emerging State of Bosnia and Herzegovina where various parties were engaged in fighting, and the government was opposed to a partition based on ethnicity, which would have resulted in movements of population, and where, ultimately, the issue at stake was the final shape of the State and of the new emerging entities.
82. In Tadic, the Appeals Chamber, relying on a teleological approach, concluded that formal nationality may not be regarded as determinative in this context, whereas ethnicity may reflect more appropriately the reality of the bonds:
This legal approach, hinging on substantial relations more than on formal bonds, becomes all the more important in present-day international armed conflicts. While previously wars were primarily between well-established States, in modern interethnic armed conflicts such as that in the former Yugoslavia, new States are often created during the conflict and ethnicity rather than nationality may become the grounds for allegiance. Or, put another way, ethnicity may become determinative of national allegiance.
83. As found in previous Appeals Chamber jurisprudence, Article 4 of Geneva Convention IV is to be interpreted as intending to protect civilians who find themselves in the midst of an international, or internationalised, conflict to the maximum extent possible. The nationality requirement of Article 4 should therefore be ascertained upon a review of "the substance of relations" and not based on the legal characterisation under domestic legislation. In today's ethnic conflicts, the victims may be "assimilated" to the external State involved in the conflict, even if they formally have the same nationality as their captors, for the purposes of the application of humanitarian law, and of Article 4 of Geneva Convention IV specifically. The Appeals Chamber thus agrees with the Tadic Appeal Judgement that "even if in the circumstances of the case the perpetrators and the victims were to be regarded as possessing the same nationality, Article 4 would still be applicable".
84. Applying the principle enunciated in Aleksovski, the Appeals Chamber sees no cogent reasons in the interests of justice to depart from the Tadic Appeal Judgement. The nationality of the victims for the purpose of the application of Geneva Convention IV should not be determined on the basis of formal national characterisations, but rather upon an analysis of the substantial relations, taking into consideration the different ethnicity of the victims and the perpetrators, and their bonds with the foreign intervening State.
85. It is therefore necessary to consider the findings of the Trial Chamber to ascertain whether it applied these principles correctly.
2. Did the Trial Chamber Apply the Correct Legal Principles? 86. As in the section relating to the nature of the conflict, the Appeals Chamber first notes that the Tadic Appeal Judgement, which set forth the law applicable to the determination of protected person status, had not been issued at the time of the issue of the Trial Judgement. The Appeals Chamber will thus consider whether the Trial Chamber, although having not, from a formal viewpoint, applied the reasoning of the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Appeal Judgement, based its conclusions on legal reasoning consistent with it.
87. The issue before the Trial Chamber was whether the Bosnian Serb victims in the hands of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats could be regarded as protected persons, i.e., as having a different nationality from that of their captors.
88. The appellants argue that the Bosnian Serb victims detained in the Celebici camp were clearly nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and cannot be considered as FRY nationals. Thus, the victims could not be considered as "protected persons". The Prosecution on the other hand contends that the test applied by the Trial Chamber was consistent with the Tadic Appeal Judgement.
89. It is first necessary to address a particular argument before turning to an examination of the Trial Chamber's findings. Delalic submits, contrary to the Prosecution's assertions, the Tadic Appeal Judgement does not govern the protected persons issue in this case, because the facts of the two cases are dramatically different. The Appeals Chamber in Aleksovski observed that the principle that the Appeals Chamber will follow its previous decisions "only applies in similar cases, or substantially similar cases. This means less that the facts are similar or substantially similar, than that the question raised by the facts in the subsequent case is the same as the question decided by the legal principle in the previous decision".
90. In Tadic and Aleksovski the perpetrators were regarded as acting on behalf of an external party, the FRY and Croatia respectively, and the Bosnian Muslim victims were considered as protected persons by virtue of the fact that they did not have the nationality of the party in whose hands they found themselves. By contrast, in this case, where the accused are Bosnian Muslim or Bosnian Croat, no finding was made that they were acting on behalf of a foreign State, whereas the Bosnian Serb victims could be regarded as having links with the party (the Bosnian Serb armed forces) acting on behalf of a foreign State (the FRY). However, although the factual circumstances of these cases are different, the legal principle which is applicable to the facts is identical. The Appeals Chamber therefore finds the appellant's argument unconvincing.
91. The Trial Chamber found that the Bosnian Serb victims could be regarded "as having been in the hands of a party to the conflict of which they were not nationals, being Bosnian Serbs detained during an international armed conflict by a party to that conflict, the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina". The Trial Chamber essentially relied on a broad and purposive approach to reach its conclusion, rejecting the proposition that a determination of the nationality of the victims should be based on the domestic laws on citizenship.
92. The Trial Chamber first emphasised the role played by international law in relation to nationality, holding that "the International Tribunal may choose to refuse to recognise (or give effect to) a State's grant of its nationality to individuals for the purposes of applying international law". It then nevertheless found that "[a]n analysis of the relevant laws on nationality in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 does not, however, reveal a clear picture. At that time, as we have discussed, the State was struggling to achieve its independence and all the previous structures of the SFRY were dissolving. In addition, an international armed conflict was tearing Bosnia and Herzegovina apart and the very issue which was being fought over concerned the desire of certain groups within its population to separate themselves from that State and join with another". The Trial Chamber also noted that "the Bosnian Serbs, in their purported constitution of the SRBH, proclaimed that citizens of the Serb Republic were citizens of Yugoslavia".
93. The Trial Chamber also declined to rely upon the argument presented by the Prosecution's expert Professor Economides that there is an emerging doctrine in international law of the right to the nationality of one's own choosing. Finding that the principle of a right of option was not a settled rule of international law, the Trial Chamber held that this principle could not be, of itself, determinative in viewing the Bosnian Serbs to be non-nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
94. The Trial Chamber discussed the nationality link in the light of the Nottebohm case and concluded:
Assuming that Bosnia and Herzegovina had granted its nationality to the Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims in 1992, there may be an insufficient link between the Bosnian Serbs and that State for them to be considered Bosnian nationals by this Trial Chamber in the adjudication of the present case. The granting of nationality occurred within the context of the dissolution of a State and a consequent armed conflict. Furthermore, the Bosnian Serbs had clearly expressed their wish not to be nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina by proclaiming a constitution rendering them part of Yugoslavia and engaging in this armed conflict in order to achieve that aim. Such finding would naturally be limited to the issue of the application of international humanitarian law and would be for no wider purpose. It would also be in the spirit of that law by rendering it as widely applicable as possible.
95. In the light of its finding on the international character of the conflict, the Trial Chamber held that it is "possible to regard the Bosnian Serbs as acting on behalf of the FRY in its continuing armed conflict against the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina". The Bosnian Serb victims could thus be considered as having a different nationality from that of their captors.
96. That the Trial Chamber relied upon a broad and purposive, and ultimately realistic, approach is indicated by the following references which concluded its reasoning:
[T]his Trial Chamber wishes to emphasise the necessity of considering the requirements of article 4 of the Fourth Geneva Convention in a more flexible manner. The provisions of domestic legislation on citizenship in a situation of violent State succession cannot be determinative of the protected status of persons caught up in conflicts which ensue from such events. The Commentary to the Fourth Geneva Convention charges us not to forget that "the Conventions have been drawn up first and foremost to protect individuals, and not to serve State interests" and thus it is the view of this Trial Chamber that their protections should be applied to as broad a category of persons as possible. It would indeed be contrary to the intention of the Security Council, which was concerned with effectively addressing a situation that it had determined to be a threat to international peace and security, and with ending the suffering of all those caught up in the conflict, for the International Tribunal to deny the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention to any particular group of persons solely on the basis of their citizenship status under domestic law.
97. The Appeals Chamber finds that the legal reasoning adopted by the Trial Chamber is consistent with the Tadic reasoning. The Trial Chamber rejected an approach based upon formal national bonds in favour of an approach which accords due emphasis to the object and purpose of the Geneva Conventions. At the same time, the Trial Chamber took into consideration the realities of the circumstances of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, holding that "(t)he law must be applied to the reality of the situation". Although in some respects the legal reasoning of the Trial Chamber may appear to be broader than the reasoning adopted by the Appeals Chamber, this Appeals Chamber is satisfied that the conclusions reached fall within the scope of the Tadic reasoning. As submitted by the Prosecution, the Trial Chamber correctly sought to establish whether the victims could be regarded as belonging to the opposing side of the conflict.
98. The Appeals Chamber particularly agrees with the Trial Chamber's finding that the Bosnian Serb victims should be regarded as protected persons for the purposes of Geneva Convention IV because they "were arrested and detained mainly on the basis of their Serb identity" and "they were clearly regarded by the Bosnian authorities as belonging to the opposing party in an armed conflict and as posing a threat to the Bosnian State".
99. The Trial Chamber's holding that its finding "would naturally be limited to the issue of the application of international humanitarian law and would be for no wider purpose"123 also follows closely the Appeals Chamber's position that the legal test to ascertain the nationality of the victims is applicable within the limited context of humanitarian law, and for the specific purposes of the application of Geneva Convention IV in cases before the Tribunal. Land'o submitted in his brief that the Trial Chamber's finding suggests that a person can have one nationality for the purposes of national law, and another for purposes of international law, which, in his opinion, is contrary to international law. He also contended that the Trial Chamber's holding involuntarily deprives all Bosnian Serbs of their nationality. The argument that the Trial Chamber's findings have the consequence of regulating the nationality of the victims in the national sphere is unmeritorious. It should be made clear that the conclusions reached by international judges in the performance of their duties do not have the effect of regulating the nationality of these persons vis a vis the State within the national sphere. Nor do they purport to pronounce on the internal validity of the laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Appeals Chamber agrees with the Prosecution that the Trial Chamber did not act unreasonably in not giving weight to the evidence led by the Defence concerning the nationality of the particular victims under domestic law.
100. The appellants submit arguments based upon the "effective link" test derived from the ICJ case Nottebohm. In their view, the following indicia should be taken into consideration when assessing the nationality link of the victims with the FRY: place of birth, of education, of marriage, of vote, and habitual residence; the latter being, they submit, the most important criterion.
101. The Nottebohm case was concerned with ascertaining the effects of the national link for the purposes of the exercise of diplomatic protection, whereas in the instant case, the Appeals Chamber is faced with the task of determining whether the victims could be considered as having the nationality of a foreign State involved in the conflict, for the purposes of their protection under humanitarian law. It is thus irrelevant to demonstrate, as argued by the appellants, that the victims and their families had their habitual residence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or that they exercised their activities there. Rather, the issue at hand, in a situation of internationalised armed conflict, is whether the victims can be regarded as not sharing the same nationality as their captors, for the purposes of the Geneva Conventions, even if arguably they were of the same nationality from a domestic legal point of view.
102. Although the Trial Chamber referred to the Nottebohm "effective link" test in the course of its legal reasoning, its conclusion as to the nationality of the victims for the purposes of the Geneva Conventions did not depend on that test. The Trial Chamber emphasised that "operating on the international plane, the International Tribunal may choose to refuse to recognise (or give effect to) a State's grant of its nationality to individuals for the purposes of applying international law". Further, the Trial Chamber when assessing the nationality requirement clearly referred to the specific circumstances of the case and to the specific purposes of the application of humanitarian law.
103. Delalic further submitted that the Trial Chamber altered international law in relying upon the "secessionist activities" of the Bosnian Serbs to reach its conclusion, as the right to self-determination is not recognised in international law.
104. It is irrelevant to determine whether the activities with which the Bosnian Serbs were associated were in conformity with the right to self-determination or not. As previously stated, the question at issue is not whether this activity was lawful or whether it is in compliance with the right to self-determination. Rather, the issue relevant to humanitarian law is whether the civilians detained in the Celebici camp were protected persons in accordance with Geneva Convention IV.
105. Delic also submits that the Trial Chamber's finding that the Bosnian Serb victims were not Bosnian nationals is at odds with its factual conclusions that Bosnian Serbs were Bosnian citizens for the purpose of determining the existence of an international armed conflict.127 This argument has no merit. Contrary to the Appellant's contention, the findings of the Trial Chamber are not contradictory. In finding that the conflict which took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina was of an international character, the Trial Chamber merely concluded that a foreign State was involved and was supporting one of the parties in a conflict that was prima facie internal. This finding did not purport to make a determination as to the nationality of the party engaged in fighting with the support of the foreign State.
3. Conclusion 106. The Appeals Chamber finds that the legal reasoning applied by the Trial Chamber is consistent with the applicable legal principles identified in the Tadic Appeal Judgement. For the purposes of the application of Article 2 of the Statute to the present case, the Bosnian Serb victims detained in the Celebici camp must be regarded as having been in the hands of a party to the conflict, Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which they were not nationals. The appellants' grounds of appeal therefore fail.
C. Whether Bosnia and Herzegovina was a Party to the Geneva Conventions at the Time of the Events Alleged in the Indictment
107. Delic challenges the Trial Chamber's findings of guilt based on Article 2 of the Statute, which vests the Tribunal with the jurisdiction to prosecute grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Delic contends that because Bosnia and Herzegovina did not "accede" to the Geneva Conventions until 31 December 1992, i.e., after the events alleged in the Indictment, his acts committed before that date cannot be prosecuted under the treaty regime of grave breaches. Delic also argues that the Geneva Conventions do not constitute customary law. Therefore, in his opinion, the application of the Geneva Conventions to acts which occurred before the date of Bosnia and Herzegovina's "accession" to them would violate the principle of legality or nullem crimen sine lege. All counts based on Article 2 of the Statute in the Indictment should, he argues, thus be dismissed.
108. The Prosecution contends that regardless of whether or not Bosnia and Herzegovina was bound by the Geneva Conventions qua treaty obligations at the relevant time, the grave breaches provisions of the Geneva Conventions reflected customary international law at all material times. Further, Bosnia and Herzegovina was bound by the Geneva Conventions as a result of their instrument of succession deposited on 31 December 1992, which took effect on the date on which Bosnia and Herzegovina became independent, 6 March 1992.
109. The Appeals Chamber first takes note of the "declaration of succession" deposited by Bosnia and Herzegovina on 31 December 1992 with the Swiss Federal Council in its capacity as depositary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
110. Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of succession may be regarded as a "notification of succession" which is now defined by the 1978 Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of Treaties as "any notification, however phrased or named, made by a successor State expressing its consent to be considered as bound by the treaty".132 Thus, in the case of the replacement of a State by several others, "a newly independent State which makes a notification of succession [...] shall be considered a party to the treaty from the date of the succession of States or from the date of entry into force of the treaty, whichever is the later date.133 The date of 6 March 1992 is generally accepted as the official date of Bosnia and Herzegovina's independence (when it became a sovereign State) and it may be considered that it became an official party to the Geneva Conventions from this date". Indeed, the Swiss Federal Council subsequently notified the State parties to the Geneva Conventions that Bosnia and Herzegovina "became a party to the Conventions [...] at the date of its independence, i.e. on 6 March 1992".135 In this regard, the argument put forward by the appellants appears to confuse the concepts of "accession" and "succession".
111. Although Article 23(2) of the Convention also provides that pending notification of succession, the operation of the treaty in question shall be considered "suspended" between the new State and other parties to the treaty, the Appeals Chamber finds that in the case of this type of treaty, this provision is not applicable. This is because, for the following reasons, the Appeals Chamber confirms that the provisions applicable are binding on a State from creation. The Appeals Chamber is of the view that irrespective of any findings as to formal succession, Bosnia and Herzegovina would in any event have succeeded to the Geneva Conventions under customary law, as this type of convention entails automatic succession, i.e., without the need for any formal confirmation of adherence by the successor State. It may be now considered in international law that there is automatic State succession to multilateral humanitarian treaties in the broad sense, i.e., treaties of universal character which express fundamental human rights. It is noteworthy that Bosnia and Herzegovina itself recognised this principle before the ICJ.
Convention on 23 July 1993. Although the Convention was not in force at the time relevant to the issue at hand, the provisions of relevance to the issue before the Appeals Chamber codify rules of customary international law, as has been recognised by State. See, e.g., Declaration of Tanganyika, 1961, and the subsequent declarations made by new States since then (United Nations Legislative Series, ST/LEG/SER.B/14 p 177). The Appeals Chamber notes that the practice of international organisations (UN, ILO, ICRC) and States shows that there was a customary norm on succession de jure of States to general treaties, which applies automatically to human rights treaties.
112. It is indisputable that the Geneva Conventions fall within this category of universal multilateral treaties which reflect rules accepted and recognised by the international community as a whole. The Geneva Conventions enjoy nearly universal participation.
113. In light of the object and purpose of the Geneva Conventions, which is to guarantee the protection of certain fundamental values common to mankind in times of armed conflict, and of the customary nature of their provisions, the Appeals Chamber is in no doubt that State succession has no impact on obligations arising out from these fundamental humanitarian conventions. In this regard, reference should be made to the Secretary-General's Report submitted at the time of the establishment of the Tribunal, which specifically lists the Geneva Conventions among the international humanitarian instruments which are "beyond any doubt part of customary law so that the problem of adherence of some but not all States to specific conventions does not arise". The Appeals Chamber finds further support for this position in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision.
114. For these reasons the Appeals Chamber finds that there was no gap in the protection afforded by the Geneva Conventions, as they, and the obligations arising therefrom, were in force for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time of the acts alleged in the Indictment.
115. The Appeals Chamber dismisses this ground of appeal.
III. GROUNDS OF APPEAL RELATING TO ARTICLE 3 OF THE STATUTE
116. Delalic, Mucic and Delic challenge the Trial Chamber's findings that (1) offences within common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 are encompassed within Article 3 of the Statute; (2) common Article 3 imposes individual criminal responsibility; and (3) that common Article 3 is applicable to international armed conflicts. The appellants argue that the Appeals Chamber should not follow its previous conclusions in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision, which, it is submitted, was wrongly decided. That Decision determined that violations of common Article 3 were subjected to the Tribunal's jurisdiction under Article 3 of its Statute, and that, as a matter of customary law, common Article 3 was applicable to both internal and international conflicts and entailed individual criminal responsibility. The Prosecution submits that the appellants' grounds should be rejected because they are not consistent with the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision, which the Appeals Chamber should follow. The Prosecution contends that the grounds raised by the appellants for reopening the Appeals Chamber's previous reasoning are neither founded nor sufficient.
117. As noted by the parties, the issues raised in this appeal were previously addressed by the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision. In accordance with the principle set out in the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, as enunciated in paragraph 8 of this Judgement, the Appeals Chamber will follow its Tadic jurisprudence on the issues, unless there exist cogent reasons in the interests of justice to depart from it.
118. The grounds presented by the appellants raise three different issues in relation to common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions: (1) whether common Article 3 falls within the scope of Article 3 of the Tribunal's Statute; (2) whether common Article 3 is applicable to international armed conflicts; (3) whether common Article 3 imposes individual criminal responsibility. After reviewing the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision in respect of each of these issues to determine whether there exist cogent reasons to depart from it, the Appeals Chamber will turn to an analysis of the Trial Judgement to ascertain whether it applied the correct legal principles in disposing of the issues before it.
119. As a preliminary issue, the Appeals Chamber will consider one of the appellants' submissions concerning the status of the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision, which is relevant to the discussion of all three issues.
120. In their grounds of appeal, the appellants invite the Appeals Chamber to reverse the position it took in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision concerning the applicability of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions under Article 3 of the Statute, and thus to revisit the issues raised. Delalic inter alia submits that the Appeals Chamber did not conduct a rigorous analysis at the time (suggesting also that there is a difference in nature between interlocutory appeals and post-judgement appeals) and that many of the issues raised now were not briefed or considered in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision. In the appellants' view, the Decision was rendered per incuriam. Such a reason affecting a judgement was envisaged in the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement as providing a basis for departing from an earlier decision.
121. As to the contention that the arguments which the appellants make now were not before the Appeals Chamber in Tadic, the Prosecution submits that it is not the case that they were not considered in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision: the essence of most of the arguments now submitted by the appellants was addressed and decided by the Appeals Chamber in that Decision. In relation to the argument that the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision was not based on a rigorous analysis, the Prosecution submits that that Decision contains detailed reasoning and that issues decided in an interlocutory appeal should not be regarded as having any lesser status than a decision of the Appeals Chamber given after the Trial Chamber's judgement. Further, the Decision was not given per incuriam, as the Appeals Chamber focused specifically on this issue, the arguments were extensive and many authorities were referred to. In the Prosecution's submission, there are therefore no reasons to depart from it.
122. This Appeals Chamber is of the view that there is no reason why interlocutory decisions of the Appeals Chamber should be considered, as a matter of principle, as having any lesser status than a final decision on appeal. The purpose of an appeal, whether on an interlocutory or on a final basis, is to determine the issues raised with finality. There is therefore no basis in the interlocutory status of the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision to consider it as having been made per incuriam.
A. Whether Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions Falls Within the Scope of Article 3 of the Statute
1. What is the Applicable Law? 123. Article 3 of the Statute entitled "Violations of the Laws or Customs of War" reads:
The International Tribunal shall have the power to prosecute persons violating the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to:
- (a) employment of poisonous weapons or other weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering;
- (b) wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
- (c) attack, or bombardment, by whatever means, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings;
- (d) seizure of, destruction or willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and science, historic monuments and works of art and science;
- (e) plunder of public or private property.
124. Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions provides in relevant parts that:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
- (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in anyplace whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
- (a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
- (b) Taking of hostages;
- (c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
- (d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognised as indispensable by civilised peoples.
- (2) The wounded and the sick shall be collected and cared for.
125. In relation to the scope of Article 3 of the Statute, the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision held that Article 3 "is a general clause covering all violations of humanitarian law not falling under Article 2 or covered by Articles 4 and 5". It went on:
Article 3 thus confers on the International Tribunal jurisdiction over any serious offence against international humanitarian law not covered by Articles 2, 4 or 5. Article 3 is a fundamental provision laying down that any "serious violation of international humanitarian law" must be prosecuted by the International Tribunal. In other words, Article 3 functions as a residual clause designed to ensure that no serious violation of international humanitarian law is taken away from the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal. Article 3 aims to make such jurisdiction watertight and inescapable.
126. The conclusion of the Appeals Chamber was based on a careful analysis of the Secretary-General's Report. The Appeals Chamber inter alia emphasised that the Secretary-General acknowledged that the Hague Regulations, annexed to the 1907 Hague Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, which served as a basis for Article 3 of the Statute, "have a broader scope than the Geneva Conventions, in that they cover not only the protection of victims of armed violence (civilians) or of those who no longer take part in the hostilities (prisoners of war), but also the conduct of hostilities". The Appeals Chamber noted that, although the Secretary-General's Report subsequently indicated "that the violations explicitly listed in Article 3 relate to Hague law not contained in the Geneva Conventions", Article 3 contains the phrase "shall include but not be limited to". The Appeals Chamber concluded: "Considering this list in the general context of the Secretary-General's discussion of the Hague Regulations and international humanitarian law, we conclude that this list may be construed to include other infringements of international humanitarian law."
127. In support of its conclusion, the Appeals Chamber also relied on statements made by States in the Security Council at the time of the adoption of the Statute of the Tribunal, which "can be regarded as providing an authoritative interpretation of Article 3 to the effect that its scope is much broader than the enumerated violations of Hague law". The Appeals Chamber also relied on a teleological approach in its analysis of the provisions of the Statute. Reference was also made to the context and purpose of the Statute as a whole, and in particular to the fact that the Tribunal was established to prosecute "serious violations of international humanitarian law". It continued: "Thus, if correctly interpreted, Article 3 fully realises the primary purpose of the establishment of the International Tribunal, that is, not to leave unpunished any person guilty of any such serious violation, whatever the context within which it may have been committed". The Appeals Chamber concluded that Article 3 is intended to incorporate violations of both Hague (conduct of war) and Geneva (protection of victims) law provided that certain conditions, inter alia relating to the customary status of the rule, are met.
128. The Appeals Chamber then went on to specify four requirements that must be met in order for a violation of international humanitarian law to be subject to Article 3 of the Statute. The Appeals Chamber then considered the question of which such violations, when committed in internal conflicts, met these requirements. It discussed in depth the existence of customary international humanitarian rules applicable to internal conflicts, and found that State practice had developed since the 1930s, to the effect that customary rules exist applicable to non-international conflicts. These rules include common Article 3 but also go beyond it to include rules relating to the methods of warfare.
129. The Appeals Chamber will now turn to the arguments of the appellants which discuss the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision conclusions in order to determine whether there exist cogent reasons in the interests of justice to depart from them.
