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M. v. Barzan al-Tikriti

This case summary is being revised and will be updated soon

Court Federal Department of Defence, Switzerland
Case number 880.9-009
Decision title Décision
Decision date 22 December 2003
  • M.
  • Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti
Categories Crimes against humanity, Genocide
Keywords crimes against humanity, war crimes, complaint admissibility, genocide, Iraq, jurisdiction, principle of non-retroactivity
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Procedural history

A criminal complaint for genocide was filed against him in Switzerland in September 2001 by a refugee. Barzan Ibrahim was suspected of having participated in cruel and repressive measures against the Barzani tribe in 1983 and the systematic use of torture, including rape, for the repression and deportation of ethnic and religious minorities.

On 12 November 2002, the Swiss Public Prosecutor rejected the complaint, considering that Swiss authorities can only act if the Accused is present on Swiss territory. The Swiss Public Prosecutor also considered that the crime of genocide could not be prosecuted for acts which occurred before the entry into force of Art. 264 of the Criminal Code (15 December 2000), due to the nulla poena sine lege principle, and the non-retroactivity of Art. 264.

According to the Swiss proceedings, the case was sent to the Military Chief Prosecutor for further investigation. On 16 April 2003, the Military Prosecutor considered that he had jurisdiction only over war crimes and that the alleged facts did not point to any war crimes having been committed. On 18 March 2003, Switzerland pronounced an unlimited ban on territory against Mr al-Tikriti. Any prosecution was thus barred, since the Accused could not be present on Swiss territory.

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Related developments

On April 17 2003, U.S. officials confirmed that Barzan Ibrahim had been captured. He was transferred into the custody of the Interim Government of Iraq on 30 June 2004. After an initial indictment on 1 July 2004 before the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT), the trial began on 19 October 2005, simultaneously with seven other co-defendants in the Al-Dujail case. During the first court session, Barzan Ibrahim pleaded not guilty. On 5 November 2006, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti was sentenced to death. The Appeals Chamber confirmed this verdict on 26 December 2006. Barzan Ibrahim was executed by hanging on 15 January 2007
See also:
Al-Dujail case (Saddam hussein et al.) before the Iraqi High Tribunal
Al-Anfal case (Ali Hassan al-Majid et al.) before the Iraqi High Tribunal

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Legally relevant facts

Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti is one of the half-brothers of the former Iraqi Head of State, Saddam Hussein. When Saddam Hussein came to power, Barzan Ibrahim was given the position of director in the General Intelligence service. In 1988, Barzan Ibrahim was sent to Switzerland as Iraq’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva until 1998.

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Court's holding and analysis

The appeal before the Swiss Minister of Defence against the decision of the Military Prosecutor was rejected on 22 December 2003.