Prosecutor v. Brđanin

Citation: IT-99-36

Link to the full case: http://www.icty.org/case/brdanin/4

Trial Judgment: 1 September 2004

Appeal Judgment: 3 April 2007


Radoslav Brđanin was a leading Bosnian Serb political figure in the ARK. He eventually became the acting vice-president of the Republika Srpska. He was tried for having planned, instigated, ordered, or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation, or execution of genocide, torture, persecutions, exterminations, deportations, and wanton destruction of the property of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serbs in municipalities and camps and detention facilities that were staffed and operated by military and police personnel under the direction of the VRS in BiH.


Brđanin was charged on the basis of joint criminal enterprise and individual and superior criminal liability, of genocide and complicity in genocide; crimes against humanity for persecutions, exterminations, torture, deportation, and inhumane acts of forcible transfer; grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for willful killing, torture, and wanton destruction of property not justified by military necessity; and violations of the laws or customs of war for wanton destruction of cities or towns not justified by military necessity, and destruction to institutions dedicated to religion.


Brđanin was convicted of individual criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity for persecutions, torture, deportation, and the inhumane acts of forcible transfer; violations of the laws or customs of war for wanton destruction of cities, devastation not justified by military necessity, and destruction or willful damage done to religious institutions; and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for willful killing and torture. However, the Trial Chamber dismissed the theory of superior criminal liability because though Brđanin had de facto control over the municipal authorities and police, he did not have any effective control over these organizations in ways that enabled him to prevent or punish the commission of crimes by those other actors. It also rejected the theory of joint criminal enterprise on the grounds that it was inappropriate given the extraordinarily broad nature of the case and the remoteness of Brđanin from the crimes committed as part of the enterprise.


However, in 2007, the Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber had made an erroneous judgment when it inferred that Brđanin’s failure to prevent torture in the camps and detention facilities had the effect of encouraging other personnel in the camps to commit torture. It also determined that the Trial Chamber had erred when it found that the doctrine of joint criminal enterprise only applied to smaller-scale cases. However, it also determined that it would be unfair to convict Brđanin of new crimes based on this theory. The Trial Chamber sentenced Brđanin to 32 years’ imprisonment. The Appeals Chamber reduced it to 30 years’ imprisonment.

Summary based on notes from the IJRC