130. In support of their submission that violations of common Article 3 are not within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, the appellants argue that in adopting Article 3 of the Statute, the Security Council never intended to permit prosecutions under this Article for violations of common Article 3, and, had the Security Council intended to include common Article 3 within the ambit of Article 3, it would have expressly included it in Article 2 of the Statute, which deals with the law related to the protection of victims. In their opinion, an analysis of Article 3 of the Statute shows that it is limited to Hague law. A related argument presented by the appellants is that Article 3 can only be expanded to include offences which are comparable and lesser offences than those already listed, and not to include offences of much greater magnitude and of a completely different character. In support of their argument, the appellants also rely on a comparison of the ICTY and ICTR Statutes, as Article 4 of the ICTR Statute explicitly includes common Article 3. The appellants further argue that the Security Council viewed the conflict taking place in the former Yugoslavia as international, and accordingly provided for the prosecution of serious violations of humanitarian law in the context of an international conflict only. The Prosecution submits that the Appeals Chamber should follow its previous conclusion in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision.
131. As to the appellants' argument based on the intention of the Security Council, the Appeals Chamber is of the view that the Secretary-General's Report and the statements made by State representatives in the Security Council at the time of the adoption of the Statute, as analysed in Tadic, clearly support a conclusion that the list of offences listed in Article 3 was meant to cover violations of all of the laws or customs of war, understood broadly, in addition to those mentioned in the Article by way of example. Recourse to interpretative statements made by States at the time of the adoption of a resolution may be appropriately made by an international court when ascertaining the meaning of the text adopted, as they constitute an important part of the legislative history of the Statute. These statements may shed light on some aspects of the drafting and adoption of the Statute as well as on its object and purpose, when no State contradicts that interpretation, as noted in Tadic.166 This is consistent with the accepted rules of treaty interpretation.
132. The Appeals Chamber is similarly unconvinced by the appellants' submission that it is illogical to incorporate violations of common Article 3 which are "Geneva law" rules, within Article 3 which covers "Hague law" rules. The Appeals Chamber in Tadic discussed the evolution of the meaning of the expression "war crimes". It found that war crimes have come to be understood as covering both Geneva and Hague law, and that violations of the laws or customs of war cover both types of rules. The traditional law of warfare concerning the protection of persons (both taking part and not taking part in hostilities) and property is now more correctly termed "international humanitarian law" and has a broader scope, including, for example, the Geneva Conventions. The ICRC Commentary (GC IV) indeed stated that "the Geneva Conventions form part of what are generally called the laws and customs of war, violations of which are commonly called war crimes". Further, Additional Protocol I contains rules of both Geneva and Hague origin.
133. Recent confirmation that a strict separation between Hague and Geneva law in contemporary international humanitarian law based on the "type" of rules is no longer warranted may be found in Article 8 of the ICC Statute. This Article covers "War crimes" generally, namely grave breaches and "other serious violations of the laws and customs of war applicable in international armed conflict"; violations of common Article 3 in non-international armed conflicts; and "other serious violations of the laws and customs of war applicable in non-international armed conflict". The Appeals Chamber thus confirms the view expressed in the Tadic Appeal Judgement that the expression "laws and customs of war" has evolved to encompass violations of Geneva law at the time the alleged offences were committed, and that consequently, Article 3 of the Statute may be interpreted as intending the incorporation of Geneva law rules. It follows that the appellants' argument that violations of common Article 3 cannot be included in Article 3 as they are of a different fails.
134. Turning next to the appellants' argument that common Article 3 would more logically be incorporated in Article 2 of the Statute, the Appeals Chamber observes that the Geneva Conventions themselves make a distinction between the grave breaches and other violations of their provisions. The offences enumerated in common Article 3 may be considered as falling into the category of other serious violations of the Geneva Conventions, and are thus included within the general clause of Article 3. There is thus no apparent inconsistency in not including them in the scope of Article 2 of the Statute. This approach based on a distinction between the grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other serious violations of the Conventions, has also later been followed in the ICC Statute.
135. As will be discussed below, the appellants' argument that the Security Council viewed the conflict as international, even if correct, would not be determinative of the issue, as the prohibitions listed under common Article 3 are also applicable to international conflicts. It is, however, appropriate to note here that the Appeals Chamber does not share the view of the appellants that the Security Council and the Secretary-General determined that the conflict in the former Yugoslavia at the time of the creation of the Tribunal was international. In the Appeals Chamber's view, the Secretary-General's Report does not take a position as to whether the various conflicts within the former Yugoslavia were international in character for purposes of the applicable law as of a particular date. The Statute was worded neutrally. Article 1 of the Statute entitled "Competence of the International Tribunal" vests the Tribunal with the power to prosecute "serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991", making no reference to the nature of the conflict. This supports the interpretation that the Security Council in adopting the Statute was of the view that the question of the nature of the conflict should be judicially determined by the Tribunal itself, the issue involving factual and legal questions.
136. The Appeals Chamber thus finds no cogent reasons in the interests of justice to depart from its previous jurisprudence concerning the question of whether common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions is included in the scope of Article 3 of the Statute.
2. Did the Trial Chamber Follow the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision? 137. The Trial Chamber generally relied on the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision as it found "no reason to depart" from it. That the Trial Chamber accepted that common Article 3 is incorporated in Article 3 of the Statute appears clearly from the following findings. The Trial Chamber referred to paragraphs 87 and 91 of the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision to describe the "division of labour between Articles 2 and 3 of the Statute". The Trial Chamber went on to hold that "this Trial Chamber is in no doubt that the intention of the Security Council was to ensure that all serious violations of international humanitarian law, committed within the relevant geographical and temporal limits, were brought within the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal."
138. In respect of the customary status of common Article 3, the Trial Chamber found:
While in 1949 the insertion of a provision concerning internal armed conflicts into the Geneva Conventions may have been innovative, there can be no question that the protections and prohibitions enunciated in that provision have come to form part of customary international law. As discussed at length by the Appeals Chamber, a corpus of law concerning the regulation of hostilities and protection of victims in internal armed conflicts is now widely recognised.
139. The Appeals Chamber therefore finds that the Trial Chamber correctly adopted the Appeals Chamber's statement of the law in disposing of this issue.
B. Whether Common Article 3 is Applicable to International Armed Conflicts
1. What is the Applicable Law? 140. In the course of its discussion of the existence of customary rules of international humanitarian law governing internal armed conflicts, the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision observed a tendency towards the blurring of the distinction between interstate and civil wars as far as human beings are concerned. It then found that some treaty rules, and common Article 3 in particular, which constitutes a mandatory minimum code applicable to internal conflicts, had gradually become part of customary law. In support of its position that violations of common Article 3 are applicable regardless of the nature of the conflict, the Appeals Chamber referred to the ICJ holding in Nicaragua that the rules set out in common Article 3 reflect "elementary considerations of humanity" applicable under customary international law to any conflict. The ICJ in Nicaragua discussed the customary status of common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions and held:
Article 3 which is common to all four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 defines certain rules to be applied in the armed conflicts of a noninternational character. There is no doubt that, in the event of international armed conflicts, these rules also constitute a minimum yardstick, in addition to the more elaborate rules which are also to apply to international conflicts; and they are rules which, in the Court's opinion, reflect what the Court in 1949 called "elementary considerations of humanity" (Corfu Channel, Merits, I.C.J. Reports 1949, p. 22; paragraph 215).
Thus, relying on Nicaragua, the Appeals Chamber concluded:
Therefore at least with respect to the minimum rules in common Article 3, the character of the conflict is irrelevant.
141. The Appeals Chamber also considered that the procedural mechanism, provided for in common Article 3, inviting parties to internal conflicts to agree to abide by the rest of the Conventions, "reflect an understanding that certain fundamental rules should apply regardless of the nature of the conflict." The Appeals Chamber also found that General Assembly resolutions corroborated the existence of certain rules of war concerning the protection of civilians and property applicable in both internal and international armed conflicts.
142. Referring to the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision, which the Trial Chamber followed, Delalic argues that the Appeals Chamber failed to properly consider the status of common Article 3, and in particular failed to analyse state practice and opinio juris, in support of its conclusion that it was, as a matter of customary international law, applicable to international armed conflicts. Further, in his opinion, the findings of the ICJ on the customary status of common Article 3 and its applicability to both internal and international conflicts are dicta. The Prosecution is of the view that, as stated by the ICJ in Nicaragua, it is because common Article 3 gives expression to elementary considerations of humanity, which are applicable irrespective of the nature of the conflict, that common Article 3 is applicable to international conflicts.
143. It is indisputable that common Article 3, which sets forth a minimum core of mandatory rules, reflects the fundamental humanitarian principles which underlie international humanitarian law as a whole, and upon which the Geneva Conventions in their entirety are based. These principles, the object of which is the respect for the dignity of the human person, developed as a result of centuries of warfare and had already become customary law at the time of the adoption of the Geneva Conventions because they reflect the most universally recognised humanitarian principles. These principles were codified in common Article 3 to constitute the minimum core applicable to internal conflicts, but are so fundamental that they are regarded as governing both internal and international conflicts. In the words of the ICRC, the purpose of common Article 3 was to "ensur(e) respect for the few essential rules of humanity which all civilised nations consider as valid everywhere and under all circumstances and as being above and outside war itself". These rules may thus be considered as the "quintessence" of the humanitarian rules found in the Geneva Conventions as a whole.
144. It is these very principles that the ICJ considered as giving expression to fundamental standards of humanity applicable in all circumstances.
145. That these standards were considered as reflecting the principles applicable to the Conventions in their entirety and as constituting substantially similar core norms applicable to both types of conflict is clearly supported by the ICRC Commentary (GC IV):
This minimum requirement in the case of noninternational conflict, is a fortiori applicable in international armed conflicts. It proclaims the guiding principle common to all four Geneva Conventions, and from it each of them derives the essential provision around which it is built.
146. This is entirely consistent with the logic and spirit of the Geneva Conventions; it is a "logical application of its fundamental principle". Specifically, in relation to the substantive rules set out in subparagraphs (1) (a)-(d) of common Article 3, the ICRC Commentary continues:
The value of the provision is not limited to the field dealt with in Article 3. Representing, as it does, the minimum which must be applied in the least determinate of conflicts, its terms must a fortiori be respected in the case of international conflicts proper, when all the provisions of the Convention are applicable. For "the greater obligation includes the lesser", as one might say.
147. Common Article 3 may thus be considered as the "minimum yardstick" of rules of international humanitarian law of similar substance applicable to both internal and international conflicts. It should be noted that the rules applicable to international conflicts are not limited to the minimum rules set out in common Article 3, as international conflicts are governed by more detailed rules. The rules contained in common Article 3 are considered as applicable to international conflicts because they constitute the core of the rules applicable to such conflicts. There can be no doubt that the acts enumerated in inter alia subparagraphs (a), violence to life, and (c), outrages upon personal dignity, are heinous acts "which the world public opinion finds particularly revolting". These acts are also prohibited in the grave breaches provisions of Geneva Convention IV, such as Article 147. Article 75 of Additional Protocol I, applicable to international conflicts, also provides a minimum of protection to any person unable to claim a particular status. Its paragraph 75(2) is directly inspired by the text of common Article 3.
148. This interpretation is further confirmed by a consideration of other branches of international law, and more particularly of human rights law.
149. Both human rights and humanitarian law focus on respect for human values and the dignity of the human person. Both bodies of law take as their starting point the concern for human dignity, which forms the basis of a list of fundamental minimum standards of humanity. The ICRC Commentary on the Additional Protocols refers to their common ground in the following terms: "This irreducible core of human rights, also known as 'non-derogable rights' corresponds to the lowest level of protection which can be claimed by anyone at anytime [...]".
The universal and regional human rights instruments and the Geneva Conventions share a common "core" of fundamental standards which are applicable at all times, in all circumstances and to all parties, and from which no derogation is permitted. The object of the fundamental standards appearing in both bodies of law is the protection of the human person from certain heinous acts considered as unacceptable by all civilised nations in all circumstances.
150. It is both legally and morally untenable that the rules contained in common Article 3, which constitute mandatory minimum rules applicable to internal conflicts, in which rules are less developed than in respect of international conflicts, would not be applicable to conflicts of an international character. The rules of common Article 3 are encompassed and further developed in the body of rules applicable to international conflicts. It is logical that this minimum be applicable to international conflicts as the substance of these core rules is identical. In the Appeals Chamber's view, something which is prohibited in internal conflicts is necessarily outlawed in an international conflict where the scope of the rules is broader. The Appeals Chamber is thus not convinced by the arguments raised by the appellants and finds no cogent reasons to depart from its previous conclusions.
2. Did the Trial Chamber Follow the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision? 151. The Trial Chamber found:
While common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions was formulated to apply to internal armed conflicts, it is also clear from the above discussion that its substantive prohibitions apply equally in situations of international armed conflicts. Similarly, and as stated by the Appeals Chamber, the crimes falling under Article 3 of the Statute of the International Tribunal may be committed in either kind of conflicts. The Trial Chamber's finding that the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 was of an international nature does not, therefore, impact upon the application of Article 3.
152. The Trial Chamber therefore clearly followed the Appeals Chamber jurisprudence.
C. Whether Common Article 3 Imposes Individual Criminal Responsibility
1. What is the Applicable Law? 153. The Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision, in analysing whether common Article 3 attracts individual criminal responsibility first noted that "common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions contains no explicit reference to criminal liability for violation of its provisions". Referring however to the findings of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg that a finding of individual criminal responsibility is not barred by the absence of treaty provisions on punishment of breaches, provided certain conditions are fulfilled, it found:
Applying the foregoing criteria to the violations at issue here, we have no doubt that they entail individual criminal responsibility, regardless of whether they are committed in internal or international conflicts. Principles and rules of humanitarian law reflect "elementary considerations of humanity" widely recognised as the mandatory minimum for conduct in armed conflict of any kind. No one can doubt the gravity of the acts at issue, nor the interest of the international community in their prohibition.
154. In the Appeals Chamber's opinion, this conclusion was also supported by "many elements of international practice (which) show that States intend to criminalise serious breaches of customary rules and principles on internal conflicts". Specific reference was made to prosecutions before Nigerian courts, national military manuals, national legislation (including the law of the former Yugoslavia adopted by Bosnia and Herzegovina after its independence),204 and resolutions adopted unanimously by the Security Council.
155. The Appeals Chamber found further support for its conclusion in the law of the former Yugoslavia as it stood at the time of the offences alleged in the Indictment:
Nationals of the former Yugoslavia as well as, at present, those of Bosnia-Herzegovina were therefore aware, or should have been aware, that they were amenable to the jurisdiction of their national criminal courts in cases of violation of international humanitarian law.
156. Reliance was also placed by the Appeals Chamber on the agreement reached under the auspices of the ICRC on 22 May 1992, in order to conclude that the breaches of international law occurring within the context of the conflict, regarded as internal by the agreement, could be criminally sanctioned.
157. The appellants contend that the evidence presented in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision does not establish that common Article 3 is customary international law that creates individual criminal responsibility because there is no showing of State practice and opinio juris. Additionally, the appellants submit that at the time of the adoption of the Geneva Conventions in 1949, common Article 3 was excluded from the grave breaches system and thus did not fall within the scheme providing for individual criminal responsibility. In their view, the position had not changed at the time of the adoption of Additional Protocol II in 1977. It is further argued that common Article 3 imposes duties on States only and is meant to be enforced by domestic legal systems.
158. In addition, the appellants argue that solid evidence exists which demonstrates that common Article 3 is not a rule of customary law which imposes liability on natural persons. Particular emphasis is placed on the ICTR Statute and the Secretary-General's Report which states that common Article 3 was criminalised for the first time in the ICTR Statute.
159. The Prosecution argues that the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision previously disposed of the issue and should be followed. The Prosecution submits that, if violations of the international laws of war have traditionally been regarded as criminal under international law, there is no reason of principle why once those laws came to be extended to the context of internal armed conflicts, their violation in that context should not have been criminal, at least in the absence of clear indications to the contrary. It is further submitted that since 1949, customary law and international humanitarian law have developed to such an extent that today universal jurisdiction does not only exist in relation to the grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions but also in relation to other types of serious violations of international humanitarian law. The Prosecution contends that this conclusion is not contrary to the principle of legality, which does not preclude development of criminal law, so long as those developments do not criminalise conduct which at the time it was committed could reasonably have been regarded as legitimate.
160. Whereas, as a matter of strict treaty law, provision is made only for the prosecution of grave breaches committed within the context of an international conflict, the Appeals Chamber in Tadic found that as a matter of customary law, breaches of international humanitarian law committed in internal conflicts, including violations of common Article 3, could also attract individual criminal responsibility.
161. Following the appellants' argument, two different regimes of criminal responsibility would exist based on the different legal characterisation of an armed conflict. As a consequence, the same horrendous conduct committed in an internal conflict could not be punished. The Appeals Chamber finds that the arguments put forward by the appellants do not withstand scrutiny.
162. As concluded by the Appeals Chamber in Tadic, the fact that common Article 3 does not contain an explicit reference to individual criminal liability does not necessarily bear the consequence that there is no possibility to sanction criminally a violation of this rule. The IMT indeed followed a similar approach, as recalled in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision when the Appeals Chamber found that a finding of individual criminal responsibility is not barred by the absence of treaty provisions on punishment of breaches. The Nuremberg Tribunal clearly established that individual acts prohibited by international law constitute criminal offences even though there was no provision regarding the jurisdiction to try violations: "Crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced".
163. The appellants argue that the exclusion of common Article 3 from the Geneva Conventions grave breaches system, which provides for universal jurisdiction, has the necessary consequence that common Article 3 attracts no individual criminal responsibility. This is misconceived. In the Appeals Chamber's view, the appellants' argument fails to make a distinction between two separate issues, the issue of criminalisation on the one hand, and the issue of jurisdiction on the other. Criminalisation may be defined as the act of outlawing or making illegal certain behaviour. Jurisdiction relates more to the judicial authority to prosecute those criminal acts. These two concepts do not necessarily always correspond. The Appeals Chamber is in no doubt that the acts enumerated in common Article 3 were intended to be criminalised in 1949, as they were clearly intended to be illegal within the international legal order. The language of common Article 3 clearly prohibits fundamental offences such as murder and torture. However, no jurisdictional or enforcement mechanism was provided for in the Geneva Conventions at the time.
164. This interpretation is supported by the provisions of the Geneva Conventions themselves, which impose on State parties the duty "to respect and ensure respect for the present Conventions in all circumstances". Common Article 1 thus imposes upon State parties, upon ratification, an obligation to implement the provisions of the Geneva Conventions in their domestic legislation. This obligation clearly covers the Conventions in their entirety and this obligation thus includes common Article 3. The ICJ in the Nicaragua case found that common Article 1 also applies to internal conflicts.
165. In addition, the third paragraph of Article 146 of Geneva Convention IV, after setting out the universal jurisdiction mechanism applicable to grave breaches, provides:
Each High Contracting Party shall take measures necessary for the suppression of all acts contrary to the provisions of the present Convention other than the grave breaches defined in the following Article.
166. The ICRC Commentary (GC IV) stated in relation to this provision that "there is no doubt that what is primarily meant is the repression of breaches other than the grave breaches listed and only in the second place administrative measures to ensure respect for the provisions of the Convention". It then concluded:
This shows that all breaches of the Convention should be repressed by national legislation. The Contracting Parties who have taken measures to repress the various grave breaches of the Convention and have fixed an appropriate penalty in each case should at least insert in their legislation a general clause providing for the punishment of other breaches. Furthermore, under the terms of this paragraph, the authorities of the Contracting Parties should give all those subordinate to them instructions in conformity with the Convention and should institute judicial or disciplinary punishment for breaches of the Convention.
167. This, in the Appeals Chamber's view, clearly demonstrates that, as these provisions do not provide for exceptions, the Geneva Conventions envisaged that violations of common Article 3 could entail individual criminal responsibility under domestic law, which is accepted by the appellants. The absence of such legislation providing for the repression of such violations would, arguably, be inconsistent with the general obligation contained in common Article 1 of the Conventions.
168. As referred to by the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision, States have adopted domestic legislation providing for the prosecution of violations of common Article 3. Since 1995, several more States have adopted legislation criminalising violations of common Article 3, thus further confirming the conclusion that States regard violations of common Article 3 as constituting crimes. Prosecutions based on common Article 3 under domestic legislation have also taken place.
169. The Appeals Chamber is also not convinced by the appellants' submission that sanctions for violations of common Article 3 are intended to be enforced at the national level only. In this regard, the Appeals Chambers refers to its previous conclusion on the customary nature of common Article 3 and its incorporation in Article 3 of the Statute.
170. The argument that the ICTR Statute, which is concerned with an internal conflict, made violations of common Article 3 subject to prosecution at the international level, in the Appeals Chamber's opinion, reinforces this interpretation. The Secretary-General's statement that violations of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions were criminalised for the first time, meant that provisions for international jurisdiction over such violations were expressly made for the first time. This is so because the Security Council when it established the ICTR was not creating new law but was inter alia codifying existing customary rules for the purposes of the jurisdiction of the ICTR. In the Appeals Chamber's view, in establishing this Tribunal, the Security Council simply created an international mechanism for the prosecution of crimes which were already the subject of individual criminal responsibility.
171. The Appeals Chamber is unable to find any reason of principle why, once the application of rules of international humanitarian law came to be extended (albeit in an attenuated form) to the context of internal armed conflicts, their violation in that context could not be criminally enforced at the international level. This is especially true in relation to prosecution conducted by an international tribunal created by the UN Security Council, in a situation where it specifically called for the prosecution of persons responsible for violations of humanitarian law in an armed conflict regarded as constituting a threat to international peace and security pursuant to Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
172. In light of the fact that the majority of the conflicts in the contemporary world are internal, to maintain a distinction between the two legal regimes and their criminal consequences in respect of similarly egregious acts because of the difference in nature of the conflicts would ignore the very purpose of the Geneva Conventions, which is to protect the dignity of the human person.
173. The Appeals Chamber is similarly unconvinced by the appellants' argument that such an interpretation of common Article 3 violates the principle of legality. The scope of this principle was discussed in the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, which held that the principle of nullem crimen sine lege does not prevent a court from interpreting and clarifying the elements of a particular crime. It is universally acknowledged that the acts enumerated in common Article 3 are wrongful and shock the conscience of civilised people, and thus are, in the language of Article 15(2) of the ICCPR, "criminal according to the general principles of law recognised by civilised nations."
174. The Appeals Chamber is unable to find any cogent reasons in the interests of justice to depart from the conclusions on this issue in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision.
2. Did the Trial Chamber Apply the Correct Legal Principles? 175. The Appeals Chamber notes that the appellants raised before the Trial Chamber the same arguments now raised in this appeal. The Trial Chamber held:
Once again, this is a matter which has been addressed by the Appeals Chamber in the Tadic Jurisdiction Decision and the Trial Chamber sees no reason to depart from its findings. In its Decision, the Appeals Chamber examines various national laws as well as practice, to illustrate that there are many instances of penal provisions for violations of the laws applicable in internal armed conflicts. From these sources, the Appeals Chamber extrapolates that there is nothing inherently contrary to the concept of individual criminal responsibility for violations of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and that, indeed, such responsibility does ensue.
176. It then concluded:
The fact that the Geneva Conventions themselves do not expressly mention that there shall be criminal liability for violations of common Article 3 clearly does not in itself preclude such liability. Furthermore, identification of the violation of certain provisions of the Conventions as constituting "grave breaches" and thus subject to mandatory universal jurisdiction, certainly cannot be interpreted as rendering all of the remaining provisions of the Conventions as without criminal sanction. While "grave breaches" must be prosecuted and punished by all States, "other" breaches of the Geneva Conventions may be so. Consequently, an international tribunal such as this must also be permitted to prosecute and punish such violations of the Conventions.
177. In support of this conclusion, which fully accords with the position taken by the Appeals Chamber, the Trial Chamber went on to refer to the ILC Draft Code of Crimes against the Peace and Security of Mankind and the ICC Statute. The Trial Chamber was careful to emphasise that although "these instruments were all drawn up after the acts alleged in the Indictment, they serve to illustrate the widespread conviction that the provisions of common Article 3 are not incompatible with the attribution of individual criminal responsibility".
178. In relation to the ICTR Statute and the Secretary-General's statement in his ICTR report that common Article 3 was criminalised for the first time, the Trial Chamber held: "the United Nations cannot 'criminalise' any of the provisions of international humanitarian law by the simple act of granting subject-matter jurisdiction to an international tribunal. The International Tribunal merely identifies and applies existing customary international law and, as stated above, this is not dependent upon an express recognition in the Statute of the content of that custom, although express reference may be made, as in the Statute of the ICTR". This statement is fully consistent with the Appeals Chamber's finding that the lack of explicit reference to common Article 3 in the Tribunal's Statute does not warrant a conclusion that violations of common Article 3 may not attract individual criminal responsibility.
179. The Trial Chamber's holding in respect of the principle of legality is also consonant with the Appeals Chamber's position. The Trial Chamber made reference to Article 15 of the ICCPR, and to the Criminal Code of the SFRY, adopted by Bosnia and Herzegovina, before concluding:
It is undeniable that acts such as murder, torture, rape and inhuman treatment are criminal according to "general principles of law" recognised by all legal systems. Hence the caveat contained in Article 15, paragraph 2, of the ICCPR should be taken into account when considering the application of the principle of nullum crimen sine lege in the present case. The purpose of this principle is to prevent the prosecution and punishment of an individual for acts which he reasonably believed to be lawful at the time of their commission. It strains credibility to contend that the accused would not recognise the criminal nature of the acts alleged in the Indictment. The fact that they could not foresee the creation of an International Tribunal which would be the forum for prosecution is of no consequence.
