National Implementation of IHL
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Paunovic case, Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 27 October 2006
Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina,  (last accessed on 23.09.2013)

On 27 October 2006, the Appellate Division Panel of Section I for War Crimes of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) upheld the first instance verdict of the court, which had found the accused guilty of crimes against humanity. The court ruled that the accused had ordered and taken part in the persecution of Bosniak civilians on political, national, ethnic, cultural and religious grounds, by carrying out murders and other inhumane acts. The accused contested the verdict, alleging that essential provisions of criminal procedure, of the Constitution of BiH, and of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, including the right of the accused to a fair trial, had been violated. One of the legal issues raised by the defence was whether the first instance panel had been correct to accept as proven a related prior finding – of a widespread and systematic attack against non-Serb civilians – by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The appellate panel concluded that the first instance court had acted in compliance with the laws on the transfer of cases from the ICTY to the prosecutor's office of BiH and on the use of evidence collected by the ICTY in proceedings before the courts in BiH. The appellate panel also found that the application to the case of the 2003 criminal code of BiH and its system of penalties – although adopted after the commission of the crimes under consideration – had not violated the principle of legality. The panel based its decision on its judgment that the alleged criminal acts, at the time of their commission, had been criminal "according to the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations." It concluded that, contrary to the arguments set out in the appeal, the first instance panel had correctly established the criminal liability of the accused and that the sentence of long-term imprisonment fit the gravity of the crime and the role that the accused had played in it.

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application/pdf 465 KB Paunovic case - Decision of 27 October 2006.pdf