180. The Appeals Chamber fully agrees with this statement and finds that the Trial Chamber applied the correct legal principles in disposing of the issues before it.
181. It follows that the appellants' grounds of appeal fail.
IV. GROUNDS OF APPEAL CONCERNING COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY
182. In the present appeal, Mucic and the Prosecution have filed grounds of appeal which relate to the principles of command responsibility. Article 7(3) of the Statute, "Individual criminal responsibility", provides that:
The fact that any of the acts referred to in articles 2 to 5 of the present Statute was committed by a subordinate does not relieve his superior of criminal responsibility if he knew or had reason to know that the subordinate was about to commit such acts or had done so and the superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators thereof.
A. The Ninth Ground of Appeal of Mucic
183. The ninth ground of Mucic's appeal alleges both a legal and factual error on the part of the Trial Chamber in finding that Mucic had, at the time when the crimes concerned in this case were being committed, the de facto authority of a commander in the Celebici camp. Most of the arguments presented by Mucic are concerned with the Trial Chamber's factual findings. The Prosecution argues that Mucic's ground be denied.
184. The Appeals Chamber understands that the remedy desired by the appellant in this ground of appeal is an acquittal of those convictions based on his command responsibility.
185. The Appeals Chamber will first consider the issue of whether a superior may be held liable for the acts of subordinates on the basis of de facto authority, before turning to the arguments relating to alleged errors of fact.
1. de facto Authority as a Basis for a Finding of Superior Responsibility in International Law 186. In his brief, Mucic appeared to contest the issue of whether a de facto status is sufficient for the purpose of ascribing criminal responsibility under Article 7(3) of the Statute. It is submitted that de facto status must be equivalent to de jure status in order for a superior to be held responsible for the acts of subordinates. He submits that a person in a position of de facto authority must be shown to wield the same kind of control over subordinates as de jure superiors. In the appellant's view, the approach taken by the Trial Chamber that the absence of formal legal authority, in relation to civilian and military structures, does not preclude a finding of superior responsibility, "comes too close to the concept of strict responsibility". Further, Mucic interprets Article 28 of the ICC Statute as limiting the application of the doctrine of command responsibility to "commanders or those effectively acting as commanders". He submits that "the law relating to de jure/de facto command responsibility is far from certain" and that the Appeals Chamber should address the issue.
187. The Prosecution argues that Mucic has failed to adduce authorities to support his argument that the Trial Chamber erred in finding Mucic to be a de facto superior. In its view, the finding of the de facto responsibility does not amount to a form of strict liability, and de facto authority does not have to possess certain features of de jure authority. It is submitted that Mucic has not identified any legal basis for alleging that the Trial Chamber has erred in holding that the doctrine of command responsibility applies to civilian superiors.
188. The Trial Chamber found:
[...] a position of command is indeed a necessary pre-condition for the imposition of command responsibility. However, this statement must be qualified by the recognition that the existence of such a position cannot be determined by reference to formal status alone. Instead, the factor that determines liability for this type of criminal responsibility is the actual possession, or non-possession, of powers of control over the actions of subordinates. Accordingly, formal designation as a commander should not be considered to be a necessary prerequisite for command responsibility to attach, as such responsibility may be imposed by virtue of a person's de facto, as well as de jure, position as a commander.
189. It is necessary to consider first the notion of command or superior authority within the meaning of Article 7(3) of the Statute before examining the specific issue of de facto authority. Article 87(3) of Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions provides:
The High Contracting Parties and Parties to the conflict shall require any commander who is aware that subordinates or other persons under his control are going to commit or have committed a breach of the Conventions or of his Protocol, to initiate such steps as are necessary to prevent such violations of the Conventions or this Protocol, and, where appropriate, to initiate disciplinary or penal action against violators thereof.
190. The Blaskic Judgement, referring to the Trial Judgement and to Additional Protocol I, construed control in terms of the material ability of a commander to punish:
What counts is his material ability, which instead of issuing orders or taking disciplinary action may entail, for instance, submitting reports to the competent authorities in order for proper measures to be taken.
191. In respect of the meaning of a commander or superior as laid down in Article 7(3) of the Statute, the Appeals Chamber held in Aleksovski:
Article 7(3) provides the legal criteria for command responsibility, thus giving the word "commander" a juridical meaning, in that the provision becomes applicable only where a superior with the required mental element failed to exercise his powers to prevent subordinates from committing offences or to punish them afterwards. This necessarily implies that a superior must have such powers prior to his failure to exercise them. If the facts of a case meet the criteria for the authority of a superior as laid down in Article 7(3), the legal finding would be that an accused is a superior within the meaning of that provision.
192. Under Article 7(3), a commander or superior is thus the one who possesses the power or authority in either a de jure or a de facto form to prevent a subordinate's crime or to punish the perpetrators of the crime after the crime is committed.
193. The power or authority to prevent or to punish does not solely arise from de jure authority conferred through official appointment. In many contemporary conflicts, there may be only de facto, self-proclaimed governments and therefore de facto armies and paramilitary groups subordinate thereto. Command structure, organised hastily, may well be in disorder and primitive. To enforce the law in these circumstances requires a determination of accountability not only of individual offenders but of their commanders or other superiors who were, based on evidence, in control of them without, however, a formal commission or appointment. A tribunal could find itself powerless to enforce humanitarian law against de facto superiors if it only accepted as proof of command authority a formal letter of authority, despite the fact that the superiors acted at the relevant time with all the powers that would attach to an officially appointed superior or commander.
194. In relation to Mucic's responsibility, the Trial Chamber held:
[...] whereas formal appointment is an important aspect of the exercise of command authority or superior authority, the actual exercise of authority in the absence of a formal appointment is sufficient for the purpose of incurring criminal responsibility. Accordingly, the factor critical to the exercise of command responsibility is the actual possession, or non-possession, of powers of control over the actions of the subordinates.
195. The Trial Chamber, prior to making this statement in relation to the case of Mucic, had already considered the origin and meaning of de facto authority with reference to existing practice. Based on an analysis of World War II jurisprudence, the Trial Chamber also concluded that the principle of superior responsibility reflected in Article 7(3) of the Statute encompasses political leaders and other civilian superiors in positions of authority. The Appeals Chamber finds no reason to disagree with the Trial Chamber's analysis of this jurisprudence. The principle that military and other superiors may be held criminally responsible for the acts of their subordinates is well-established in conventional and customary law. The standard of control reflected in Article 87(3) of Additional Protocol I may be considered as customary in nature. In relying upon the wording of Articles 86 and 87 of Additional Protocol I to conclude that "it is clear that the term 'superior' is sufficiently broad to encompass a position of authority based on the existence of de facto powers of control", the Trial Chamber properly considered the issue in finding the applicable law.
196. "Command", a term which does not seem to present particular controversy in interpretation, normally means powers that attach to a military superior, whilst the term "control", which has a wider meaning, may encompass powers wielded by civilian leaders. In this respect, the Appeals Chamber does not consider that the rule is controversial that civilian leaders may incur responsibility in relation to acts committed by their subordinates or other persons under their effective control. Effective control has been accepted, including in the jurisprudence of the Tribunal, as a standard for the purposes of determining superior responsibility. The Blaîkic Trial Chamber for instance endorsed the finding of the Trial Judgement to this effect. The showing of effective control is required in cases involving both de jure and de facto superiors. This standard has more recently been reaffirmed in the ICC Statute, Article 28 of which reads in relevant parts:
In addition to other grounds of criminal responsibility under this Statute for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court;
- (a) A military commander or person effectively acting as a military commander shall be criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed by forces under his or her effective command and control, or effective authority and control as the case may be, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly over such forces, [...]
- (b) With respect to superior and subordinate relationships not described in paragraph (a), a superior shall be criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed by subordinates under his or her effective authority and control, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly over such subordinates [...]
197. In determining questions of responsibility it is necessary to look to effective exercise of power or control and not to formal titles. This would equally apply in the context of criminal responsibility. In general, the possession of de jure power in itself may not suffice for the finding of command responsibility if it does not manifest in effective control, although a court may presume that possession of such power prima facie results in effective control unless proof to the contrary is produced. The Appeals Chamber considers that the ability to exercise effective control is necessary for the establishment of de facto command or superior responsibility and thus agrees with the Trial Chamber that the absence of formal appointment is not fatal to a finding of criminal responsibility, provided certain conditions are met. Mucic's argument that de facto status must be equivalent to de jure status for the purposes of superior responsibility is misplaced. Although the degree of control wielded by a de jure or de facto superior may take different forms, a de facto superior must be found to wield substantially similar powers of control over subordinates to be held criminally responsible for their acts. The Appeals Chamber therefore agrees with the Trial Chamber's conclusion:
While it is, therefore, the Trial Chamber's conclusion that a superior, whether military or civilian, may be held liable under the principle of superior responsibility on the basis of his de facto position of authority, the fundamental considerations underlying the imposition of such responsibility must be borne in mind. The doctrine of command responsibility is ultimately predicated upon the power of the superior to control the acts of his subordinates. A duty is placed upon the superior to exercise this power so as to prevent and repress the crimes committed by his subordinates, and a failure by him to do so in a diligent manner is sanctioned by the imposition of individual criminal responsibility in accordance with the doctrine. It follows that there is a threshold at which persons cease to possess the necessary powers of control over the actual perpetratorsof offences and, accordingly, cannot properly be considered their "superiors" within the meaning of Article 7(3) of the Statute. While the Trial Chamber must at all times be alive to the realities of any given situation and be prepared to pierce such veils of formalism that may shield those individuals carrying the greatest responsibility for heinous acts, great care must be taken lest an injustice be committed in holding individuals responsible for the acts of others in situations where the link of control is absent or too remote.
Accordingly, it is the Trial Chamber's view that, in order for the principle of superior responsibility to be applicable, it is necessary that the superior have effective control over the persons committing the underlying violations of international humanitarian law, in the sense of having the material ability to prevent and punish the commission of these offences. With the caveat that such authority can have a de facto as well as a de jure character, the Trial Chamber accordingly shares the view expressed by the International Law Commission that the doctrine of superior responsibility extends to civilian superiors only to the extent that they exercise a degree of control over their subordinates which is similar to that of military commanders.
198. As long as a superior has effective control over subordinates, to the extent that he can prevent them from committing crimes or punish them after they committed the crimes, he would be held responsible for the commission of the crimes if he failed to exercise such abilities of control.
199. The remainder of Mucic's ground of appeal concerns the sufficiency of the evidence regarding the existence of his de facto authority. This poses a question of fact, which the Appeals Chamber will now consider.
2. The Trial Chamber's Factual Findings 200. At the appeal hearing, Mucic argued that the Trial Chamber's reliance on the evidence cited in the Trial Judgement in support of the finding that he exercised superior authority was unreasonable. He made a number of arguments which were ultimately directed to his central contention that the evidence was insufficient to support a conclusion that he was a de facto commander for the entire period of time set forth in the Indictment. His submissions particularly emphasised that he had no authority in the camp during the months of May, June, or July of 1992.
201. At the hearing, the Prosecution submitted that it was open to a reasonable Trial Chamber to conclude from the evidence as a whole that Mucic was commander of the Celebici camp throughout the period referred to in the Indictment. It was argued that Mucic has not shown that the Trial Chamber has been unreasonable in its evaluation of evidence, and that it is a reasonable inference of the Trial Chamber that Mucic wielded a degree of control and authority in the Celebici camp, drawn from the fact that he had the ability to assist detainees.
3. Discussion 202. In respect of a factual error alleged on appeal, the Tadic Appeal Judgement provides the test that:
It is only where the evidence relied on by the Trial Chamber could not reasonably have been accepted by any reasonable person that the Appeals Chamber can substitute its own finding for that of the Trial Chamber.
203. In the appeal of Furund'ija, the Appeals Chamber declined to conduct an independent assessment of the evidence admitted at trial, as requested by the appellants, understood as a request for de novo review, and took the view that "[t]his Chamber does not operate as a second Trial Chamber."
204. In paragraphs 737-767 of the Trial Judgement, a thorough analysis of evidence led the Trial Chamber to conclude that Mucic "had all the powers of a commander" in the camp. The conclusion was also based on Mucic's own admission that he had "necessary disciplinary powers". Mucic, who disputes this conclusion on appeal, must persuade the Appeals Chamber that the conclusion is one which could not have reasonably been made by a reasonable tribunal of fact, so that a miscarriage of justice has occurred.
205. The Appeals Chamber notes that Mucic argued at trial to the effect that, in the absence of any document formally appointing him to the position of commander or warden of the camp, it was not shown what authority he had over the camp personnel. On appeal, he repeats this argument, and reiterates some of his objections made at trial in respect of the Prosecution evidence which was accepted by the Trial Chamber as showing that he had de facto authority in the camp in the period alleged in the Indictment.
206. Having concluded that "the actual exercise of authority in the absence of a formal appointment is sufficient for the purpose of incurring criminal responsibility" provided that the de facto superior exercises actual powers of control, the Trial Chamber considered the argument of Mucic that he had no "formal authority". It looked at the following factors to establish that Mucic had de facto authority: Mucic's acknowledgement of his having authority over the Celebici camp since 27 July 1992, the submission in the defence closing brief that Mucic used his "limited" authority to prevent crimes and to order that the detainees not be mistreated and that the offenders tried to conceal offences from him, the defence statement that when Mucic was at the camp, there was "far greater" discipline than when he was absent, the evidence that co-defendant Delic told the detainees that Mucic was commander, the evidence that he arranged for the transfer of detainees, his classifying of detainees for the purpose of continued detention or release, his control of guards, and the evidence that he had the authority to release prisoners. At trial, the Trial Chamber accepted this body of evidence. The Appeals Chamber considers that it has not been shown that the Trial Chamber erred in accepting the evidence which led to the finding that Mucic was commander of the camp and as such exercised command responsibility.
207. Mucic argues that the Trial Chamber failed to explain on what date he became commander of the camp. The Trial Chamber found:
208. The Appeals Chamber can see no reason why the Trial Chamber's conclusion that it was unnecessary to make a finding as to the exact date of his appointment — as opposed to his status during the relevant period — was unreasonable.
209. Mucic claims that he had no authority of whatever nature during the months of May, June and July of 1992. The Indictment defined the relevant period in which Mucic was commander of the camp to be "from approximately May 1992 to November 1992". The offences of subordinates upon which the relevant charges against Mucic were based took place during that period. The Appeals Chamber notes that the Trial Judgement considered the objection of Mucic to the evidence which was adduced to show that he was present in the camp in May 1992. The objection was made through the presentation of defence evidence, which was rejected by the Trial Chamber as being inconclusive. On this point, the Appeals Chamber observes that Mucic did not challenge the testimony of certain witnesses which was adduced to show that Mucic was not only present in the camp but in a position of authority in the months of May, June and July of 1992. Reference is made to the evidence given by Witness D, who was a member of the Military Investigative Commission in the camp and worked closely with Mucic in the classification of the detainees. The Trial Chamber was "completely satisfied" with this evidence. The witness testified that Mucic was present at the meeting of the Military Investigative Commission held in early June 1992 to discuss the classification and continued detention or release of the detainees. It is also noteworthy that, in relation to a finding in the case of Delic, it was found that the Military Investigative Commission only conducted interviews with detainees after informing Mucic, or Delic when the former was absent, and that only Mucic and Delic had access to the files of the Commission. Further, Mucic conceded in his interview with the Prosecution that he went to the camp as early as 20 May 1992. Moreover, Grozdana ]ecez, a former detainee at the camp, was interrogated by Mucic in late May or early June 1992. The Appeals Chamber is satisfied that the evidence relied upon by the Trial Chamber constitutes adequate support for its findings.
210. The Appeals Chamber is satisfied that it was open to the Trial Chamber to find that from "before the end of May 1992" Mucic was exercising de facto authority over the camp and its personnel.
211. In addition, Mucic submitted:
- (i) The Trial Chamber failed to consider the causal implications of the acquittal of the co-defendant Delalic from whom the Prosecution alleged Mucic obtained his necessary authority; and (ii) The Trial Chamber gave wrongful and/or undue weight to the acts of benefice [sic] attributed to Mucic at, inter alia, paragraph 1247 of the Trial Judgement, to found command responsibility, instead of treating them as acts of compassion coupled with the strength of personal character which constitute some other species of authority.
212. The first argument appears to be based on an assumption that Mucic's authority rested in some formal way on that of Delalic. This argument has no merit. It is clear that the Trial Chamber found that, regardless of the way Mucic was appointed, he in fact exercised de facto authority, irrespective of Delalic's role in relation to the camp.
213. The second point lacks merit in that the acts related to in paragraph 1247 of the Trial Judgement were considered by the Trial Chamber for the purpose of sentencing, rather than conviction; and that acts beneficial to detainees done by Mucic referred to by the Trial Chamber may reasonably be regarded as strengthening its view that Mucic was in a position of authority to effect "greater discipline" in the camp than when he was absent. Although potentially compassionate in nature, these acts are nevertheless evidence of the powers which Mucic exercised and thus of his authority.
4. Conclusion 214. For the foregoing reasons, the Appeals Chamber dismisses this ground of appeal and upholds the finding of the Trial Chamber that Mucic was the de facto commander of the Celebici camp during the relevant period indicated in the Indictment.
B. The Prosecution Grounds of Appeal
215. The Prosecution has filed three grounds of appeal relating to command responsibility.
1. Mental Element — "Knew or had Reason to Know"
216. The Prosecution's first ground of appeal is that the Trial Chamber has erred in law by its interpretation of the standard of "knew or had reason to know" as laid down in Article 7(3) of the Statute.
217. Delalic argues that the Trial Chamber's interpretation of "had reason to know" is obiter dicta and does not affect the finding concerning Delalic that he never had a superior-subordinate relationship with Delic, Mucic, and Land'o. He submits that the Trial Chamber did not determine the matter of the mental element of command responsibility in terms of customary law. The ground should therefore not be considered. He argues that if the Appeals Chamber proceeds to deal with this ground, Delalic will agree with the interpretation given by the Trial Chamber in this regard.
218. Acknowledging Delalic's submission, the Prosecution asks the Appeals Chamber to deal with the mental element as a matter of general significance to the Tribunal's jurisprudence. The Trial Chamber, it contends, determined the matter in terms of the customary law applicable at the time of the offences. The Prosecution does not argue for a mental standard based on strict liability.
219. Delic agrees with the Prosecution's position that Articles 86 and 87 of Additional Protocol I reflect customary law as established through the post Second World War cases. A commander has a duty to be informed, but not every failure in this duty gives rise to command responsibility.
220. The issues raised by this ground of appeal of the Prosecution include:
- (i) whether in international law, the duty of a superior to control his subordinates includes a duty to be apprised of their action, i.e. a duty to know of their action and whether neglect of such duty will always result in criminal liability;
- (ii) whether the standard of "had reason to know" means either the commander had information indicating that subordinates were about to commit or had committed offences or he did not have this information due to dereliction of his duty; and
- (iii) whether international law acknowledges any distinction between military and civil leaders in relation to the duty to be informed.
221. The Appeals Chamber takes note of the fact that this ground of appeal is raised by the Prosecution for its general importance to the "jurisprudence of the Tribunal". Considering that this ground concerns an important element of command responsibility, that the Prosecution alleges an error on the part of the Trial Chamber in respect of a finding as to the applicable law, that the parties have made extensive submissions on it, and that it is indeed an issue of general importance to the proceedings before the Tribunal, the Appeals Chamber will consider it by reference to Article 7(3) of the Statute and customary law at the time of the offences alleged in the Indictment.
(i) The Mental Element Articulated by the Statute 222. Article 7(3) of the Statute provides that a superior may incur criminal responsibility for criminal acts of subordinates "if he knew or had reason to know that the subordinate was about to commit such acts or had done so" but fails to prevent such acts or punish those subordinates.
223. The Trial Chamber held that a superior:
[...] may possess the mens rea for command responsibility where: (1) he had actual knowledge, established through direct or circumstantial evidence, that his subordinates were committing or about to commit crimes referred to under Articles 2 through 5 of the Statute, or (2) where he had in his possession information of a nature, which at the least, would put him on notice of the risk of such offences by indicating the need for additional investigation in order to ascertain whether such crimes were committed or were about to be committed by his subordinates.
224. The Prosecution position is essentially that the reference to "had reason to know" in Article 7(3) of the Statute, refers to two possible situations. First, a superior had information which put him on notice or which suggested to him that subordinates were about to commit or had committed crimes. Secondly, a superior lacked such information as a result of a serious dereliction of his duty to obtain the information within his reasonable access. As acknowledged by the Prosecution, only the second situation is not encompassed by the Trial Chamber's findings. Delalic argues to the effect that the Trial Chamber was correct in its statement of the law in this regard, and that the second situation envisaged by the Prosecution was in effect an argument based on strict liability. Delic agrees with the Prosecution's assessment of customary law that "the commander has an international duty to be informed", but argues that the Statute was designed by the UN Security Council in such a way that the jurisdiction of the Tribunal was limited to cases where the commander had actual knowledge or such knowledge that it gave him reason to know of subordinate offences, which was a rule inconsistent with customary law laid down in the military trials conducted after the Second World War.
225. The literal meaning of Article 7(3) is not difficult to ascertain. A commander may be held criminally liable in respect of the acts of his subordinates in violation of Articles 2 to 5 of the Statute. Both the subordinates and the commander are individually responsible in relation to the impugned acts. The commander would be tried for failure to act in respect of the offences of his subordinates in the perpetration of which he did not directly participate.
226. Article 7(3) of the Statute is concerned with superior liability arising from failure to act in spite of knowledge. Neglect of a duty to acquire such knowledge, however, does not feature in the provision as a separate offence, and a superior is not therefore liable under the provision for such failures but only for failing to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or to punish. The Appeals Chamber takes it that the Prosecution seeks a finding that "reason to know" exists on the part of a commander if the latter is seriously negligent in his duty to obtain the relevant information. The point here should not be that knowledge may be presumed if a person fails in his duty to obtain the relevant information of a crime, but that it may be presumed if he had the means to obtain the knowledge but deliberately refrained from doing so. The Prosecution's argument that a breach of the duty of a superior to remain constantly informed of his subordinates actions will necessarily result in criminal liability comes close to the imposition of criminal liability on a strict or negligence basis. It is however noted that although a commander's failure to remain apprised of his subordinates' action, or to set up a monitoring system may constitute a neglect of duty which results in liability within the military disciplinary framework, it will not necessarily result in criminal liability.
227. As the Tribunal is charged with the application of customary law, the Appeals Chamber will briefly consider the case-law in relation to whether there is a duty in customary law to know of all subordinate activity, breach of which will give rise to criminal responsibility in the context of command or superior responsibility.
(ii) Duty to Know In Customary Law 228. In the Yamashita case, the United States Military Commission found that:
Clearly, assignment to command military troops is accompanied by broad authority and heavy responsibility [...]. It is absurd, however, to consider a commander a murderer or rapist because one of his soldiers commits a murder or a rape. Nevertheless, where murder and rape and vicious, revengeful actions are widespread offences, and there is no effective attempt by a commander to discover and control the criminal acts, such a commander may be held responsible, even criminally liable, for the lawless acts of his troops, depending upon their nature and the circumstances surrounding them.
The Military Commission concluded that proof of widespread offences, and secondly of the failure of the commander to act in spite of the offences, may give rise to liability. The second factor suggests that the commander needs to discover and control. But it is the first factor that is of primary importance, in that it gives the commander a reason or a basis to discover the scope of the offences. In the Yamashita case, the fact stood out that the atrocities took place between 9 October 1944 to 3 September 1945, during which General Yamashita was the commander-in-chief of the 14th Army Group including the Military Police. This length of time begs the question as to how the commander and his staff could be ignorant of large-scale atrocities spreading over this long period. The statement of the commission implied that it had found that the circumstances demonstrated that he had enough notice of the atrocities to require him to proceed to investigate further and control the offences. The fact that widespread offences were committed over a long period of time should have put him on notice that crimes were being or had been committed by his subordinates.
229. On the same case, the United Nations War Crimes Commission commented:
[...] the crimes which were shown to have been committed by Yamashita's troops were so widespread, both in space and in time, that they could be regarded as providing either prima facie evidence that the accused knew of their perpetration, or evidence that he must have failed to fulfill a duty to discover the standard of conduct of his troops.
This last sentence deserves attention. However, having considered several cases decided by other military tribunals, it went on to qualify the above statement:
Short of maintaining that a Commander has a duty to discover the state of discipline prevailing among his troops, Courts dealing with cases such as those at present under discussion may in suitable instances have regarded means of knowledge as being the same as knowledge itself.
In summary, it pointedly stated that "the law on this point awaits further elucidation and consolidation". Contrary to the Trial Chamber's conclusion, other cases discussed in the Judgement do not show a consistent trend in the decisions that emerged out of the military trials conducted after the Second World War. The citation from the Judgement in the case of United States v Wilhelm List ("Hostage case") indicates that List failed to acquire "supplementary reports to apprise him of all the pertinent facts". The tribunal in the case found that if a commander of occupied territory "fails to require and obtain complete information" he is guilty of a dereliction of his duty. List was found to be charged with notice of the relevant crimes because of reports which had been made to him. Therefore, List had in his possession information that should have prompted him to investigate further the situation under his command. The Trial Chamber also quoted from the Pohl case. The phrase quoted is also meant to state a different point than that suggested by the Trial Chamber. In that case, the accused Mummenthey pleaded ignorance of fact in respect of certain aspects of the running of his business which employed concentration camp prisoners. Having refuted this plea by invoking evidence showing that the accused knew fully of those aspects, the tribunal stated:
Mummenthey's assertions that he did not know what was happening in the labor camps and enterprises under his jurisdiction does not exonerate him. It was his duty to know.
That statement, when read in the context of that part of the judgement, means that the accused was under a duty arising from his position as an SS officer and business manager in charge of a war-time enterprise to know what was happening in his business, including the conditions of the labour force who worked in that business. Any suggestion that the tribunal used that statement to express that the accused had a duty under international law to know would be obiter in light of the finding that he had knowledge. In the Roechling case, which was also referred to by the Trial Chamber, the court concluded that Roechling had a "duty to keep himself informed about the treatment of the deportees." However, it also noted that "Roechling [...] had repeated opportunities during the inspection of his concerns to ascertain the fate meted out to his personnel, since he could not fail to notice the prisoner's uniform on those occasions". This was information which would put him on notice. It is to be noted that the courts which referred to the existence of a "duty to know" at the same time found that the accused were put on notice of subordinates' acts.
230. Further, the Field Manual of the US Department of Army 1956 (No. 27-10, Law of Land Warfare) provides:
The commander is. . . responsible, if he had actual knowledge, or should have had knowledge, through reports received by him or through other means, that troops or other persons subject to his control are about to commit or have committed a war crime and he fails to use the means at his disposal to insure compliance with the law of war.
The italicised clause is clear that the commander should be presumed to have had knowledge if he had reports or other means of communication; in other words, he had already information as contained in reports or through other means, which put him on notice. On the basis of this analysis, the Appeals Chamber must conclude, in the same way as did the United Nations War Crimes Commission, that the then customary law did not impose in the criminal context a general duty to know upon commanders or superiors, breach of which would be sufficient to render him responsible for subordinates' crimes.
231. The anticipated elucidation and consolidation of the law on the question as to whether there was a duty under customary law for the commander to obtain the necessary information came with Additional Protocol I. Article 86(2) of the protocol provides:
The fact that a breach of the Conventions or of this Protocol was committed by a subordinate does not absolve his superiors from penal or disciplinary responsibility, as the case may be, if they knew, or had information which should have enabled them to conclude in the circumstances at the time, that he was committing or was going to commit such a breach and if they did not take all feasible measures within their power to prevent or repress the breach.
232. The phrase, "had reason to know", is not as clear in meaning as that of "had information enabling them to conclude", although it may be taken as effectively having a similar meaning. The latter standard is more explicit, and its rationale is plain: failure to conclude, or conduct additional inquiry, in spite of alarming information constitutes knowledge of subordinate offences. Failure to act when required to act with such knowledge is the basis for attributing liability in this category of case.
233. The phrase "had information", as used in Article 86(2) of Additional Protocol I, presents little difficulty for interpretation. It means that, at the critical time, the commander had in his possession such information that should have put him on notice of the fact that an unlawful act was being, or about to be, committed by a subordinate. As observed by the Trial Chamber, the apparent discrepancy between the French version, which reads "des informations leur permettant de conclure" (literally: information enabling them to conclude), and the English version of Article 86(2) does not undermine this interpretation. This is a reference to information, which, if at hand, would oblige the commander to obtain more information (i.e. conduct further inquiry), and he therefore "had reason to know".
234. As noted by the Trial Chamber, the formulation of the principle of superior responsibility in the ILC Draft Code is very similar to that in Article 7(3) of the Statute. Further, as the ILC comments on the draft articles drew from existing practice, they deserve close attention. The ILC comments on the mens rea for command responsibility run as follows:
Article 6 provides two criteria for determining whether a superior is to be held criminally responsible for the wrongful conduct of a subordinate. First, a superior must have known or had reason to know in the circumstances at the time that a subordinate was committing or was going to commit a crime. This criterion indicates that a superior may have the mens rea required to incur criminal responsibility in two different situations. In the first situation, a superior has actual knowledge that his subordinate is committing or is about to commit a crime. . . In the second situation, he has sufficient relevant information to enable him to conclude under the circumstances at the time that his subordinates are committing or are about to commit a crime. The ILC further explains that "[t]he phrase 'had reason to know' is taken from the statutes of the ad hoc tribunals and should be understood as having the same meaning as the phrase 'had information enabling them to conclude' which is used in the Additional Protocol I. The Commission decided to use the former phrase to ensure an objective rather than a subjective interpretation of this element of the first criterion."
235. The consistency in the language used by Article 86(2) of Additional Protocol I, and the ILC Report and the attendant commentary, is evidence of a consensus as to the standard of the mens rea of command responsibility. If "had reason to know" is interpreted to mean that a commander has a duty to inquire further, on the basis of information of a general nature he has in hand, there is no material difference between the standard of Article 86(2) of Additional Protocol I and the standard of "should have known" as upheld by certain cases decided after the Second World War.
236. After surveying customary law and especially the drafting history of Article 86 of Additional Protocol I, the Trial Chamber concluded that:
An interpretation of the terms of this provision [Article 86 of Additional Protocol I] in accordance with their ordinary meaning thus leads to the conclusion, confirmed by the travaux preparatoires, that a superior can be held criminally responsible only if some specific information was in fact available to him which would provide notice of offences committed by his subordinates. This information need not be such that it by itself was sufficient to compel the conclusion of the existence of such crimes. It is sufficient that the superior was put on further inquiry by the information, or, in other words, that it indicated the need for additional investigation in order to ascertain whether offences were being committed or about to be committed by his subordinates. This standard, which must be considered to reflect the position of customary law at the time of the offences alleged in the Indictment, is accordingly controlling for the construction of the mens rea standard established in Article 7(3). The Trial Chamber thus makes no finding as to the present content of customary law on this point.
237. The Prosecution contends that the Trial Chamber relied improperly upon reference to the object and purpose of Additional Protocol I. The ordinary meaning of the language of Article 86(2) regarding the knowledge element of command responsibility is clear. Though adding little to the interpretation of the language of the provision, the context of the provision as provided by Additional Protocol I simply confirms an interpretation based on the natural meaning of its provisions. Article 87 requires parties to a conflict to impose certain duties on commanders, including the duty in Article 87(3) to "initiate disciplinary or penal action" against subordinates or other persons under their control who have committed a breach of the Geneva Conventions or of the Protocol. That duty is limited by the terms of Article 87(3) to circumstances where the commander "is aware" that his subordinates are going to commit or have committed such breaches. Article 87 therefore interprets Article 86(2) as far as the duties of the commander or superior are concerned, but the criminal offence based on command responsibility is defined in Article 86(2) only.
238. Contrary to the Prosecution's submission, the Trial Chamber did not hold that a superior needs to have information on subordinate offences in his actual possession for the purpose of ascribing criminal liability under the principle of command responsibility. A showing that a superior had some general information in his possession, which would put him on notice of possible unlawful acts by his subordinates would be sufficient to prove that he "had reason to know". The ICRC Commentary (Additional Protocol I) refers to "reports addressed to (the superior), [...] the tactical situation, the level of training and instruction of subordinate officers and their troops, and their character traits" as potentially constituting the information referred to in Article 86(2) of Additional Protocol I. As to the form of the information available to him, it may be written or oral, and does not need to have the form of specific reports submitted pursuant to a monitoring system. This information does not need to provide specific information about unlawful acts committed or about to be committed. For instance, a military commander who has received information that some of the soldiers under his command have a violent or unstable character, or have been drinking prior to being sent on a mission, may be considered as having the required knowledge.
239. Finally, the relevant information only needs to have been provided or available to the superior, or in the Trial Chamber's words, "in the possession of". It is not required that he actually acquainted himself with the information. In the Appeals Chamber's view, an assessment of the mental element required by Article 7(3) of the Statute should be conducted in the specific circumstances of each case, taking into account the specific situation of the superior concerned at the time in question. Thus, as correctly held by the Trial Chamber,341 as the element of knowledge has to be proved in this type of cases, command responsibility is not a form of strict liability. A superior may only be held liable for the acts of his subordinates if it is shown that he "knew or had reason to know" about them. The Appeals Chamber would not describe superior responsibility as a vicarious liability doctrine, insofar as vicarious liability may suggest a form of strict imputed liability.
(iii) Civilian Superiors 240. The Prosecution submits that civilian superiors are under the same duty to know as military commanders. If, as found by the Appeals Chamber, there is no such "duty" to know in customary law as far as military commanders are concerned, this submission lacks the necessary premise. Civilian superiors undoubtedly bear responsibility for subordinate offences under certain conditions, but whether their responsibility contains identical elements to that of military commanders is not clear in customary law. As the Trial Chamber made a factual determination that Delalic was not in a position of superior authority over the Celebici camp in any capacity, there is no need for the Appeals Chamber to resolve this question.
(iv) Conclusion 241. For the foregoing reasons, this ground of appeal is dismissed. The Appeals Chamber upholds the interpretation given by the Trial Chamber to the standard "had reason to know", that is, a superior will be criminally responsible through the principles of superior responsibility only if information was available to him which would have put him on notice of offences committed by subordinates. This is consistent with the customary law standard of mens rea as existing at the time of the offences charged in the Indictment.
2. Whether Delalic Exercised Superior Responsibility
242. The Prosecution's second ground of appeal alleges an error of law in the Trial Chamber's interpretation of the nature of the superior-subordinate relationship which must be established to prove liability under Article 7(3) of the Statute. The Prosecution contends that the Trial Chamber wrongly "held that the doctrine of superior responsibility requires the perpetrator to be part of a subordinate unit in a direct chain of command under the superior." This legal error, it is said, led to the erroneous finding that Delalic did not exercise superior responsibility over the Celebici camp and thus was not responsible for the offences of the camp staff.
243. The Prosecution argues that, contrary to the finding of the Trial Chamber, the doctrine of command responsibility does not require the existence of a direct chain of command under the superior, and that other forms of de jure and de facto control, including forms of influence, may suffice for ascribing liability under the doctrine. The criterion for superior responsibility is actual control, which entails the ability to prevent violations, rather than direct subordination. Delalic was in a special position in that the facts found by the Trial Chamber established that he "act[ed] on behalf of the War Presidency, he act[ed] on behalf of the supreme command in Sarajevo, he act[ed] on behalf of the investigating commission with respect to prisoners, he issued orders with respect to the functioning of the Celebici prison". It concludes that, as the Trial Chamber found him to have knowledge of the ill-treatment in the camp, and yet failed to prevent or punish the violations, the Appeals Chamber may substitute verdicts of guilty on those counts under which command responsibility was charged.
244. The Prosecution submits that, if the Appeals Chamber applies the correct test to all of the facts found by the Trial Chamber, the only conclusion it could reach is that Delalic was a superior and was guilty of the crimes charged, which would permit it to reverse the verdict of acquittal. If the Appeals Chamber finds that the facts found by the Trial Chamber do not permit it to reach that conclusion, it should remit the case to a newly constituted Trial Chamber to determine the relevant counts.
245. In the alternative, the Prosecution requests leave to be granted to present additional evidence which had been "wrongly excluded by the Trial Chamber", being evidence that it sought to call in rebuttal. The documentary evidence which had not been admitted was annexed to the Prosecution Brief. The submission in relation to admission of wrongfully excluded evidence as expressed in the Prosecution Brief initially suggested that this course was proposed as an alternative remedy which would fall for consideration only should the Appeals Chamber accept the argument that the Trial Chamber made an error of law in its statement of the nature of the superior-subordinate relationship. However, it was also stated that the Prosecution alleges that the Trial Chamber's exclusion of the evidence constituted a distinct error of law, and in subsequent written and oral submissions it was made apparent that, although not expressed as a separate ground of appeal, the submissions as to erroneous exclusion of evidence constitute an independent basis for challenging the Trial Chamber's finding that Delalic was not a superior. As Delalic in fact answered this Prosecution argument, no prejudice will result if the Appeals Chamber deals with this alternative submission as an independent allegation of error of law.
246. Delalic contends that in any event the evidence of the position of Delalic in relation to the Celebici camp demonstrates that he had no superior authority there, and that the Prosecution's theory of "influence responsibility" is not supported by customary law. He argues that a revision of the judgement by the Appeals Chamber can only concern errors of law, and that, where there is a mix of factual and legal errors, the appropriate remedy is that a new trial be ordered. Delalic submits that the Trial Chamber was correct in refusing the to allow the proposed Prosecution witnesses to testify as rebuttal witnesses and in rejecting the Prosecution motion to re-open the proceedings.
247. The Prosecution's argument relating to the Trial Chamber's findings as to the nature of the superior-subordinate relationship is considered first before turning to the second argument relating to the exclusion of evidence which was sought to be admitted as rebuttal or fresh evidence.
(i) The Superior-Subordinate Relationship in the Doctrine of Command Responsibility 248. The Prosecution interprets the Trial Chamber to have held that, in cases involving command or superior responsibility, the perpetrator must be "part of a subordinate unit in a direct chain of command under the superior" for the superior to be held responsible. The Prosecution submissions do not refer to any specific express statement of the Trial Chamber to this effect but appear to consider that this was the overall effect of the Trial Chamber's findings. The Prosecution first refers to, and apparently accepts, the finding of the Trial Chamber that:
[...] in order for the principle of superior responsibility to be applicable, it is necessary that the superior have effective control over the persons committing the underlying violations of international humanitarian law, in the sense of having the material ability to prevent and punish the commission of these offences [...] such authority can have a de facto or de jure character.
249. The Prosecution then refers to certain subsequent conclusions of the Trial Chamber which it apparently regards as supporting its interpretation that the Trial Chamber held that the doctrine of superior responsibility requires the perpetrator to be part of a subordinate unit in a direct chain of command under the superior. First, the Prosecution refers to the Trial Chamber's statement that, in the case of the exercise of de facto authority, it must be
[...] accompanied by the trappings of the exercise of de jure authority. By this, the Trial Chamber means that the perpetrator of the underlying offence must be the subordinate of the person of higher rank and under his direct or indirect control.
The section of the judgement cited and relied upon in the Prosecution Brief, however, omits the italicised portion of the passage. This qualification expressly conveys the Trial Chamber's view that the relationship of subordination required by the doctrine of command responsibility may be direct or indirect.
250. The Trial Chamber also referred to the ICRC Commentary (Additional Protocols), where it is stated that the superior-subordinate relationship should be seen "in terms of a hierarchy encompassing the concept of control". Noting that Article 87 of Additional Protocol I establishes that the duty of a military commander to prevent violations of the Geneva Conventions extends not only to his subordinates but also to "other persons under his control", the Trial Chamber stated that:
This type of superior-subordinate relationship is described in the Commentary to the Additional Protocols by reference to the concept of "indirect subordination", in contrast to the link of "direct subordination" which is said to relate the tactical commander to his troops.
251. Two points are clear from the Trial Chamber's consideration of the issue. First, the Trial Chamber found that a de facto position of authority suffices for the purpose of ascribing command responsibility. Secondly, it found that the superior-subordinate relationship is based on the notion of control within a hierarchy and that this control can be exercised in a direct or indirect manner, with the result that the superior-subordinate relationship itself may be both direct and indirect. Neither these findings, nor anything else expressed within the Trial Judgement, demonstrates that the Trial Chamber considered that, for the necessary superior-subordinate relationship to exist, the perpetrator must be in a direct chain of command under the superior.
252. Examining the actual findings of the Trial Chamber on the issue, it is therefore far from apparent that it found that the doctrine of superior responsibility requires the perpetrator to be part of a subordinate unit in a direct chain of command under the superior; nor is such a result a necessary implication of its findings. This seems to have been implicitly recognised by the Prosecution in its oral submissions on this ground of appeal at the hearing. The Appeals Chamber regards the Trial Chamber as having recognised the possibility of both indirect as well as direct relationships subordination and agrees that this may be the case, with the proviso that effective control must always be established.
253. However, the argument of the Prosecution goes further than challenging the perceived requirement of direct subordination. The key focus of the Prosecution argument appears to be the Trial Chamber's rejection of the Prosecution theory that persons who can exert "substantial influence" over a perpetrator who is not necessarily a subordinate may, by virtue of that influence, be held responsible under the principles of command responsibility. The Prosecution does not argue that anyone of influence may be held responsible in the context of superior responsibility, but that a superior encompasses someone who "may exercise a substantial degree of influence over the perpetrator or over the entity to which the perpetrator belongs."
254. The Trial Chamber understood the Prosecution at trial to be seeking "to extend the concept of the exercise of superior authority to persons over whom the accused can exert substantial influence in a given situation, who are clearly not subordinates", which is essentially the approach taken by the Prosecution on appeal. The Trial Chamber also rejected the idea, which it apparently regarded as being implicit in the Prosecution view, that a superior-subordinate relationship could exist in the absence of a subordinate:
The view of the Prosecution that a person may, in the absence of a subordinate unit through which authority is exercised, incur responsibility for the exercise of a superior authority seems to the Trial Chamber a novel proposition clearly at variance with the principle of command responsibility. The law does not know of a universal superior without a corresponding subordinate. The doctrine of command responsibility is clearly articulated and anchored on the relationship between superior and subordinate, and the responsibility of the commander for actions of members of his troops. It is a species of vicarious responsibility through which military discipline is regulated and ensured. This is why a subordinate unit of the superior or commander is a sine qua non for superior responsibility.
The Trial Chamber thus unambiguously required that the perpetrator be subordinated to the superior. While it referred to hierarchy and chain of command, it was clear that it took a wide view of these concepts:
The requirement of the existence of a "superiorsubordinate relationship" which, in the words of the Commentary to Additional Protocol I, should be seen "in terms of a hierarchy encompassing the concept of control", is particularly problematic in situations such as that of the former Yugoslavia during the period relevant to the present case — situations where previously existing formal structures have broken down and where, during an interim period, the new, possibly improvised, control and command structures may be ambiguous and ill-defined. It is the Trial Chamber's conclusion... that persons effectively in command of such more informal structures, with power to prevent and punish the crimes of persons who are in fact under their control, may under certain circumstances be held responsible for their failure to do so.
The Trial Chamber's references to concepts of subordination, hierarchy and chains of command must be read in this context, which makes it apparent that they need not be established in the sense of formal organisational structures so long as the fundamental requirement of an effective power to control the subordinate, in the sense of preventing or punishing criminal conduct, is satisfied.
255. It is clear that the Trial Chamber drew a considerable measure of assistance from the ICRC Commentary (Additional Protocols) on Article 86 of Additional Protocol I (which refers to the circumstances in which a superior will be responsible for breaches of the Conventions or the Protocol committed by his subordinate) in finding that actual control of the subordinate is a necessary requirement of the superior-subordinate relationship. he Commentary on Article 86 of Additional Protocol I states that:
we are concerned only with the superior who has a personal responsibility with regard to the perpetrator of the acts concerned because the latter, being his subordinate, is under his control. The direct link which must exist between the superior and the subordinate clearly follows from the duty to act laid down in paragraph 1 [of Article 86]. Furthermore only that superior is normally in the position of having information enabling him to conclude in the circumstances at the time that the subordinate has committed or is going to commit a breach. However it should not be concluded from this that the provision only concerns the commander under whose direct orders the subordinate is placed. The concept of the superior is broader and should be seen in terms of a hierarchy encompassing the concept of control.
The point which the commentary emphasises is the concept of control, which results in a relationship of superior and subordinate.
256. The Appeals Chamber agrees that this supports the Trial Chamber's interpretation of the law on this point. The concept of effective control over a subordinate - in the sense of a material ability to prevent or punish criminal conduct, however that control is exercised - is the threshold to be reached in establishing a superior-subordinate relationship for the purpose of Article 7(3) of the Statute.
257. In considering the Prosecution submissions relating to "substantial influence", it can be noted that they are not easily reconcilable with other Prosecution submissions in relation to command responsibility. The Prosecution expressly endorses the requirement that the superior have effective control over the perpetrator, but then espouses, apparently as a matter of general application, a theory that in fact "substantial influence" alone may suffice, in that "where a person's powers of influence amount to a sufficient degree of authority or control in the circumstances to put that person in a position to take preventative action, a failure to do so may result in criminal liability." This latter standard appears to envisage a lower threshold of control than an effective control threshold; indeed, it is unclear that in its natural sense the concept of "substantial influence" entails any necessary notion of control at all. Indeed, certain of the Prosecution submissions at the appeal hearing suggest that the substantial influence standard it proposes is not intended to pose any different standard than that of control in the sense of the ability to prevent or punish:
But we would submit that if there is the substantial influence, which we concede is something which has got to be determined essentially on a case-by-case basis, if this superior does have the material ability to prevent or punish, he or she should be within the confines of this doctrine of command responsibility as set forth in Article 7(3).
The Appeals Chamber will consider whether substantial influence has ever been recognised as a foundation of superior responsibility in customary law.
258. The Prosecution relied at trial and on appeal on the Hostage case in support of its position that the perpetrators of the crimes for which the superior is to be held responsible need not be subordinates, and that substantial influence is a sufficient degree of control. The Appeals Chamber concurs with the view of the Trial Chamber that the Hostage case is based on a distinction in international law between the duties of a commander for occupied territory and commanders in general. That case was concerned with a commander in occupied territory. The authority of such a commander is to a large extent territorial, and the duties applying in occupied territory are more onerous and farreaching than those applying to commanders generally. Article 42 of the Regulations Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, annexed to the Hague Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land 1907, provides:
Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.
The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.
Article 43 provides:
The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.
This clearly does not apply to commanders in general. It was not then alleged, nor could it now be, that Delalic was a commander in occupied territory, and the Trial Chamber found expressly that he was not.
259. The Prosecution emphasises however that it did not rely on the Hostage case alone. At trial, and on appeal, the Prosecution relied on the judgement in the Muto case before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. The Appeals Chamber regards the Muto case as providing limited assistance for the present purpose. Considering Muto's liability as Chief-of-Staff to General Yamashita, the Tokyo Tribunal found him to be in a position "to influence policy", and for this reason he was held responsible for atrocities by Japanese troops in the Philippines. It is difficult to ascertain from the judgement in that case whether his conviction on Count 55 for his failure to take adequate steps to ensure the observance of the laws of war reflected his participation in the making of that policy or was linked to his conviction on Count 54 which alleged that he "ordered, authorized and permitted" the commission of conventional war crimes. It is possible that the conviction on Count 54 led to that on Count 55.
260. On the other hand, the Military Tribunal V in United States v Wilhelm von Leeb et al, states clearly that:
In the absence of participation in criminal orders or their execution within a command, a Chief of Staff does not become criminally responsible for criminal acts occurring therein. He has no command authority over subordinate units. All he can do in such cases is call those matters to the attention of his commanding general. Command authority and responsibility for its exercise rest definitively upon his commander.
This suggests that a Chief-of-Staff would be found guilty only if he were involved in the execution of criminal policies by writing them into orders that were subsequently signed and issued by the commanding officer. In that case, he could be directly liable for aiding and abetting or another form of participation in the offences that resulted from the orders drafted by him. The Appeals Chamber therefore confines itself to stating that the case-law relied on by the Prosecution was not uniform on this point. No force of precedent can be ascribed to a proposition that is interpreted differently by equally competent courts.
261. The Prosecution also relies on the Hirota and Roechling cases. In the Hirota case, the Tokyo Tribunal found that Hirota, the Japanese Foreign Minister at the time of the atrocities committed by Japanese forces during the Rape of Nanking, "was derelict in his duty in not insisting before the Cabinet that immediate action be taken to put an end to the atrocities, failing any other action open to him to bring about the same result." The Trial Chamber found this to be "language indicating powers of persuasion rather than formal authority to order action to be taken".
262. In the Roechling case, a number of civilian industrialists were found guilty in respect of the illtreatment of deportees employed in forced labour, not on the basis that they ordered the treatment but because they "permitted it; and indeed supported it, and in addition, for not having done their utmost to put an end to the abuses". The Trial Chamber referred specifically to the findings in relation to von Gemmingen-Hornberg, who was the president of the Directorate and works manager of the Roechling steel plants. The tribunal at first instance had found that "the high position which he occupied in the corporation, as well as the fact that he was Herman Roechling's son-in-law, gave him certainly sufficient authority to obtain an alleviation in the treatment of these workers", and that this constituted "cause under the circumstances" to find him guilty of inhuman treatment of the workers. The reference to "sufficient authority" was interpreted by the Trial Chamber as indicating "powers of persuasion rather than formal authority", partly because of the tribunal's reference to the fact that the accused was Roechling's son-in-law, and it is upon this interpretation that the Prosecution appears to rely.
263. The Appeals Chamber does not interpret the reference to "sufficient authority" as entailing an acceptance of powers of persuasion or influence alone as being a sufficient basis on which to found command responsibility. The Roechling judgement on appeal does not refer to the fact that the accused was Roechling's son-in-law, but it emphasises his senior position as president of the Directorate and his position as works manager, "that is, as the works representative in negotiations with the authorities specially competent to deal with matters relating to labor. His sphere of competence also included contact with the Gestapo in regard to the works police". The judgements suggest that he was found to have powers of control over the conditions of the workers which, although not involving any formal ability to give orders to the works police, exceeded mere powers of persuasion or influence. Thus the Appeals Chamber considers the Trial Chamber's initial characterisation of the case as being "best construed as an example of the imposition of superior responsibility on the basis of de facto powers of control possessed by civilian industrial leaders" as being the more accurate one.
264. The Appeals Chamber also considers that the Pohl case does not support the proposition of the Prosecution that the substantial influence alone of a superior may suffice for the purpose of command responsibility. The person in question, Karl Mummenthey, an SS officer and a business manager, not only possessed "military power of command" but, more importantly in this case, "control" over the industries where mistreatment of concentration camp labourers occurred. This is apparent even from the passage of the judgement cited by the Prosecution in its Appeal Brief:
Mummenthey was a definite integral and important figure in the whole concentration camp setup, and, as an SS officer, wielded military power of command. If excesses occurred in the industries under his control he was in a position not only to know about them, but to do something.
265. In the context of relevant jurisprudence on the question, it should also be noted that the Prosecution also relies on the fact that a Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Prosecutor v Kayishema and Ruzindana, relied on these World War II authorities, and on the references to them in the judgement of the Trial Chamber in Celebici, to find that powers of influence are sufficient to impose superior responsibility. The ICTR Trial Chamber stated:
[...] having examined the Hostage and High Command cases the Chamber in Celebici concluded that they authoritatively asserted the principle that, "powers of influence not amounting to formal powers of command provide a sufficient basis for the imposition of command responsibility." This Trial Chamber concurs.
No weight can be afforded to this statement of the ICTR Trial Chamber, as it is based on a misstatement of what the Trial Chamber in Celebici actually held. The quoted statement was not a conclusion of the Trial Chamber, nor its interpretation of the Hostage and High Command cases, but the ICTR Trial Chamber's interpretation of the decision of the Tokyo Tribunal in the Muto case. The Trial Chamber in Celebici ultimately regarded any "influence" principle which may have been established by Muto case as being outweighed by other authorities which suggested that a position of command in the sense of effective control was necessary.
266. The Appeals Chamber considers, therefore, that customary law has specified a standard of effective control, although it does not define precisely the means by which the control must be exercised. It is clear, however, that substantial influence as a means of control in any sense which falls short of the possession of effective control over subordinates, which requires the possession of material abilities to prevent subordinate offences or to punish subordinate offenders, lacks sufficient support in State practice and judicial decisions. Nothing relied on by the Prosecution indicates that there is sufficient evidence of State practice or judicial authority to support a theory that substantial influence as a means of exercising command responsibility has the standing of a rule of customary law, particularly a rule by which criminal liability would be imposed.
267. The Appeals Chamber therefore finds that the Trial Chamber has applied the correct legal test in the case of Delalic. There is, therefore, no basis for any further application of that test to the Trial Chamber's findings, whether by the Appeals Chamber or by a reconstituted Trial Chamber.
268. The Prosecution's argument dealt with here is limited to the submission that it was the Trial Chamber's alleged error of law in the legal test which led it to an erroneous conclusion that Delalic did not exercise superior authority. There was no independent allegation in the Prosecution Brief that the Trial Chamber made errors of fact in its factual findings which should be overturned by the Appeals Chamber, although certain submissions at the hearing of the appeal suggest that the Prosecution submits that, even under the standard of effective control (which was in fact applied by the Trial Chamber), the Trial Chamber should have found Delalic to have exercised superior authority. However, nothing raised by the Prosecution would support a finding by the Appeals Chamber that the Trial Chamber's findings, and its ultimate conclusion from those facts that Delalic did not exercise the requisite degree of control, was so unreasonable that no reasonable tribunal of fact could have reached them.
(ii) Whether the Trial Chamber erred in excluding rebuttal or fresh evidence 269. As discussed above, the Prosecution submitted "in the alternative" that the Appeals Chamber should grant leave to the Prosecution to present "additional" evidence that was wrongly excluded by the Trial Chamber. The nature of the "alternative" was described as follows:
The issue is an issue of an error of law. The issue is whether or not the Trial Chamber applied the correct test for the admission of rebuttal or fresh evidence. If they applied the incorrect test and it's an error of law, then the Trial Chamber erred.
270. As noted above, the Appeals Chamber deals with this argument as an independent allegation of an error of law on behalf of the Trial Chamber.
271. At the request of the Trial Chamber during the case of the last of the accused to present his defence, the Prosecution filed a notification of witnesses proposed to testify in rebuttal. It proposed to call four witnesses, one relating to the case against Landzo and the others relating to the case against Delalic, one of whom was a Prosecution investigator being called essentially to tender a number of documents "not previously available to the prosecution". Oral submissions on the proposal were heard by the Trial Chamber on 24 July 1998, and the Trial Chamber ruled that, with the exception of the witness relating to the case against Landzo, the proposed evidence was not rebuttal evidence, but fresh evidence, and that the Prosecution had not put forward anything which would support an application to admit fresh evidence. This decision was reflected in a written Order which noted that "rebuttal evidence is limited to matters that arise directly and specifically out of defence evidence".
272. The evidence which was not admitted by the Trial Chamber related to Delic, Mucic and Delalic, but the Prosecution submission that the exclusion constituted an error invalidating the decision is limited in application to the effect of this evidence on its case against Delalic. Its overall purpose was to show that Delalic had the requisite degree of control over the Celebici camp. The three proposed witnesses, and the documents they sought to adduce, were as follows:
- (i) Rajko Dordic, Sr, to testify as to his release from the Celebici camp pursuant to a release form signed by Delalic and dated 3 July 1992. It was proposed that the witness produce and authenticate the document. This was intended to rebut the evidence of defence witnesses that Delalic was authorised to sign release documents only in exceptional circumstances when the members of the Investigative Commission were not present in Celebici.
- (ii) Stephen Chambers, an investigator of the Office of the Prosecutor, to present "documentary evidence not previously available to the Prosecutor" which had been seized from the State Commission for the Search for the Missing in Sarajevo and from the home and work premises of an official of the State Commission for Gathering Facts on War Crimes in Konjic. This was said to rebut the testimony of witnesses that Delalic, as commander of Tactical Group 1, had no authority over the Celebici camp.
- (iii) Professor Andrea Stegnar, a handwriting expert, to give expert testimony in relation to a number of the recently obtained documents alleged to bear the signature of the accused. This was not argued to have any independent rebuttal basis.
273. The Trial Chamber characterised the nature of rebuttal evidence as "evidence to refute a particular piece of evidence which has been adduced by the defence", with the result that it is "limited to matters that arise directly and specifically out of defence evidence." This standard is essentially consistent with that used previously and subsequently by other Trial Chambers. The Appeals Chamber agrees that this standard — that rebuttal evidence must relate to a significant issue arising directly out of defence evidence which could not reasonably have been anticipated — is correct. It is in this context that the Appeals Chamber understands the Trial Chamber's statement, made later in its Decision on Request to Reopen, that "evidence available to the Prosecution ab initio, the relevance of which does not arise ex improviso, and which remedies a defect in the case of the Prosecution, is generally not admissible." Although the Appeals Chamber would not itself use that particular terminology, it sees, contrary to the Prosecution submission, no error in that statement when read in context.
274. The Trial Chamber's particular reasons for rejecting the evidence as rebuttal evidence, as expressed in the oral hearing on 24 July, were, in relation to category (i), that the other evidence heard by the Trial Chamber was that Delalic had signed such documents only on behalf of the Investigating Commission and not in his own capacity. As the relevant release document also was acknowledged to state that Delalic was signing "for" the Commission, the Trial Chamber queried how it could be considered to rebut what had already been put in evidence. The Trial Chamber appeared to assess the document as having such low probative value in relation to the fundamental matter that the Prosecution was trying to prove — namely, Delalic's authority to release prisoners in his own capacity — that it could not be considered to rebut the defence evidence identified by the Prosecution. This assessment was reasonably open to the Trial Chamber.
275. In relation to category (ii), the Trial Chamber rejected the characterisation of the evidence as rebuttal evidence on the basis that it was better characterised as fresh evidence. While it may have been desirable for the Trial Chamber to state more specifically its view as to why the evidence did not refute a particular matters arising directly and specifically out of defence evidence, the Appeals Chamber agrees that it was open to regard the evidence as not being evidence in rebuttal. It is first noteworthy that the Prosecution, in applying to adduce the evidence, described it first as "fresh evidence, not previously available to the prosecution" and gave only a fairly cursory description of how in its view the evidence rebutted defence evidence. It said that the evidence would rebut the evidence of witnesses "who all stated that Zejnil Delalic as Commander of Tactical Group 1 had no de facto authority, or any other authority whatsoever" over the Celebici camp. Thus the evidence was intended to establish that Delalic did in fact exercise such authority. As such, it went to a matter which was a fundamental part of the case the Prosecution was required to prove in relation to its counts under Article 7(3). Such evidence should be brought as part of the Prosecution case in chief and not in rebuttal. As the Trial Chamber correctly observed, where the evidence which "is itself evidence probative of the guilt of the accused, and where it is reasonably foreseeable by the Prosecution that some gap in the proof of guilt needs to be filled by the evidence called by it", it is inappropriate to admit it in rebuttal, and the Prosecution "cannot call additional evidence merely because its case has been met by certain evidence to contradict it."
276. Where such evidence could not have been brought as part of the Prosecution case in chief because it was not in the hands of the Prosecution at the time, this does not render it admissible as rebuttal evidence. The fact that evidence is newly obtained, if that evidence does not meet the standard for admission of rebuttal evidence, will not render it admissible as rebuttal evidence. It merely puts it into the category of fresh evidence, to which a different basis of admissibility applies. This is essentially what the Trial Chamber found. There is therefore no merit in the Prosecution's submission that the evidence should have been admitted as "the reason for not adducing it during the Prosecution's case [was] not due to the failure to foresee the issues that may arise during the Defence case." The issue as to whether the evidence should have been admitted as fresh evidence is considered below.
277. The admission of the testimony of the handwriting expert referred to in category (iii) essentially relied on the admission of the category (ii) evidence, so it need not be further considered.
278. Following the Trial Chamber's rejection of the evidence as rebuttal evidence, the Prosecution filed an alternative request to re-open the Prosecution case. The Trial Chamber rejected this alternative orally, issuing its written reasons on 19 August 1998. The Prosecution filed applications under Rule 73 for leave to appeal the Order of 30 July and the Decision of 4 August, on 6 August and 17 August, respectively. A Bench of the Appeals Chamber denied leave to appeal in respect of both applications on the basis that it saw no issue that would cause such prejudice to the case of the Prosecution as could not be cured by the final disposal of the trial including post-judgement appeal, or which assumed general importance to the proceedings of the Tribunal or in international law generally, these being the two tests established by Rule 73(B) regarding the granting or withholding of leave to appeal.
279. In its Decision on Request to Reopen the Trial Chamber, after considering the basis on which evidence could be admitted as rebuttal evidence, acknowledged the possibility that the Prosecution "may further be granted leave to re-open its case in order to present new evidence not previously available to it." It stated:
Such fresh evidence is properly defined not merely as evidence that was not in fact in the possession of the Prosecution at the time of the conclusion of its case, but as evidence which by the exercise of reasonable diligence could not have been obtained by the Prosecution at that time. The burden of establishing that the evidence sought to be adduced is of this character rests squarely on the Prosecution.
280. The Trial Chamber also identified the factors which it considered relevant to the exercise of its discretion to admit the fresh evidence. These were described as:
- (i)the "advanced stage of the trial"; i.e., the later in the trial that the application is made, the less likely the evidence will be admitted;
- (ii)the delay likely to be caused by a re-opening of the Prosecution case, and the suitability of an adjournment in the overall context of the trial; and
- (iii)the probative value of the evidence to be presented.
281. Taking these considerations into account the Trial Chamber assessed both the evidence and the Prosecution's explanation for its late application to adduce it and concluded that the Prosecution had not discharged its burden of proving that the evidence could not have been found earlier with the exercise of reasonable diligence. In addition, it found that the admission of the evidence would result in the undue protraction of the trial for up to three months, as the testimony of further witnesses to authenticate the relevant documents could be required as well as the evidence of any witnesses that the defence should be permitted to bring in response. Finally, the Trial Chamber assessed the evidence to be of minimal probative value, consisting of "circumstantial evidence of doubtful validity", with the result that its exclusion would not cause the Prosecution injustice. It concluded generally that "the justice of the case and the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings enjoins a rejection of the application."
282. The Prosecution does not challenge the Trial Chamber's definition of fresh evidence as evidence which was not in the possession of the party at the time and which by the exercise of all reasonable diligence could not have been obtained by the relevant party at the conclusion of its case. Nor does it challenge the "general principle of admissibility" used by the Trial Chamber.
283. The Appeals Chamber agrees that the primary consideration in determining an application for reopening a case to allow for the admission of fresh evidence is the question of whether, with reasonable diligence, the evidence could have been identified and presented in the case in chief of the party making the application. If it is shown that the evidence could not have been found with the exercise of reasonable diligence before the close of the case, the Trial Chamber should exercise its discretion as to whether to admit the evidence by reference to the probative value of the evidence and the fairness to the accused of admitting it late in the proceedings. These latter factors can be regarded as falling under the general discretion, reflected in Rule 89 (D) of the Rules, to exclude evidence where its probative value is substantially outweighed by the need to ensure a fair trial. Although this second aspect of the question of admissibility was less clearly stated by the Trial Chamber, the Appeals Chamber, for the reasons discussed below, considers that it applied the correct principles in this respect.
284. The Prosecution contends that although the Trial Chamber was correct in requiring proof of the exercise of reasonable diligence, it should have found that it had exercised such diligence. The Trial Chamber took the view, having considered the reasons put forward by the Prosecution, that the Prosecution had not discharged its burden of demonstrating that even with reasonable diligence the proposed evidence could not have been previously obtained and presented as part of its case in chief. It implicitly expressed its opinion that the Prosecution had not pursued the relevant evidence vigorously until after the close of the Defence case. The Prosecution submits that this finding was "factually incorrect" and represented "a misapprehension of the facts in relation to the efforts of the Prosecution to obtain this evidence", but does not more than reiterate the description of the efforts to obtain the evidence which it had already provided to the Trial Chamber. It does not identify how, in its view, the Trial Chamber's conclusion on the facts were so unreasonable that no reasonable Trial Chamber could have reached it. It is not suggested that the Trial Chamber did not consider the Prosecution's explanation. No such suggestion could be made in light of the obvious demonstrations both in the hearing of the oral submissions on the issue and the Decision on the Request to Reopen that the Trial Chamber did consider the explanations the Prosecution was putting to it. In the Appeals Chamber's view, even making considerable allowances to the Prosecution in relation to the "complexities involved in obtaining the evidence", it is apparent that there were failures to pursue diligently the investigations for which no adequate attempt to provide an explanation was made.
285. Two examples demonstrate this problem. A number of the documents which were sought to be admitted had been seized in June 1998 from the office and home of Jasminka Dzumhur, a former official of the State Commission for Exchange in Konjic and the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina 4th Corps Military Investigative Commission. The material provided by the Prosecution in its Request to Reopen to explain its prior effort to obtain documents and information from Ms Dzumhur includes the statement that:
Between late 1996 and early 1997, the Prosecution contacted Jasminka Dzumhur three times. She consistently refused to provide a statement, but on one occasion, briefly showed an investigator an untranslated document concerning the transfer of duties in Celebici prison in November 1996, signed by Zdravko Mucic and Zejnil Delalic. She said she had other documents, but none of the documents were provided to the Prosecution.
With this knowledge, obtained in November 1996, that Ms Dzumhur held documents which they considered would be relevant to their case, the next step apparently taken by the Prosecution was four to five months later in mid-April 1997, when it made a formal request for assistance to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Prosecution received a response on 23 July 1997, following a reminder in June 1997. On the material provided by the Prosecution, it was almost five months later that it took the next step of issuing a second request to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which received a relatively rapid response in early January, by providing certain documents. Given that the trial had opened in March 1997, it was open to the Trial Chamber to regard the lapse of these periods of time between the taking of active steps to pursue the documents during after the trial had actually commenced as an indication that reasonable diligence was not being exercised.
286. Secondly, in a case such as the present where the evidence is sought to be presented not only after the close of the case of the Prosecution but long after the close of the case of the relevant accused, it was necessary for the Prosecution to establish that the evidence could not have been obtained, even if after the close of its case, at an earlier stage in the trial. The application to have the new evidence admitted was made many months after the Prosecution gained actual knowledge of the location at which the relevant documents were likely to be held. The information provided by the Prosecution, in its "Alternative Request to Reopen the Prosecution's Case", indicated that the Prosecution gained possession of certain documents from the State Commission for the Search for the Missing on 27 March 1998, which indicated that the relevant documents were in the possession of Jasminka Dzumhur. It was not until 5 May 1998 that the Prosecution took any further step in trying to obtain the documents, when it "informed the authorities that various requests concerning the contacting of officials and former officials of Konjic Municipality, including Jasminka Dzumhur remained outstanding". An application for a search warrant was made to a Judge of the Tribunal on 10 June 1998, after Delalic's defence case had closed. Even making allowances for the complexities of such investigations, allowing a period of over five weeks to elapse between becoming aware of the location of the documents and taking any further active step to obtain them, in light of the advanced state of the defence case, cannot be considered to be the exercise of reasonable diligence. If the Prosecution was in fact taking steps to obtain the information at that time, it did not disclose them to the Trial Chamber and cannot now complain at the assessment that it did not exercise "reasonable diligence" in obtaining and presenting the evidence earlier. Given that the burden of proving that reasonable diligence was exercised in obtaining the evidence lies on the Prosecution, it was open to the Trial Chamber to decide on the information provided to it by the Prosecution that it has not discharged that burden.
287. The Prosecution further submits that the Trial Chamber erred in the exercise of its discretion in certain of the matters it took into account. As the Trial Chamber's finding that reasonable diligence had not been exercised was a sufficient basis on which to dispose of the application, it is not strictly necessary to determine this issue, but as the Trial Chamber expressed its views on this aspect of the application, the Appeals Chamber will consider it here. The Prosecution argues that relevant and probative evidence is only excluded when its admission is substantially outweighed by the need to ensure a fair trial, and cites the provisions of certain national systems in support of this. In relation to these provisions which the Prosecution has selectively drawn from only three national jurisdictions, it can be observed that even if they were to be accepted as a guide to the principles applicable to this issue in the Tribunal, two of them simply confer a discretion on the Trial Chamber exceptionally to admit new evidence. The provision cited from the Costa Rican Code of Criminal Procedure states that:
Exceptionally, the court may order [...] that new evidence be introduced if, during the trial proceedings new facts or circumstances have arisen that need to be established.
The provision relied on from the German Code provides for the admission of new evidence "if this is absolutely necessary".
288. The Trial Chamber stated the principle as being that:
While it is axiomatic that all evidence must fulfill the requirements of admissibility, for the Trial Chamber to grant the Prosecution permission to reopen its case, the probative value of the proposed evidence must be such that it outweighs any prejudice caused to the accused. Great caution must be exercised by the Trial Chamber lest injustice be done to the accused, and it is therefore only in exceptional circumstances where the justice of the case so demands that the Trial Chamber will exercise its discretion to allow the Prosecution to adduce new evidence after the parties to a criminal trial have closed their case.
The Prosecution argues that the statement of the Trial Chamber that "the probative value of the proposed evidence must be such that it outweighs any prejudice caused to the accused" incorrectly states the applicable principle, which is that stated in Rule 89(D), namely that the need to ensure a fair trial substantially outweighs the probative value of the evidence. The reference by the Trial Chamber to the potential "prejudice caused to the accused" was not, in the view of the Appeals Chamber, the appropriate one in the context. However it is apparent from a reading of the rest of the Decision on Request to Reopen that the Trial Chamber, in referring to prejudice to the accused was turning its mind to matters which may affect the fairness of the accused's trial. This is apparent both from the reference, in the passage cited above, to the need to avoid "injustice to the accused" and the concluding statement in the decision:
In our view, the justice of the case and the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings enjoins a rejection of the application.
289. The Prosecution also argues that the Trial Chamber erred in its assessment of the probative value of the evidence. It contends that the Trial Chamber erred in finding that the evidence was inferential and equivocal. The Prosecution relies on a statement by the Trial Chamber that the documents "cannot be probative". Although this was perhaps unfortunate terminology, it is apparent from the Trial Chamber's decision that after considering the evidence it was of the view not that it could not be probative but that the documents "contain circumstantial evidence of doubtful validity". This was an assessment not that the documents were incapable, as a matter of law, of having probative value, but that, having regard to their contents which did not disclose direct evidence of the matters in dispute but, at best, gave rise to "mere inferences", the documents had a low probative value. This assessment, and more specifically the exercise of balancing the particular degree of probative value disclosed by the documents against the unfairness which would result if the evidence were admitted, is a matter for the Trial Chamber which will not be interfered with on appeal in the absence of convincing demonstration of error. No such demonstration has been made. 290. The Prosecution also specifically challenged the Trial Chamber's conclusion that the trial had reached such a stage that the evidence should not be admitted.452 The stage in the trial at which the evidence is sought to be adduced and the potential delay that will be caused to the trial are matters highly relevant to the fairness to the accused of admission of fresh evidence. This consideration extends not only to Delalic as the accused against whom the evidence was sought to be admitted, but also the three coaccused whose trial would be equally delayed for reasons unrelated to themselves. The Appeals Chamber does not understand the Trial Chamber to have taken the stage of the trial into account in any sense other than its impact on the fairness of the trial of the accused, and, in the circumstances, the Appeals Chamber regards the Trial Chamber as having been fully justified in taking the very late stage of the trial into account. The Prosecution sought to have this evidence admitted not only after the close of its own case, but well after the close of the defence case of Delalic and only very shortly before the close of the case of the last accused. The Prosecution contends that "none of the accused objected to the potential presentation of the evidence of Mr Chambers."453 This assertion is clearly incorrect. At the hearing of oral submissions on whether the evidence could be admitted as rebuttal or fresh evidence, counsel for Delalic stated:
His Honour Karibi-Whyte has said what I was thinking and that is that we're in the second year of this trial, and, perhaps, the third or fourth year of investigations concerning these matters. And the Prosecution, despite what they say, despite what reasons they may offer, I think is a matter of law. It's unfair at this point to produce documents in June,1998.
The defence for Delalic also expressed its opposition to the presentation of the fresh evidence in its written response to the request to reopen.
291. The Prosecution also argued that the Trial Chamber was wrong in its finding that the admission of the evidence would cause three months' delay:
The Prosecutor calculated that the three remaining proposed witnesses would take, on direct examination, less than four hours. It is respectfully submitted that the Trial Chamber's estimation that this would likely postpone the trial for three months is not borne out, given that there were only three witnesses and approximately 22 documents, some only supporting documents for the search warrant.
This submission is disingenuous. The time which the Trial Chamber needed to take into account in determining the effect on the accused was not limited to the time which it may take to examine the three witnesses. The Trial Chamber found that, given the nature of the documents, it was likely that the testimony of further witnesses would be required to authenticate the relevant documents. It would also be necessary to allow for the defence to call appropriate witnesses in response. Further, as noted by the Trial Chamber, the Prosecution had stated in its Request to Reopen, after acknowledging that the defence may need to call witnesses:
In addition, the Prosecution would seek leave to call witnesses to rebut the testimony of those brought by the Defence.
292. In light of these considerations, it was open to the Trial Chamber — which, having presided over the trial which had already taken over eighteen months, was well-placed to assess the time required taking into account practical considerations such as temporary witness unavailability — to conclude that the likely delay would be up to three months. In light of this finding, it is apparent that the Trial Chamber considered that the admission of the evidence would create a sufficiently adverse effect on the fairness of the trial of all of the accused, that it outweighed the limited probative value of the evidence. As a secondary matter, it is also apparent that the Trial Chamber was concerned to fulfill its obligation under Article 20 of the Statute to ensure the trial was expeditious. In light of these considerations, the decision not to exercise its discretion to grant the application was open to the Trial Chamber.
293. For the above reasons, the Appeals Chamber finds that the Prosecution has not demonstrated that the Trial Chamber committed any error in the exercise of its discretion. This aspect of this ground of appeal relating to the exclusion of evidence by the Trial Chamber is therefore also dismissed, and with it this ground of appeal in its entirety.
. Delic's Acquittal under Article 7(3) 4. The Prosecution's fifth ground of appeal alleges that the Trial Chamber "erred when it decided... that Hazim Delic was not a 'superior' in the Celebici Prison Camp for the purposes of ascribing criminal responsibility to him under Article 7(3) of the Statute." The Prosecution submits that the Trial Chamber applied the wrong legal test when it held that "the perpetrator of the underlying offence must be the subordinate of the person of higher rank" and that "a subordinate unit of the superior or commander is a sine qua non for superior responsibility." The Prosecution also submits, apparently in the alternative, that, even if the test formulated by the Trial Chamber for determining who is a superior for the purposes of Article 7(3) was correct, it misapplied the test in this case. The Prosecution refers to the Trial Chamber's findings, including its finding that Delic was the "deputy commander" of the camp, to say that he should have been found to be a superior. Because, it is said, the Trial Chamber's findings also establish that he was aware of the offences of subordinates, and that he failed to prevent or punish them, the Appeals Chamber should find Delic guilty under Article 7(3) on counts 13, 14, 33, 34, 38, 39, 44, 45, 46 and 47.
295. In support of this ground, the Prosecution reiterates its theory that command responsibility entails a superior-subordinate relationship in which the superior effectively controls the subordinate, in the sense that the superior possesses the material ability to prevent or punish the offences and that "[s]uch control can be manifest in powers of influence which permit the superior to intervene". It also argues that the Trial Chamber erred in requiring Delic to be part of the chain of command, as the correct test is whether he has sufficient control, influence, or authority to prevent or punish. If, as the Trial Chamber found, de facto control is sufficient in this context, it should assess in each case whether an accused has de facto powers or control to prevent or punish.
296. Delic responds that among the elements required for finding a person liable under the doctrine of command responsibility are the requirement of "a hierarchy in which superiors are authorized to control their subordinates to a degree that the superior is responsible for the actions of his subordinates" and that the superior must be "vested with authority to control his subordinates." In the military, the chain of command is a hierarchy of commanders, with deputy commanders being outside this chain of command.
297. Turning to the Trial Chamber's findings on the question of Delic's liability under Article 7(3), it clearly found that Delic held the position of "deputy commander" of the Celebici camp. However, it also found that this was "not dispositive of Delic's status" as the real issue before the Trial Chamber was:
[w]hether the accused had the power to issue orders to subordinates and to prevent or punish the criminal acts of his subordinates, thus placing him within the chain of command. In order to do so the Trial Chamber must look to the actual authority of Hazim Delic as evidenced by his acts in the Celebici prison camp.
298. The Chamber proceeded to consider evidence of the degree of actual authority wielded by Delic in the camp, and concluded that:
[...] this evidence is indicative of a degree of influence Hazim Delic had in the Celebici prison-camp on some occasions, in the criminal mistreatment of detainees. However, this influence could be attributable to the guards' fear of an intimidating and morally delinquent individual who was the instigator of and a participant in the mistreatment of detainees, and is not, on the facts before the Trial Chamber, of itself indicative of the superior authority of. Delic sufficient to attribute superior responsibility to him.
Having examined more evidence, it further found:
This evidence indicates that Hazim Delic was tasked with assisting Zradvko Mucic by organising and arranging for the daily activities in the Celebici prison-camp. However, it cannot be said to indicate that he had actual command authority in the sense that he could issue orders and punish and prevent the criminal acts of subordinates.
299. The Trial Chamber therefore concluded that, despite Delic's position of deputy commander of the camp, he did not exercise actual authority in the sense of having powers to prevent or punish and therefore was not a superior or commander of the perpetrators of the relevant offences in the sense required by Article 7(3).
300. The Appeals Chamber has already rejected, in its discussion of the Prosecution's second ground of appeal, the Prosecution argument that "substantial influence" is a sufficient measure of "control" for the imposition of liability under Article 7(3). It need only therefore confirm that the Trial Chamber's finding that Delic had powers of influence was not of itself a sufficient basis on which to find him a superior if it was not established beyond reasonable doubt by the evidence that he actually had the ability to exercise effective control over the relevant perpetrators.
301. The remaining issue as to the applicable law raised by the Prosecution in relation to this ground which has not previously been considered is its contention that the Trial Chamber erred because it required Delic to be part of the chain of command and, more generally, it required the perpetrators of the underlying offences to be his "subordinates" before liability under Article 7(3) could be imposed.
302. It is beyond question that the Trial Chamber considered Article 7(3) to impose a requirement that there be a superior with a corresponding subordinate. The Prosecution itself submits that one of the three requirements under Article 7(3) is that of a superior-subordinate relationship. There is therefore a certain difficulty in comprehending the Prosecution submission that the Trial Chamber erred in law in requiring the perpetrator of the underlying offence to be a subordinate of the person of higher rank. The Trial Chamber clearly did understand the relationship of subordination to encompass indirect and informal relationships, as is apparent from its acceptance of the concepts of civilian superiors and de facto authority, to which the Appeals Chamber has referred in its discussion of the issue in relation to the Prosecution's second ground of appeal.
303. The Appeals Chamber understands the necessity to prove that the perpetrator was the "subordinate" of the accused, not to import a requirement of direct or formal subordination but to mean that the relevant accused is, by virtue of his or her position, senior in some sort of formal or informal hierarchy to the perpetrator. The ability to exercise effective control in the sense of a material power to prevent or punish, which the Appeals Chamber considers to be a minimum requirement for the recognition of the superior-subordinate relationship, will almost invariably not be satisfied unless such a relationship of subordination exists. However, it is possible to imagine scenarios in which one of two persons of equal status or rank — such as two soldiers or two civilian prison guards — could in fact exercise "effective control" over the other at least in the sense of a purely practical ability to prevent the conduct of the other by, for example, force of personality or physical strength. The Appeals Chamber does not consider the doctrine of command responsibility — which developed with an emphasis on persons who, by virtue of the position which they occupy, have authority over others — as having been intended to impose criminal liability on persons for the acts of other persons of completely equal status.
304. The Appeals Chamber acknowledges that the Trial Chamber's references to the absence of evidence that Delic "lay within" or was "part of" the chain of command may, if taken in isolation, be open to the interpretation that the Trial Chamber believed Article 7(3) to require the accused to have a formal position in a formal hierarchy which directly links him to a subordinate who also holds a formal position within that hierarchy. Given that it has been accepted that the law relating to command responsibility recognises not only civilian superiors, who may not be in any such formal chain of command, and de facto authority, for which no formal appointment is required, the law does not allow for such an interpretation. However, when read in the context of the rest of the Trial Chamber's Judgement, the Appeals Chamber is satisfied that the Trial Chamber was not in fact imposing the requirement of such a formalised position in a formal chain of command, as opposed to requiring that there be proof that Delic was a superior in the sense of having the material ability to prevent or punish the acts of persons subordinate to him. This is apparent from, for example, the Trial Chamber's references to the sufficiency of indirect control (where it amounts to effective control) and its acceptance of de facto authority, to which reference has already been made by the Appeals Chamber in the context of the Prosecution's second ground of appeal.
305. However, the Prosecution has also submitted that, "even on the Trial Chamber's test for the superior-subordinate relationship, Delic should have been convicted as the Trial Chamber misapplied this test to its own findings of fact". The Prosecution, based on its understanding that the Trial Chamber required proof that Delic was exercising authority within a formal chain of command, contends that the facts found by the Trial Chamber establish this. As indicated above, the Appeals Chamber considers that the Trial Chamber essentially applied the correct test — whether Delic exercised effective control in having the material ability to prevent or punish crimes committed by subordinates — and did not require him to have a formalised position in a direct chain of command over the subordinates. However, the Appeals Chamber will consider the Trial Chamber findings which are relied on by the Prosecution to determine whether those findings must have compelled a conclusion that either standard was satisfied. As this aspect of the appeal involves an allegation that the Trial Chamber erred in its findings of fact, the Prosecution must establish that the conclusion reached by the Trial Chamber (that Delic did not exercise superior authority) was one which no reasonable tribunal of fact could have reached. In order to succeed on its submission that the Appeals Chamber should substitute its own finding for that of the Trial Chamber — that is, that Delic did in fact exercise command responsibility and enter convictions accordingly — it is necessary for the Prosecution to establish that this finding is the only reasonable finding available on the evidence. This standard was acknowledged by the Prosecution.
306. The Prosecution first relies on the Trial Chamber's finding that Delic was deputy commander of the camp. The Appeals Chamber accepts the Trial Chamber's view that this title or position is not dispositive of the issue and that it is necessary to look to whether there was evidence of actual authority or control exercised by Delic. For the same reason, the fact that the detainees regarded him as the deputy commander, and as a person with influence over the guards, is not conclusive evidence of his actual authority.
307. The Prosecution identifies four other findings of the Trial Chamber which it says demonstrate such actual control. The Appeals Chamber considers them in turn.
308. The Trial Chamber referred to testimony of four witnesses to the effect that the guards feared Delic and that he occasionally criticised them severely. This evidence appeared to be accepted by the Trial Chamber, but it was interpreted by the Trial Chamber as showing a "degree of influence" which could be "attributable to the guards' fear of an intimidating and morally delinquent individual" rather than as unambiguous evidence of superior authority. The Appeals Chamber considers that this interpretation of this piece of evidence was open to the Trial Chamber, who, it must be remembered, heard the witnesses and the totality of the evidence itself. There was certainly nothing submitted by the Prosecution which would demonstrate that this conclusion was so unreasonable that no reasonable tribunal of fact could have reached it.
309. The Prosecution also referred to evidence that Delic had ordered the beating of detainees on certain occasions. As the Prosecution itself acknowledges, the Trial Chamber did not find beyond reasonable doubt that Delic did in fact order guards to conduct the series of beatings which was the subject of the evidence referred to in paragraph 804 of the Trial Judgement. The Trial Chamber referred to the evidence of certain witnesses and concluded that the evidence "suggests that Mr. Delic conducted a vindictive beating of the people from Bradina on one particular day and then told at least one other guard, Mr. Landzo to continue this beating.
However, it is not proven that the beatings that followed from that day or [sic] were 'ordered' by Mr. Delic". In relation to the second occasion referred to in paragraph 805 of the Judgement, the Trial Chamber only referred to the Prosecution allegation of Delic ordering a beating and stated:
Witness F and Mirko Dordic testified to this incident and indicated that Delic "ordered" or was "commanding" the guards in this collective beating.
The Trial Chamber did not state whether it accepted this evidence, and it made no finding as to whether Delic actually ordered the beating or not. Despite the Prosecution's apparent suggestion that it is enough that "the Trial Chamber made no finding that this evidence was unreliable", this is not a sufficient basis for the Appeals Chamber to take it as a finding by the Trial Chamber that the ordering of the beating was proved beyond reasonable doubt. The Appeals Chamber therefore cannot identify from the matters referred to by the Prosecution any unambiguous findings that it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that Delic ordered guards to mistreat detainees.
310. The Prosecution also refers to the finding that Delic "was tasked with assisting Zdravko Mucic by organising and arranging for the daily activities in the camp." A finding as to such a responsibility for organising and arranging activities in the camp, while potentially demonstrating that Delic had some seniority within the camp, actually provides no information at all as to whether he had authority or effective control over the guards within the camp who were the perpetrators of the offences for which it is sought to make Delic responsible. The Appeals Chamber therefore agrees with the Trial Chamber that it was open to regard this evidence as inconclusive.
311. Finally, the Prosecution refers to evidence given by Delic's co-accused Landzo that he "carried out all of [Delic's] orders out of fear and also because I believed I had to carry [sic] execute them". While the Trial Chamber certainly considered this evidence, it did not accept it, as it found that Landzo was not a credible witness and that his evidence could not be relied on unless supported by other evidence. It did not identify any other evidence which it regarded as constituting such support.
312. There were therefore a number of problems with the relevance of the findings or the quality of the underlying evidence relied on by the Prosecution. The weakness of such evidence as the foundation of any finding beyond reasonable doubt that Delic exercised superior authority was recognised by the Trial Chamber, which concluded that all this evidence was "indicative of a degree of influence Hazim Delic had in the Celebici prison-camp on some occasions, in the criminal mistreatment of detainees", but that it "is not, on the facts before this Trial Chamber, of itself indicative of the superior authority of Delic sufficient to attribute superior responsibility to him". The Appeals Chamber does not see anything in this conclusion which suggests it is unreasonable, and certainly not that it is so unreasonable that no reasonable tribunal of fact could reach it.
313. Although this conclusion effectively disposes of this ground of appeal, it is necessary to make an observation in relation to one final issue. The Prosecution submitted that, should it be accepted that the Trial Chamber should have found that Delic did in fact exercise superior authority over the guards in the camp, it would then be possible to reverse his acquittals on the basis of the findings in the Trial Judgement. In particular, it submits that it is established that Delic knew or had reason to know on the following basis:
It cannot seriously be disputed that Delic knew of the crimes being committed in the camp generally. The Trial Chamber said that "The crimes committed in the Celebici prison-camp were so frequent and notorious that there is no way that Mr. Mucic could not have known or heard about them." There is also no way that Delic could not have known about them, given that he was himself convicted for directly participating in them, and was involved in the operation of the camp on a daily basis.
It must first be observed that, contrary to this submission, there was no finding that Delic directly participated in all of the crimes for which he is sought to be made responsible. Secondly, it cannot be accepted that a finding by the Trial Chamber that a co-accused who was commander of the camp must have known of the crimes committed in the camp can be taken, by some kind of imputation, as a finding beyond reasonable doubt that Delic knew or had reason to know of the crimes for which the Prosecution seeks to have convictions entered. The Trial Judgement contains no findings as to Delic's state of knowledge in relation to many of the crimes for which the Prosecution seek a reversal of the acquittal. It is undisputed that command responsibility does not impose strict liability on a superior for the offences of subordinates. Thus, had the Appeals Chamber accepted that the only reasonable conclusion on the evidence was that Delic was a superior, the question of whether he knew or had reason to know of the relevant offences would have remained unresolved, and it would in theory have been necessary to remit the matter to a Trial Chamber for consideration.
314. For the foregoing reasons, the Appeals Chamber dismisses this ground of appeal.
V. UNLAWFUL CONFINEMENT OF CIVILIANS
315. Count 48 of the Indictment charged Mucic, Delic and Delalic with individual participation in, and superior responsibility for, the unlawful confinement of numerous civilians in the Celebici camp. The offence of unlawful confinement of civilians is punishable under Article 2(g) of the Statute as a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. Count 48 provided:
Between May and October 1992, Zejnil DELALIC, Zdravko MUCIC, and Hazim DELIC participated in the unlawful confinement of numerous civilians at Celebici camp. Zejnil DELALIC, Zdravko MUCIC, and Hazim DELIC also knew or had reason to know that persons in positions of subordinate authority to them were about to commit those acts resulting in the unlawful confinement of civilians, or had already committed those acts, and failed either to take the necessary and reasonable steps to prevent those acts or to punish the perpetrators after the acts had been committed. By their acts and omissions, Zejnil DELALIC, Zdravko MUCIC, and Hazim DELIC are responsible for:
Count 48. A Grave Breach punishable under Article 2(g) (unlawful confinement of civilians) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
316. The Trial Chamber found Mucic guilty of unlawful confinement of civilians as charged in count 48 under both Articles 7(1) and 7(3) of the Statute. It found Delalic and Delic not guilty under this count. The Prosecution appeals against these acquittals. The Prosecution contends in its third ground of appeal that:
The Trial Chamber erred when it decided in paragraphs 1124-1144 that Zejnil Delalic was not guilty of the unlawful confinement of civilians as charged in count 48 of the Indictment.
The Prosecution's sixth ground of appeal is that:
The Trial Chamber erred when it decided in paragraphs 1125-1144 that Hazim Delic was not guilty of the unlawful confinement of civilians as charged in count 48 of the Indictment.
317. The Prosecution contends that the Trial Chamber applied the wrong legal principle to determine the responsibility of Delalic and Delic for the unlawful confinement of the civilians in the Celebici camp. In the case of Delalic, the Prosecution contends that the Trial Chamber also failed to apply correctly the law relating to aiding and abetting.
318. Mucic appeals against his conviction. He contends in his twelfth ground of appeal that:
The Trial Chamber erred in fact and law in finding that the detainees, or any of them, within the Celebici camp were unlawfully detained [...]
Mucic also challenges the Trial Chamber's findings that he had the requisite mens rea for the offence and that any acts or omissions by him were sufficient to constitute the actus reus for the offence.
319. These grounds of appeal, although dealing with different matters, touch on a number of issues which are common to each ground. It is convenient to discuss two of these common legal issues before turning to the specific issues raised discretely by each ground of appeal:
- (i)the legal standard for determining what constitutes the unlawful confinement of civilians; and
- (ii)whether the Trial Chamber was correct in its conclusion that some of the civilians in the Celebici camp were unlawfully detained.
(i) The unlawful confinement of civilians 320. The offence of unlawful confinement of a civilian, a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions which is recognised under Article 2(g) of the Statute of the Tribunal, is not further defined in the Statute. As found by the Trial Chamber, however, clear guidance can be found in the provisions of Geneva Convention IV. The Trial Chamber found that the confinement of civilians during armed conflict may be permissible in limited cases, but will be unlawful if the detaining party does not comply with the provisions of Article 42 of Geneva Convention IV, which states:
The internment or placing in assigned residence of protected persons may be ordered only if the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary. If any person, acting through the representatives of the Protecting Power, voluntarily demands internment, and if his situation renders this step necessary, he shall be interned by the Power in whose hands he may be.
Thus the involuntary confinement of a civilian where the security of the Detaining Power does not make this absolutely necessary will be unlawful. Further, an initially lawful internment clearly becomes unlawful if the detaining party does not respect the basic procedural rights of the detained persons and does not establish an appropriate court or administrative board as prescribed in Article 43 of Geneva Convention IV. That article provides:
Any protected person who has been interned or placed in assigned residence shall be entitled to have such action reconsidered as soon as possible by an appropriate court or administrative board designated by the Detaining Power for that purpose. If the internment or placing in assigned residence is maintained, the court or administrative board shall periodically, and at least twice yearly, give consideration to his or her case, with a view to the favourable amendment of the initial decision, if circumstances permit.
Unless the protected persons concerned object, the Detaining Power shall, as rapidly as possible, give the Protecting Power the names of any protected persons who have been interned or subjected to assigned residence, or have been released from internment or assigned residence. The decisions of the courts or boards mentioned in the first paragraph of the present Article shall also, subject to the same conditions, be notified as rapidly as possible to the Protecting Power.
321. In its consideration of the law relating to the offence of unlawful confinement, the Trial Chamber also referred to Article 5 of Geneva Convention IV, which imposes certain restrictions on the protections which may be enjoyed by certain individuals under the Convention. It provides, in relevant part:
Where, in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.[...]
In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity, and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be.
This provision reinforces the principle behind Article 42, that restrictions on the rights of civilian protected persons, such as deprivation of their liberty by confinement, are permissible only where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the security of the State is at risk.
322. The Appeals Chamber agrees with the Trial Chamber that the exceptional measure of confinement of a civilian will be lawful only in the conditions prescribed by Article 42, and where the provisions of Article 43 are complied with. Thus the detention or confinement of civilians will be unlawful in the following two circumstances:
- (i)when a civilian or civilians have been detained in contravention of Article 42 of Geneva Convention IV, i.e. they are detained without reasonable grounds to believe that the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary; and
- (ii)where the procedural safeguards required by Article 43 of Geneva Convention IV are not complied with in respect of detained civilians, even where their initial detention may have been justified.
(ii) Was the confinement of the Celebici camp detainees unlawful? 323. As stated above, the Trial Chamber found that the persons detained in the Celebici camp were civilian protected persons for the purposes of Article 4 of Geneva Convention IV. The Trial Chamber accepted evidence that indicated that a number of the civilians in the camp were in possession of weapons at the time of their capture, but refrained from making any finding as to whether the detaining power could legitimately have formed the view that the detention of this category of persons was necessary for the security of that power. However, the Trial Chamber also found that the confinement of a significant number of civilians in the camp could not be justified by any means. Even taking into account the measure of discretion which should be afforded to the detaining power in assessing what may be detrimental to its own security, several of the detained civilians could not reasonably have been considered to pose any sufficiently serious danger as to warrant their detention. The Trial Chamber specifically accepted the evidence of a number of witnesses who had testified that they had not participated in any military activity or even been politically active, including a 42-year old mother of two children. It concluded that at least this category of people were detained in the camp although there existed no serious and legitimate reason to conclude that they seriously prejudiced the security of the detaining party, which indicated that the detention was a collective measure aimed at a specific group of persons, based mainly on their ethnic background.
324. Mucic argues in relation to his ground of appeal, and Delic and Delalic argue in response to the Prosecution's ground of appeal, that the Prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the persons confined in the Celebici camp were unlawfully detained. They reiterate their submission that the detainees were not in fact protected persons, a submission which the Appeals Chamber is rejecting in relation to the ground of appeal based on that argument.
325. The Prosecution responds that the findings of the Trial Chamber that the victims were unlawfully detained must stand unless the accused show that those findings were unreasonable in the sense that no reasonable person could have reached them.
326. Delalic contends that since "the Trial Chamber, in determining that they [the civilians] were protected persons, found that they were not loyal to [...] Bosnia and Herzegovina, then they are virtually ipso facto security risks to the Government in that they are supporting the rebel forces". He explains the detention of persons who may not have borne arms on the basis that "if not engaged in actual fighting, then they are certainly in a position to provide food, clothing, shelter and information to those who are".
327. In the Appeals Chamber's view, there is no necessary inconsistency between the Trial Chamber's finding that the Bosnian Serbs were regarded by the Bosnian authorities as belonging to the opposing party in an armed conflict and the finding that some of them could not reasonably be regarded as presenting a threat to the detaining power's security. To hold the contrary would suggest that, whenever the armed forces of a State are engaged in armed conflict, the entire civilian population of that State is necessarily a threat to security and therefore may be detained. It is perfectly clear from the provisions of Geneva Convention IV referred to above that there is no such blanket power to detain the entire civilian population of a party to the conflict in such circumstances, but that there must be an assessment that each civilian taken into detention poses a particular risk to the security of the State. This is reflected in the ICRC Commentary to Article 42 of Geneva Convention IV:
[...] the mere fact that a person is a subject of an enemy Power cannot be considered as threatening the security of the country where he is living; it is not therefore a valid reason for interning him or placing him in assigned residence.
Thus the Appeals Chamber agrees with the conclusion reached by the Trial Chamber that "the mere fact that a person is a national of, or aligned with, an enemy party cannot be considered as threatening the security of the opposing party where he is living, and is not, therefore, a valid reason for interning him."
328. It was contended by Delic that detention in the present case was justified under international law because "[t]he government is clearly entitled to some reasonable time to determine which of the detainees is a danger to the State's security". Although the Appeals Chamber accepts this proposition, it does not share the view apparently taken by Delic as to what is a "reasonable time" for this purpose. The reasonableness of this period is not a matter solely to be assessed by the detaining power. The Appeals Chamber recalls that Article 43 of Geneva Convention IV provides that the decision to take measures of detention against civilians must be "reconsidered as soon as possible by an appropriate court or administrative board."520 Read in this light, the reasonable time which is to be afforded to a detaining power to ascertain whether detained civilians pose a security risk must be the minimum time necessary to make enquiries to determine whether a view that they pose a security risk has any objective foundation such that it would found a "definite suspicion" of the nature referred to in Article 5 of Geneva Convention IV. Although the Trial Chamber made no express finding upon this issue, the Appeals Chamber is satisfied that the only reasonable finding upon the evidence is that the civilians detained in the Celebici camp had been detained for longer than such a minimum time.
329. The Trial Chamber found that a Military Investigative Commission for the crimes allegedly committed by the persons confined in the Celebici camp was established, but that this Commission did not meet the requirements of Article 43 of Geneva Convention IV as it did not have the necessary power to decide finally on the release of prisoners whose detention could not be considered as justified for any serious reason. There is therefore nothing in the activities of the Commission which could justify the continued detention of detainees in respect of whom there was no reason to categorise as a security risk. Indeed, it appears to have recommended the release of several of the Celebici camp detainees, albeit without result. Delic submits that "the government had the right to continue the confinement until it determined that the State's security would not be harmed by release of the detainees." This submission, which carries the implication that civilian detainees may be considered a risk to security which makes their detention absolutely necessary until proved otherwise, completely reverses the onus of justifying detention of civilians. It is upon the detaining power to establish that the particular civilian does pose such a risk to its security that he must be detained, and the obligation lies on it to release the civilian if there is inadequate foundation for such a view.
330. The Trial Chamber, as the trier of facts, is in the best position to assess and weigh the evidence before it, and the Appeals Chamber gives a margin of deference to a Trial Chamber's evaluation of the evidence and findings of facts. Nothing put to the Appeals Chamber indicates that there is anything unreasonable in the relevant sense in the Trial Chamber's findings as to the unlawful nature of the confinement of a number of civilians in the Celebici camp. As observed in the ICRC Commentary, the measure of confinement of civilians is an "exceptionally severe" measure, and it is for that reason that the threshold for its imposition is high — it must, on the express terms of Article 42, be "absolutely necessary". It was open to the Trial Chamber to accept the evidence of a number of witnesses that they had not borne arms, nor been active in political or any other activity which would give rise to a legitimate concern that they posed a security risk. The Appeals Chamber is also not satisfied that the Trial Chamber erred in its conclusion that, even if it were to accept that the initial confinement of the individuals detained in the Celebici prison-camp was lawful, the continuing confinement of these civilians was in violation of international humanitarian law, as the detainees were not granted the procedural rights required by article 43 of Geneva Convention IV.
B. The Prosecution appeals
331. As stated above, the Prosecution claims that the Trial Chamber erred in acquitting Delalic of both direct responsibility under Article 7(1) and superior responsibility under Article 7(3) for the offence of unlawful confinement.
332. The Prosecution requests the Appeals Chamber to reverse the Trial Chamber's acquittal of Delalic and Mucic on count 48, and substitute a verdict of guilty for this count. Delalic and Delic respond that their acquittals on this count were correct in law and should not be disturbed.
1. Article 7(3) Liability 333. The Prosecution argues as part of the third ground of appeal that the Trial Chamber erred in finding that it was not proved that Delalic had superior authority in connection with the unlawful confinement of civilians, and relies for support on its arguments submitted in relation to its second ground of appeal, without more. In relation to the sixth ground of appeal, the Prosecution contends that the Trial Chamber erred in finding that Delic did not have superior responsibility for the unlawful confinement of civilians.
334. The Trial Chamber found that:
Zejnil Delalic and Hazim Delic have respectively been found not to have exercised superior authority over the Celebici prison-camp. For this reason, the Trial Chamber finds that these two accused cannot be held criminally liable as superiors, pursuant to Article 7(3) of the Statute, for the unlawful confinement of civilians in the Celebici prison-camp.
The resolution of this aspect of these grounds therefore rests upon the resolution of the Prosecution's second and fifth grounds of appeal, which challenged the Trial Chamber's finding that Delalic and Delic did not exercise superior authority under Article 7(3) of the Statute. The Appeals Chamber has dismissed those grounds of appeal, with the result that the Trial Chamber's determination that Delalic and Delic were not superiors for the purposes of Article 7(3) of the Statute remains. The present grounds of appeal therefore cannot succeed insofar as they relate to Delalic and Delic's liability for the unlawful confinement of civilians pursuant to Article 7(3) of the Statute.
2. Article 7(1) Liability 335. The Prosecution contends that the Trial Chamber erred in law in the principles it applied in considering when an accused can be held responsible under Article 7 (1) for unlawful confinement of civilians. The Prosecution argues that, had the Trial Chamber applied the correct legal principles in regard to Article 7(1) to the facts it had found, Delalic and Delic would have been liable under Article 7(1) for aiding and abetting in the commission of the unlawful confinement of civilians. It is submitted that the Trial Chamber's findings demonstrate that Delalic and Delic knew that civilians were unlawfully confined in the camp and consciously participated in their continued detention, and that this is sufficient to found their personal liability for the offence.
336. As discussed above, the Trial Chamber found that civilians are unlawfully confined where they are detained in contravention of Articles 42 and 43 of Geneva Convention IV. In relation to the nature of the individual participation in the unlawful confinement which will render an individual personally liable for the offence of unlawful confinement of civilians under Article 2(g) of the Statute, the Trial Chamber, having found that Delalic and Delic did not exercise superior responsibility over the camp, held:
Furthermore, on the basis of these findings, the Trial Chamber must conclude that the Prosecution has failed to demonstrate that Zejnil Delalic and Hazim Delic were in a position to affect the continued detention of civilians in the Celebici prison-camp. In these circumstances, Zejnil Delalic and Hazim Delic cannot be deemed to have participated in this offence. Accordingly, the Trial Chamber finds that Zejnil Delalic and Hazim Delic are not guilty of the unlawful confinement of civilians, as charged in count 48 of the Indictment.
337. On the basis of the italicised portion of the above passage, the Prosecution interprets the Trial Chamber as having applied a test which requires proof of the exercise of superior authority under Article 7(3) of the Statute before an individual could be held responsible under Article 7(1) of the Statute for the offence of unlawful confinement. More generally, the Prosecution submits that the Trial Chamber erred in finding that, as a matter of law, an accused cannot be criminally liable under Article 7(1) for the unlawful confinement of civilians unless that person was "in a position to affect the continued detention of civilians". The Prosecution observes that individual criminal liability extends to any person who committed an offence in the terms of Article 7(1).
338. In relation to the contention that the Trial Chamber found that an accused can be liable under Article 7(1) for the offence of unlawful confinement only if it is proved that he exercises superior authority under Article 7(3), there is some question as to whether the Trial Chamber in fact made such a legal finding. The Trial Chamber's statement that, "on the basis of" its findings that Delalic and Delic could not be held criminally liable under Article 7(3) of the Statute, it "must conclude" that there had been a failure to prove that they had been in a position to affect the continued detention of the civilians in the camp could be interpreted as suggesting that the Trial Chamber believed that, as a legal matter, there could be no liability for unlawful confinement under Article 7(1) without superior responsibility under Article 7(3) being established. Such a legal interpretation is clearly incorrect, as it entwines two types of liability, liability under Article 7(1) and liability under Article 7(3). As emphasised by the Secretary-General's Report, the two liabilities are different in nature. Liability under Article 7(1) applies to direct perpetrators of crimes and to accomplices. Article 7(3) applies to persons exercising command or superior responsibility. As has already been acknowledged by the Appeals Chamber in another context, these principles are quite separate and neither is dependent in law upon the other. In the Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, the Appeals Chamber rejected a Trial Chamber statement, made in relation to the offence of outrages of personal dignity consisting of the use of detainees for forced labour and as human shields, that the accused "cannot be held responsible under Article 7(1) in circumstances where he does not have direct authority over the main perpetrators of the crimes". There is no reason to believe that, in the context of the offence of unlawful confinement, there would be any special requirement that a position of superior authority be proved before liability under Article 7(1) could be recognised.
339. However, the Appeals Chamber is not satisfied that this is what the Trial Chamber in fact held. The reference to its findings on the issue of superior authority when concluding that, "[i]n these circumstances, Zejnil Delalic and Hazim Delic cannot be deemed to have participated in this offence" suggests that the Trial Chamber was referring not to its legal conclusion that the two accused were not superiors for the purposes of Article 7(3), but to the previous factual findings that it had made in that context, which were also relevant to the issue of their individual responsibility for the offence of unlawful confinement. Whether the Trial Chamber was unreasonable in relying on those findings to conclude that Delalic and Delic should be acquitted of the offence under Article 7(1) is a separate issue which is discussed below.
340. The Prosecution also challenges the Trial Chamber's apparent conclusion that, to be responsible for this offence under Article 7(1), the perpetrator must be "in a position to affect the continued detention" of the relevant civilians. Responsibility may be attributed if the accused falls within the terms of Article 7(1) of the Statute, which provides that:
A person who planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of a crime referred to in articles 2 to 5 of the present Statute, shall be individually responsible for the crime.
341. It is submitted that an accused can be liable under Article 7(1) for committing the crime of unlawful confinement of civilians even if the accused was not the person who could determine which victim would be detained, and whether particular victims would be released. The Prosecution proposes that, in order to establish criminal responsibility for committing the offence of unlawful confinement of civilians it is sufficient to prove (i) that civilians were unlawfully confined, (ii) knowledge that the civilians were being unlawfully confined and (iii) participation in the confinement of those persons. The Prosecution submits that, in relation to guards in a prison, the third matter "will be satisfied by showing that the duties of the guard were in themselves in execution or administration of the illegal system."
342. The Appeals Chamber is of the view that to establish that an individual has committed the offence of unlawful confinement, something more must be proved than mere knowing "participation" in a general system or operation pursuant to which civilians are confined. In the Appeals Chamber's view, the fact alone of a role in some capacity, however junior, in maintaining a prison in which civilians are unlawfully detained is an inadequate basis on which to find primary criminal responsibility of the nature which is denoted by a finding that someone has committed a crime. Such responsibility is more properly allocated to those who are responsible for the detention in a more direct or complete sense, such as those who actually place an accused in detention without reasonable grounds to believe that he constitutes a security risk; or who, having some powers over the place of detention, accepts a civilian into detention without knowing that such grounds exist; or who, having power or authority to release detainees, fails to do so despite knowledge that no reasonable grounds for their detention exist, or that any such reasons have ceased to exist. In the case of prison guards who are employed or conscripted to supervise detainees, and have no role in the determination of who is detained or released, the Prosecution submits that the presence alone of the camp guards was the "most immediate obstacle to each detainee's liberty" and that the guard's presence in the camp in that capacity alone would therefore constitute commission by them of the crime of unlawful confinement. This, however, poses the question of what such a guard is expected to do under such circumstances. The implication from the Prosecution submissions is that such a guard must release the prisoners. The Appeals Chamber, however, does not accept that a guard's omission to take unauthorised steps to release prisoners will suffice to constitute the commission of the crime of unlawful confinement. The Appeals Chamber also finds it difficult to accept that such a guard must cease to supervise those detained in the camp to avoid such liability, particularly in light of the fact that among the detainees there may be persons who are lawfully confined because they genuinely do pose a threat to the security of the State.
343. It is not necessary for present purposes for the Appeals Chamber to attempt an exhaustive definition of the circumstances which will establish that the offence is committed, but it suffices to observe that such liability is reserved for persons responsible in a more direct or complete sense for the civilian's unlawful detention. Lesser degrees of directness of participation obviously remain relevant to liability as an accomplice or a participant in a joint criminal enterprise, which concepts are best understood by reference first to what will establish primary liability for an offence.
344. In relation to accomplice liability, the Prosecution contends that, "[i]n the case of the crime of unlawful confinement of civilians under Article 2(g) of the Statute, a person who, for instance, instigates or aids and abets may not ever be in a position to affect the continued detention of the civilians concerned." The Prosecution also observes that many of the crimes within the Tribunal's jurisdiction may in practice be committed jointly by a number of persons if they have the requisite mens rea and that the crime of unlawful confinement is a clear example of this as "it was the various camp guards and administrators, acting jointly, who collectively ran the camp and kept the victims confined within it."
345. Although it did not explicitly discuss as a discrete legal matter the exact principles by which individuals will be held individually criminally responsible for the unlawful confinement of civilians, the Trial Chamber did, earlier in its Judgement, discuss the general principles relating to criminal responsibility under Article 7(1) of the Statute. It cited the following statement from the Trial Chamber in the Tadic Judgement which the Celebici Trial Chamber considered to state accurately "the scope of individual criminal responsibility under Article 7(1)":
[...] the accused will be found criminally culpable for any conduct where it is determined that he knowingly participated in the commission of an offence that violates international humanitarian law and his participation directly and substantially affected the commission of that offence through supporting the actual commission before, during, or after the incident. He will also be responsible for all that naturally results from the commission of the act in question.
This statement, from its context in the Tadic Trial Judgement, although broadly expressed, appears to have been intended to refer to liability for aiding and abetting or all forms of accomplice liability rather than all forms of individual criminal responsibility under Article 7(1) including primary or direct responsibility. In the case of primary or direct responsibility, where the accused himself commits the relevant act or omission, the qualification that his participation must "directly and substantially affect the commission of the offence" is an unnecessary one. The Trial Chamber, in referring to the ability to "affect the continued detention" of the civilians, appears to have been providing a criterion to enable the identification of the person who could have a "direct and substantial effect" on the commission of unlawful confinement of civilians in the sense of the Tadic statement.
346. It may have been clearer had the Trial Chamber set out expressly its understanding of the relevant principles in relation to the establishment of primary or direct responsibility for the offence of unlawful confinement of civilians, in relation to which the general principles of accomplice liability set out earlier in its Judgement would also be applied. However, the Appeals Chamber does not consider that these submissions establish that the Trial Chamber erred in stating that an accused must be in a position to affect the continued detention of the civilians if this is understood, as the Appeals Chamber does, to mean that they must have participated in some significant way in the continued detention of the civilians, whether to a degree which would establish primary responsibility, or to a degree necessary to establish liability as an accomplice or pursuant to a common plan. The particular submissions the Prosecution makes in support of its contention that Delalic and Delic should have been convicted under Article 7(1) for the offence are now considered.
(a) Delalic 347. The Prosecution alleges that Delalic should have been found guilty for aiding and abetting the offence of unlawful confinement. Delalic argues that the Indictment did not charge him with aiding and abetting in Count 48 and that, even if it were to be accepted that he was so charged, the evidence did not show beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty as an aider and abettor.
348. The Prosecution responds that Delalic was charged with aiding and abetting in Count 48 of the Indictment by the use of the word "participation". Delalic contends however that "when the Prosecutor intends to charge aiding and abetting it is done so specifically", and he advances some examples of other indictments before the Tribunal that charge aiding and abetting for the offence of unlawful confinement. Delalic refers to Articles 18(4) and 21(4)(a) of the Statute which require that the indictment contain "a concise statement of the facts and the crime or crimes with which the accused is charged under the Statute" and that an accused must be informed of the nature and cause of the charge against him.
349. The Appeals Chamber notes that the alleged offence of unlawful confinement is charged in count 48 of the Indictment as follows:
Between May and October 1992, Zejnil DELALIC, Zdravko MUCIC, and Hazim DELIC participated in the unlawful confinement of numerous civilians at Celebici camp. Zejnil DELALIC, Zrdavko MUCIC, and Hazim DELIC also knew or had reason to know that persons in positions of subordinate authority to them were about to commit those acts resulting in the unlawful confinement of civilians, or had already committed those acts, and failed either to take the necessary and reasonable steps to prevent those acts or to punish the perpetrators after the acts had been committed. By their acts and omissions, Zejnil DELALIC, Zdravko MUCIC, and Hazim DELIC are responsible for:
Count 48. A Grave Breach punishable under Article 2(g) (unlawful confinement of civilians) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
Article 7 (1) does not contain the wording used in the Indictment of "participating", but the Prosecution contends that it is evident that a person can participate in a crime through any of the types of conduct referred to in that provision.
350. The Appeals Chamber notes that the language used in Count 48 could (and should) have been expressed with greater precision. Although the accused are clearly charged under both Article 7(1) and Article 7(3) of the Statute, no particular head of Article 7(1) is indicated. The Appeals Chamber has already referred to the difficulties which arise from the failure of the Prosecution to identify exactly the type of responsibility alleged against an accused, and has recommended that the Prosecution "indicate in relation to each individual count precisely and expressly the particular nature of the responsibility alleged". However, it was also accepted in that case that the general reference to the terms of Article 7(1) was, in that context, an adequate basis on which to find that the accused had been charged with aiding and abetting.
351. In relation to use of the word "participate" to describe forms of responsibility, the Appeals Chamber notes that the Report of the Secretary-General mentions the word "participate" in the context of individual criminal responsibility:
The Secretary-General believes that all persons who participate in the planning, preparation or execution of serious violations of international humanitarian law in the former Yugoslavia contribute to the commission of the violation and are, therefore, individually responsible.
It is clear that Article 7 (1) of the Statute encompasses various modes of participation, some more direct than other. The word "participation" here is a broad enough term to encompass all forms of responsibility which are included within Article 7(1) of the Statute. Although greater specificity in drafting indictments is desirable, failure to identify expressly the exact mode of participation is not necessarily fatal to an indictment if it nevertheless makes clear to the accused the "nature and cause of the charge against him". There has been no suggestion that a complaint was made prior to the trial that Delalic did not know the case that he had to meet. It is too late to make the complaint now on appeal that the Indictment was inadequate to advise the accused that all such forms of responsibility were alleged. The use of the word "participate" is poor drafting, but it should have been understood here as including all forms of participation referred to in Article 7(1) given that superior responsibility was expressed to be an additional form of responsibility.
352. The Trial Chamber therefore correctly interpreted Count 48 of the Indictment and the supporting paragraph as charging the three accused generally with participation in the unlawful confinement of civilians pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute, as well as with responsibility as superiors pursuant to Article 7(3) of the Statute. The Trial Chamber had earlier defined aiding and abetting as:
[including] all acts of assistance that lend encouragement or support to the perpetration of an offence and which are accompanied by the requisite mens rea. Subject to the caveat that it be found to have contributed to, or have had an effect on, the commission of the crime, the relevant act of assistance may be removed both in time and place from the actual commission of the offence.
The Prosecution does not challenge that definition. Subject to the observation that the acts of assistance, encouragement or support must have a substantial effect on the perpetration of the crime, the Appeals Chamber also accepts the statement as accurate.
353. As noted above, in its conclusions in relation to the liability of Delalic and Delic under Article 7(1) for the offence of unlawful confinement, the Trial Chamber referred to its earlier findings made in the context of its consideration of their liability as superiors pursuant to Article 7(3) of the Statute. Although those findings were being made for the primary purpose of determining whether superior responsibility was being exercised, it is clear that they involved a broad consideration by the Trial Chamber of the nature of the involvement of the two accused in the affairs of the Celebici camp. The Prosecution indeed contends that the findings made by the Trial Chamber provided an adequate basis on which to determine Delalic's liability for aiding and abetting.
354. The Trial Chamber considered the evidence in relation to the placing of civilians in detention at the camp, but it made no finding that Delalic participated in their arrest or in placing them in detention in the camp. The Prosecution advances no argument that the Trial Chamber erred in this respect.
355. However, the Prosecution argues that Delalic participated in the continued detention of civilians as an aider and abettor. The Trial Chamber found that there was "no evidence that the Celebici prison-camp came under Delalic's authority by virtue of his appointment as co-ordinator". The Trial Chamber found that the primary responsibility of Delalic in his position as co-ordinator was to provide logistical support for the various formations of the armed forces; that these consisted of, inter alia, supplies of material, equipment, food, communications equipment, railroad access, transportation of refugees and the linking up of electricity grids.
These findings as to the scope of Delalic's role obviously supported its later conclusion that he was not in a position to affect the continued detention of the civilians at the Celebici camp.
356. The Prosecution, however, refers to two specific matters which it says constituted aiding and abetting by Delalic: his role in "publicly justifying and defending the purpose and legality of the camp", and his "participation in the classification and releasing of prisoners".
357. The Prosecution contends that the evidence before the Trial Chamber showed that Delalic was involved in the release of Doctor Gruba~ and Witness P in July 1992, and that he signed orders on 24 and 28 August 1992 for the classification of detainees and their release. However, the Trial Chamber explicitly found that:
As co-ordinator, Zejnil Delalic had no authority to release prisoners.
The Trial Chamber found that the orders referred to by the Prosecution were not signed in Delalic's capacity as "co-ordinator", as all documents were signed "for" the Head of the Investigating Body of the War Presidency. He had no independent authority to do so.
358. The Appeals Chamber considers that this conclusion has not been shown to be so unreasonable that no reasonable trier of fact could have reached it. The Trial Chamber interpreted those orders explicitly as not constituting evidence that he exercised superior responsibility in relation to the camp. The Trial Chamber appears to have interpreted the orders as being, although indicative of some degree of involvement in the continuing detention or release of detainees, inadequate to establish a degree of participation that would be sufficient to constitute a substantial effect on the continuing detention which would be adequate for the purposes of aiding and abetting. The Appeals Chamber considers that this interpretation of the significance of the orders was open to the Trial Chamber.
359. The Prosecution's submission that the Trial Chamber erred in failing to find that Delalic aided and abetted the commission of the offence of unlawful confinement by publicly justifying and defending the purpose of the camp must be rejected for similar reasons. The Trial Chamber referred to the evidence that Delalic had contacts with the ICRC, and that he had been interviewed by journalists in relation to the camp. Even if it could be accepted that this reference alone constituted a finding by the Trial Chamber that these contacts and interviews occurred, it was open to the Trial Chamber to find that any supportive effect that this had in relation to the detention of civilians in the camp was inadequate to be characterised as having a substantial effect on the commission of the crime.
360. The Prosecution has not referred to any other evidence before the Trial Chamber which would indicate that a finding of guilt for Delalic on this count was the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn, a matter which must be established before an acquittal would be overturned on appeal. The Prosecution's third ground of appeal must therefore be dismissed in its entirety.
(b) Delic 361. The Prosecution submits that Delic should have been found guilty under Article 7(1), although its written or oral submissions again emphasise the concept of "participation" and do not clearly identify exactly what mode of participation it contends the Trial Chamber should have found had been established.
362. The Trial Chamber found no evidence which demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that Delic had any role in the creation of the camp, in the arrest and placing in detention of the civilians. Delic argues that it has not been established that he exercised any role in the decision to detain or release prisoners.
363. Although Delic belonged to the military police of the joint command of the TO and HVO, which the Trial Chamber found had been involved in the creation of the camp, there was no finding by the Trial Chamber that Delic in his position had authority to detain or release civilians or even that as a practical matter he could affect who should be detained or released. The Prosecution does not refer to any evidence which would have established such a finding beyond reasonable doubt. The Trial Chamber did find that the evidence established that Delic was "tasked with assisting Zdravko Mucic by organising and arranging for the daily activities in the Celebici prison-camp."
364. Although the Prosecution appears to contend that the evidence established Delic's primary responsibility for commission of the offence of unlawful confinement of civilians, it does not refer to any evidence which establishes more than that he was aware of the unlawfulness of the detention of at least some of the detainees, and that he, as a guard and deputy commander of the camp, thereby participated in the detention of the civilians held there. The Prosecution makes the general submission that:
Clearly, any detainee who had attempted to leave the Celebici camp would have been physically prevented from so doing, not by the person in command of the camp, but by one of the camp guards. The most immediate cause of each detainee's confinement, and the most immediate obstacle to each detainee's liberty, was thus the camp guards. Provided that he or she had the requisite mens rea, each camp guard who participated in the confinement of civilians in the camp, and prevented them from leaving it, will thus be criminally liable on the basis of Article 7(1) for the unlawful confinement of civilians, whether or not the particular guard, under the regime in force in the camp, had any responsibility for determining who would be detained and who would be released.
Insofar as this may suggest that any prison guard who is aware that there are detainees within the camp who were detained without reasonable grounds to suspect that they were a security risk is, without more, responsible for the crime of unlawful confinement, the Appeals Chamber does not accept this submission. As already indicated above, the Appeals Chamber has concluded that a greater degree of involvement in the confinement of an individual is required to establish primary responsibility, and that, even in relation to aiding and abetting, it must be established that the accused's assistance to the principal must have a substantial effect on the commission of the crime. What will satisfy these requirements will depend on the circumstances of the particular case, but the Appeals Chamber would not accept that the circumstance alone of holding a position as a guard somewhere within a camp in which civilians are unlawfully detained suffices to render that guard responsible for the crime of unlawful confinement of civilians. The Prosecution has not referred to particular evidence which would place Delic's involvement in the confinement of the civilians at the Celebici camp at a level higher than the holding of the offices of guard and deputy-commander.
365. It appears from certain other submissions of the Prosecution that, although is does not put its case in this way, it in fact considers that the doctrine of common criminal purpose or joint criminal enterprise is the most apposite form of responsibility to apply to Delic. However it does not identify any findings of the Trial Chamber on the evidence which would establish the necessary elements of criminal liability through participation in a joint criminal enterprise.
366. Although it may be accepted that the only reasonable finding on the evidence, particularly in relation to the nature of some of the detainees at the camp, including elderly persons, must have been that Delic was aware that, in respect of at least some of the detainees, there existed no reasonable grounds to believe that they constituted a security risk, this is not the only matter which must be established in relation to an allegation of participation in a common criminal design. The existence of a common concerted plan, design or purpose between the various participants in the enterprise (including the accused) must also be proved. It is also necessary to establish a specific mens rea, being a shared intent to further the planned crime, an intent to further the common concerted system of ill-treatment, or an intention to participate in and further the joint criminal enterprise, depending on the circumstances of the case. The Prosecution has not pointed to any evidence before the Trial Chamber which would have made the conclusion that these elements had been proved beyond reasonable doubt the only reasonable conclusion on the evidence.
367. As to Delic's relationship to the work of the Military Investigative Commission in charge of granting procedural guarantees to detainees, the Trial Chamber concluded that the role of Delic was to assist Mucic by organising and arranging for detainees to be brought to interrogations. The Trial Chamber made no finding that Delic had participated in the work of the Commission. It also made no finding that Delic himself had either responsibility for ensuring that the procedural review was conducted, or authority or power to release detainees, a power which should have been exercised when the appropriate reviews were not conducted.
368. The Appeals Chamber is satisfied that it was open to the Trial Chamber to assess the evidence before it as not proving beyond reasonable doubt that Delic's acts and omissions constituted any adequate form of "participation" in the offence of unlawful confinement for the purpose of ascribing criminal responsibility under Article 7(1).
369. The Appeals Chamber therefore finds that the Prosecution has not established that the Trial Chamber's conclusion that Delic was not guilty under Article 7 (1) for the offence of unlawful confinement was unreasonable.
C. Mucic's Appeal
370. Mucic, in support of this ground of appeal, adopted "as a substantive appeal against conviction on Count 48" the closing submissions made on behalf of Delalic at trial and made only a limited number of his own submissions on this ground. The Prosecution submits that, as these "incorporated" arguments were filed before the Trial Chamber's Judgement was rendered, they should not be considered.
371. The task of the Appeals Chamber, as defined by Article 25 of the Statute, is to hear appeals from the decisions of Trial Chambers on the grounds of an error on a question of law invalidating the decision or of an error of fact which has occasioned a miscarriage of justice. An appellant must show how the Trial Chamber erred in law or in fact, and the Appeals Chamber expects their submissions to be directed to that end. The submissions "incorporated" by Mucic provide no assistance on the aspects of his ground of appeal which allege an error of fact. However, to the extent that the submissions are relevant to the questions of law raised by Mucic's ground of appeal, the Appeals Chamber has considered them in addition to the submissions made by counsel for Mucic at the hearing of the appeal.
372. Mucic challenges his conviction for the offence of illegal detention or unlawful confinement first with the argument that the detainees of the camp were lawfully confined because of suspicion of inciting armed rebellion against the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Appeals Chamber has already considered the submission that the Trial Chamber erred in finding that at least some of the detainees were unlawfully confined, and has rejected it.
373. Mucic then submits that it was not proved that he had the requisite mens rea because:
Given that it is not remotely suggested that the Appellant has, or had, any expert or other knowledge of International Law, it would be a counsel of impossible perfection to conclude that in 1992 he could have known, or did know, that there was a possibility that the confinement of persons at Celebici could, or would be, construed as illegal under an interpretation of an admixture of the Geneva Conventions and Article 2(g) of the Statute of the Tribunal, a Statute not then in existence.
374. The Prosecution notes that it is unclear whether Mucic contends that the knowledge of the law is an element of the crime or whether Mucic is raising a defence of error of law. In either of those cases, the Prosecution argues that there is no general principle of criminal law that knowledge of the law is an element of the mens rea of a crime and that no defence of mistake of law is available under international humanitarian law. These submissions miss the real issue raised by Mucic's submission — that he could not have been expected to know that the detention of the Celebici detainees would become illegal at some future time. Mucic's submission has no merit because it is clear from the provisions cited above from Geneva Convention IV that the detention of those persons was illegal at the very time of their detention.
375. Mucic also argued that it was not his function as "prison administrator" to know whether the detention of the victims was unlawful. At the hearing of the appeal, counsel for Mucic placed greater emphasis on the argument that Mucic did not in fact have the requisite mens rea for a conviction under Article 7(1) of the Statute, and that the Trial Chamber relied upon evidence which established only that he "had reason to know" as a basis for a positive finding that he did in fact have the requisite knowledge that the detainees were unlawfully detained. The Prosecution argues that, because Mucic knew of the types of people detained in the camp and the circumstances of their arrest, he had the mens rea for the commission of the offence.
376. The Trial Chamber found that Mucic, by virtue of his position of command, was the individual with primary responsibility for, and had the ability to affect, the continued detention of civilians in the camp. Mucic submits in this regard that the determination of the legality of the detention is not a function or duty of prison administrators but rather of those who authorize arrests and the placing of arrestees into detention. The Appeals Chamber accepts that it is not open simply to conclude that, because of a position of superior authority somewhere in relation to a prison camp, an accused is also directly responsible under Article 7(1) for the offence of unlawful confinement committed anywhere in that camp. The particular circumstances entailing liability under Article 7 (1) have to be specifically established before liability could be imposed. This depends on the particular organisation of duties within a camp, and it is a matter to be determined on the evidence.
377. The Trial Chamber found that some detainees were possibly legally detained ab initio but found that some other detainees were not. The Trial Chamber made no finding that Mucic ordered, instigated, planned or otherwise aided and abetted the process of the arrest and placement of civilians in detention in the camp. However, as observed above, there is a second means by which the offence of unlawful confinement can be committed. The detention of detainees without granting the procedural guarantees required by Article 43 of Geneva Convention IV also constitutes the offence of unlawful confinement, whether the civilians were originally lawfully detained or not. It was this aspect of the offence that the Trial Chamber was relying on when it held:
Specifically, Zdravko Mucic, in this position, [i.e. of superior authority over the camp ] had the authority to release detainees. By omitting to ensure that a proper enquiry was undertaken into the status of the detainees, and that those civilians who could not lawfully be detained were immediately released, Zdravko Mucic participated in the unlawful confinement of civilians in the Celebici prison-camp.
Thus the Trial Chamber appears to have found Mucic guilty on the basis of the denial of procedural guarantees under the second "category" of this offence, and the Appeals Chamber's consideration will be limited to his liability in that context. The Appeals Chamber first notes that, although Mucic contests whether it was his responsibility as camp commander to know whether the detainees were lawfully detained or not, he does not contest on appeal the Trial Chamber's finding that he had the authority to release prisoners. In any case, the Appeals Chamber notes that the Trial Chamber made reference to a variety of evidence in support of this finding. The Appeals Chamber therefore proceeds on the basis that this finding was open to the Trial Chamber and that it is the relevant one.
378. As is evident from the earlier discussion of the law relating to unlawful confinement, the Appeals Chamber considers that a person in the position of Mucic commits the offence of unlawful confinement of civilians where he has the authority to release civilian detainees and fails to exercise that power, where
- (i)he has no reasonable grounds to believe that the detainees do not pose a real risk to the security of the state; or
- (ii)he knows that they have not been afforded the requisite procedural guarantees (or is reckless as to whether those guarantees have been afforded or not).
379. Where a person who has authority to release detainees knows that persons in continued detention have a right to review of their detention and that they have not been afforded that right, he has a duty to release them. Therefore, failure by a person with such authority to exercise the power to release detainees, whom he knows have not been afforded the procedural rights to which they are entitled, commits the offence of unlawful confinement of civilians, even if he is not responsible himself for the failure to have their procedural rights respected.
380. The Trial Chamber expressly found that the detainees were not afforded the necessary procedural guarantees. It also found that Mucic did in fact have the power to release detainees at the camp. The only remaining question raised by Mucic's ground of appeal is therefore whether the Trial Chamber had found (although it did not refer to it explicitly) that Mucic had the relevant mens rea, i.e., he knew that the detainees had a right to review of their detention but had not been afforded this review or was reckless as to whether they had been afforded it or not. It is not strictly necessary, in relation to an allegation that the offence of unlawful confinement has been committed through noncompliance with the obligation to afford procedural guarantees, to establish that there was also knowledge that the initial detention of the relevant detainees had been unlawful. This is because the obligation to afford procedural guarantees applies to all detainees whether initially lawfully detained or not. However, as is apparent from the discussion below, the Trial Chamber's findings also suggest that it had concluded that Mucic was also aware that no reasonable ground existed for the detention of at least some of the detainees.
381. The Trial Chamber concluded in relation to Mucic that "[b]y omitting to ensure that a proper enquiry was undertaken into the status of the detainees and that those civilians who could not lawfully be detained were immediately released, Zdravko Mucic participated in the unlawful confinement of civilians in the Celebici prison-camp." It is implicit in this finding that Mucic knew that a review of the detainees' detention was required but had not been conducted. There are a number of findings of the Trial Chamber on the evidence before it which support this conclusion.
382. Relevant to Mucic's knowledge of the unlawful nature of the confinement of certain of the detainees (both because of absence of review of detention and, in some cases, of the absence of grounds for the initial detention) is his knowledge of the work of the Military Investigative Commission. As noted above, the Trial Chamber found that a Military Investigative Commission was established by the Konjic Joint Command following a decision by the War Presidency of Konjic to investigate crimes allegedly committed by the detainees prior to their arrival at the Celebici camp, and that the Commission did not have the power to finally decide on the release of wrongfully detained prisoners.
383. The Trial Chamber found that the Commission consisted of five members, one of which was Witness D. The Trial Chamber referred to Witness D's testimony that he worked closely with Mucic in the classification of the detainees in the Celebici camp, and that Mucic had a complete list of the detainees which he brought out for members of the Commission. It is apparent from the context of the Trial Chamber's reference that it accepted that evidence. Witness D also testified that Mucic was present early in June when members of the Commission met to discuss how they would go about their work of the classification of the detainees and consideration for their continued detention or release. It is implicit in these findings as to Mucic's awareness of the work of the Commission, and even of its existence as an independent body with a review function over the camp, that Mucic must have known that such a review was legally required.
384. The Trial Chamber also found that the Commission had prepared a report in June 1992 detailing the "conditions in the prison-camp, including the mistreatment of detainees and the continued incarceration of persons who were peaceful civilians", and the fact that they were unable to correct them. The Trial Chamber cited from the report, which stated, inter alia:
Detainees were maltreated and physically abused by certain guards from the moment they were brought in until the time their statement was taken i.e. until their interview was conducted. Under such circumstances, Commission members were unable to learn from a large number of detainees all the facts relevant for each detainee and the area from which he had been brought in and where he had been captured. [...] Commission members also interviewed persons arrested outside the combat zone; the Commission did not ascertain the reason for these arrests, but these detainees were subjected to the same treatment [...] Persons who had been arrested under such circumstances stayed in detention even after it had been established that they had been detained for no reason and received the same treatment as persons captured in the combat zone [...] Because self-appointed judges have appeared, any further investigation is pointless until these problems are solved.
385. It is obvious from this report, which the Trial Chamber accepted, that there were persons in the camp in respect of whom no reasons existed to justify their detention and that the Commission was not able to perform the necessary review of the detention of the Celebici camp detainees. The Trial Chamber found that, after working for about one month at the prison-camp, the Commission was in fact disbanded at the instigation of its members as early as the end of June 1992. Although the Trial Chamber made no finding that Mucic had read the Commission's report, in view of its findings that Mucic worked closely with the Commission, it is implicit in the findings taken as a whole that Mucic was aware of the matters that the Commission discussed in the report, including the fact that there were civilians there who had been detained without justification, and that the detainees generally had not had their detention properly reviewed. This knowledge can only have been reinforced by the presence in the camp, of which Mucic must have been aware, of detainees of a kind which would have appeared so unlikely to pose a security risk that it must have raised doubts as to whether any reasonable grounds had ever existed for their initial detention. This included elderly persons and persons such as Grozdana Cecez, a 42 year old mother of two children.
386. The Appeals Chamber finds that it was open to the Trial Chamber, from its primary findings (which have not been shown to be unreasonable), to conclude that Mucic, by not using his authority to release detainees whom he knew had not had their detention reviewed and had therefore not received the necessary procedural guarantees, committed the offence of unlawful confinement of civilians and was therefore guilty of the offence pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute.
387. The Appeals Chamber therefore dismisses this ground of appeal.
388. For the foregoing reasons, the Appeals Chamber dismisses the twelfth ground of appeal of Mucic, and the third and sixth grounds of appeal of the Prosecution.
X. SELECTIVE PROSECUTION
596. Landzo alleges that he was the subject of a selective prosecution policy conducted by the Prosecution. He defines a selective prosecution as one "in which the criteria for selecting persons for prosecution are based, not on considerations of apparent criminal responsibility alone, but on extraneous policy reasons, such as ethnicity, gender, or administrative convenience." Specifically, he alleges that he, a young Muslim camp guard, was selected for prosecution, while indictments "against all other Defendants without military rank", who were all "non-Muslims of Serbian ethnicity", were withdrawn by the Prosecution on the ground of changed prosecutorial strategies.
597. The factual background to this contention is that the Prosecutor decided in 1998 to seek the withdrawal of the indictments against fourteen accused who at that stage had neither been arrested nor surrendered to the Tribunal. This application was granted by Judges of the Tribunal in early May 1998. At that stage, the trial in the present proceedings had been underway for a period of over twelve months. The Prosecutor's decision and the grant of leave to withdraw the indictment was announced in a Press Release, which explained the motivation for the decision in the following terms:
Over recent months there has been a steady increase in the number of accused who have either been arrested or who have surrendered voluntarily to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.[...].
The arrest and surrender process has been unavoidably piecemeal and sporadic and it appears that this is likely to continue. One result of this situation is that accused, who have been jointly indicted, must be tried separately, thereby committing the Tribunal to a much larger than anticipated number of trials.
In light of that situation, I have re-evaluated all outstanding indictments vis-a-vis the overall investigative and prosecutorial strategies of my Office. Consistent with those strategies, which involve maintaining an investigative focus on persons holding higher levels of responsibility, or on those who have been personally responsible for the [sic] exceptionally brutal or otherwise extremely serious offences, I decided that it was appropriate to withdraw the charges against a number of accused in what have become known as the Omarska and-Keraterm indictments, which were confirmed in February 1995 and July 1995 respectively.
Although counsel for Landzo submitted that the Prosecution sought and obtained the withdrawal of indictments against sixteen accused, "some of whom were already in custody" of the Tribunal at the relevant time, this was not the case. Although three people were released from the custody of the Tribunal on 19 December 1997 pursuant to a decision granting the Prosecutor's request to withdraw their indictment, the withdrawal of those indictments was based on the quite different consideration of insufficiency of evidence. Landzo does not appear to have intended to refer to the withdrawal of any indictments other than those referred to in the Press Release, and the submissions proceeded upon that basis.
598. Landzo accordingly submitted, first at trial and now on appeal, that, because the indictment against him was not also withdrawn, he was singled out for prosecution for an impermissible motive and that this selective prosecution contravened his right to a fair trial as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Statute. Citing a decision of the United States of America's Supreme Court, Yick Wo v Hopkins, and Article 21(3) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Landzo submits that the guarantee of a fair trial under Article 21(1) of the Statute incorporates the principle of equality and that prohibition of selective prosecution is a general principle of customary international criminal law.
599. The Trial Chamber, in its sentencing considerations, referred to Landzo's argument that, because he was an ordinary soldier rather than a person of authority, he should not be subject to the Tribunal's jurisdiction, and then stated:
[The Trial Chamber] does, however, note that the statement issued in May this year (1998) by the Tribunal Prosecutor concerning the withdrawal of charges against several indicted persons, quoted by the Defence, indicates that an exception to the new policy of maintaining the investigation and indictment only of persons in positions of some military or political authority, is made for those responsible for exceptionally brutal or otherwise extremely serious offences. From the facts established and the findings of guilt made in the present case, the conduct of Esad Landzo would appear to fall within this exception.
600. The Prosecution argues that the Prosecutor has a broad discretion in deciding which cases should be investigated and which persons should be indicted. In exercising this discretion, the Prosecutor may have regard to a wide range of criteria. It is impossible, it is said, to prosecute all persons placed in the same position and, because of this, the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal is made concurrent with the jurisdiction of national courts by Article 9 of the Statute.
601. Article 16 of the Statute entrusts the responsibility for the conduct of investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1 January 1991 to the Prosecutor. Once a decision has been made to prosecute, subject to the requirement that the Prosecutor be satisfied that a prima facie case exists, Article 18 and 19 of the Statute require that an indictment be prepared and transmitted to a Judge of a Trial Chamber for review and confirmation if satisfied that a prima facie case has been established by the Prosecutor. Once an indictment is confirmed, the Prosecutor can withdraw it prior to the initial appearance of the accused only with the leave of the Judge who confirmed it, and after the initial appearance only with the leave of the Trial Chamber.
602. In the present context, indeed in many criminal justice systems, the entity responsible for prosecutions has finite financial and human resources and cannot realistically be expected to prosecute every offender which may fall within the strict terms of its jurisdiction. It must of necessity make decisions as to the nature of the crimes and the offenders to be prosecuted. It is beyond question that the Prosecutor has a broad discretion in relation to the initiation of investigations and in the preparation of indictments. This is acknowledged in Article 18(1) of the Statute, which provides:
The Prosecutor shall initiate investigations exofficio or on the basis of information obtained from any source, particularly from Governments, United Nations organs, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations. The Prosecutor shall assess the information received or obtained and decide whether there is sufficient basis to proceed.
It is also clear that a discretion of this nature is not unlimited. A number of limitations on the discretion entrusted to the Prosecutor are evident in the Tribunal's Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
603. The Prosecutor is required by Article 16(2) of the Statute to "act independently as a separate organ of the International Tribunal", and is prevented from seeking or receiving instructions from any government or any other source. Prosecutorial discretion must therefore be exercised entirely independently, within the limitations imposed by the Tribunal's Statute and Rules. Rule 37(A) provides that the Prosecutor "shall perform all the functions provided by the Statute in accordance with the Rules and such Regulations, consistent with the Statute and the Rules, as may be framed by the Prosecutor."
604. The discretion of the Prosecutor at all times is circumscribed in a more general way by the nature of her position as an official vested with specific duties imposed by the Statute of the Tribunal. The Prosecutor is committed to discharge those duties with full respect of the law. In this regard, the Secretary-General's Report stressed that the Tribunal, which encompasses all of its organs, including the Office of the Prosecutor, must abide by the recognised principles of human rights.
605. One such principle is explicitly referred to in Article 21(1) of the Statute, which provides:
All persons shall be equal before the International Tribunal.
This provision reflects the corresponding guarantee of equality before the law found in many international instruments, including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. All these instruments provide for a right to equality before the law, which is central to the principle of the due process of law. The provisions reflect a firmly established principle of international law of equality before the law, which encompasses the requirement that there should be no discrimination in the enforcement or application of the law. Thus Article 21 and the principle it embodies prohibits discrimination in the application of the law based on impermissible motives such as, inter alia, race, colour, religion, opinion, national or ethnic origin. The Prosecutor, in exercising her discretion under the Statute in the investigation and indictment of accused before the Tribunal, is subject to the principle of equality before the law and to this requirement of non-discrimination.
606. This reflects principles which apply to prosecutorial discretion in certain national systems. In the United Kingdom, the limits on prosecutorial discretion arise from the more general principle, applying to the exercise of administrative discretion generally, that the discretion is to be exercised in good faith for the purpose for which it was conferred and not for some ulterior, extraneous or improper purpose. In the United States, where the guarantee of equal protection under the law is a constitutional one, the court may intervene where the accused demonstrates that the administration of a criminal law is "directed so exclusively against a particular class of persons [...] with a mind so unequal and oppressive" that the prosecutorial system amounts to "a practical denial" of the equal protection of the law.
607. The burden of the proof rests on Landzo, as an appellant alleging that the Prosecutor has improperly exercised prosecutorial discretion, to demonstrate that the discretion was improperly exercised in relation to him. Landzo must therefore demonstrate that the decision to prosecute him or to continue his prosecution was based on impermissible motives, such as race or religion, and that the Prosecution failed to prosecute similarly situated defendants.
608. The Prosecution submits that, in order to demonstrate a selective prosecution, Landzo must show that he had been singled out for an impermissible motive, so that the mere existence of similar unprosecuted acts is not enough to meet the required threshold.
609. Landzo submits that a test drawn from United States case-law, and in particular the case United States of America v Armstrong, provides the required threshold for selective prosecution claims. Pursuant to this test, the complainant must prove first that he was singled out for prosecution for an improper motive, and secondly, that the Prosecutor elected not to prosecute other similarly situated defendants. There is therefore no significant difference between the applicable standards identified by Landzo and by the Prosecution.
610. As observed by the Prosecution, the test relied on by Landzo in United States of America v Armstrong, puts a heavy burden on an appellant. To satisfy this test, Landzo must demonstrate clear evidence of the intent of the Prosecutor to discriminate on improper motives, and that other similarly situated persons were not prosecuted. Other jurisdictions which recognise an ability for judicial review of a prosecutorial discretion also indicate that the threshold is a very high one.
611. It is unnecessary to select between such domestic standards, as it is not appropriate for the Appeals Chamber simply to rely on the jurisprudence of any one jurisdiction in determining the applicable legal principles. The provisions of the Statute referred to above and the relevant principles of international law provide adequate guidance in the present case. The breadth of the discretion of the Prosecutor, and the fact of her statutory independence, imply a presumption that the prosecutorial functions under the Statute are exercised regularly. This presumption may be rebutted by an appellant who can bring evidence to establish that the discretion has in fact not been exercised in accordance with the Statute; here, for example, in contravention of the principle of equality before the law in Article 21. This would require evidence from which a clear inference can be drawn that the Prosecutor was motivated in that case by a factor inconsistent with that principle. Because the principle is one of equality of persons before the law, it involves a comparison with the legal treatment of other persons who must be similarly situated for such a comparison to be a meaningful one. This essentially reflects the two-pronged test advocated by Landzo and by the Prosecution of (i) establishing an unlawful or improper (including discriminatory) motive for the prosecution and (ii) establishing that other similarly situated persons were not prosecuted.
612. Landzo argues that he was the only Bosnian Muslim accused without military rank or command responsibility held by the Tribunal, and he contends that he was singled out for prosecution "simply because he was the only person the Prosecutor's office could find to 'represent' the Bosnian Muslims". He was, it is said, prosecuted to give an appearance of "evenhandedness" to the Prosecutor's policy. Landzo alleges that the Prosecutor's decision to seek the withdrawal of indictments against the accused identified in the Press Release, without seeking the discontinuation of the proceedings against Landzo, was evidence of a discriminatory purpose. Landzo rejects the justification given by the Prosecutor in the Press Release of a revaluation of indictments according to changed strategies "in light of the decision to except the one Muslim defendant without military rank or command responsibility from the otherwise complete dismissal of charges against Defendants having that status."
613. The Prosecution argues that a change of prosecutorial tactics, in view of the need to reassign available resources of the Prosecution, cannot be considered as being significative of discriminatory intent. Furthermore, the evidence of discriminatory intent must be coupled with the evidence that the Prosecutor's policy had a discriminatory effect, so that other similarly-situated individuals of other ethnic or religious backgrounds were not prosecuted. The Prosecution observes that those against whom charges were withdrawn had not yet been arrested or surrendered to the Tribunal, whereas Land'o was in custody and his case already mid-trial. The Prosecution adds that even if it was to be considered that the continuation of Landzo's trial resulted in him being singled out, it was in any event for the commission of exceptionally brutal or otherwise serious offences.
614. The crimes of which Landzo was convicted are described both in the Trial Judgement and in the present judgement at paragraphs 565-570. The Appeals Chamber considers that, in light of the unquestionably violent and extreme nature of these crimes, it is quite clear that the decision to continue the trial against Landzo was consistent with the stated policy of the Prosecutor to "focus on persons holding higher levels of responsibility, or on those who have been personally responsible for the exceptionally brutal or otherwise extremely serious offences." A decision, made in the context of a need to concentrate prosecutorial resources, to identify a person for prosecution on the basis that they are believed to have committed exceptionally brutal offences can in no way be described as a discriminatory or otherwise impermissible motive.
615. Given the failure of Landzo to adduce any evidence to establish that the Prosecution had a discriminatory or otherwise unlawful or improper motive in indicting or continuing to prosecute him, it is not strictly necessary to have reference to the additional question of whether there were other similarly situated persons who were not prosecuted or against whom prosecutions were discontinued. However, the facts in relation to this question support the conclusion already drawn that Landzo was not the subject of a discriminatory selective prosecution.
616. All of the fourteen accused against whom charges were withdrawn pursuant to the Prosecutor's change of policy, unlike Landzo, had not been arrested and were not in the custody of the Tribunal. None of the fourteen persons identified in the Press Release as the subject of the withdrawn indictments had been arrested or surrendered to the Tribunal so were not in the Tribunal's custody.
617. At the time at which the decision was taken to withdraw the indictments on the basis of changed prosecutorial strategy, the trial of Landzo and his coaccused had been underway for over twelve months. None of the persons in respect of whom the indictments were withdrawn were facing trial at the time. These practical considerations alone, which demonstrate an important difference in the situation of Landzo and the persons against whom indictments were withdrawn, also provide the rational justification for the Prosecutor's decisions at the time. The Appeals Chamber notes that the Prosecutor explicitly stated that accused against whom charges were withdrawn could still be tried at a later stage by the Tribunal or by national courts by virtue of the principle of concurrent jurisdiction. Had Landzo been released with the leave of the Trial Chamber, he would have been subject to trial upon the same or similar charges in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
618. Finally, even if in the hypothetical case that those against whom the indictments were withdrawn were identically situated to Landzo, the Appeals Chamber cannot accept that the appropriate remedy would be to reverse the convictions of Landzo for the serious offences with which he had been found guilty. Such a remedy would be an entirely disproportionate response to such a procedural breach. As noted by the Trial Chamber, it cannot be accepted that "unless all potential indictees who are similarly situated are brought to justice, there should be no justice done in relation to a person who has been indicted and brought to trial".
619. This ground of appeal is therefore dismissed.
"Celebici." Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 22, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/celebici
"Celebici." Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. . Retrieved January 22, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/celebici