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Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Vaso Todorović

Court Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Section I for War Crimes, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Case number X-KR-06/180-1
Decision title Verdict
Decision date 22 October 2008
  • Office of the Prosecutor
  • Vaso Todorović
Categories Crimes against humanity
Keywords crimes against humanity, murder, aiding and abetting, deportation, Forcible transfer
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After the takeover of Srebrenica on 11 July 1995, several thousand Bosniak men fled and attempted to reach Bosnian territory. Many of them were detained and over 1000 men were brought to a warehouse and executed. Vaso Todorović, a former policeman who was involved in capturing and detaining these men and who stood guard as these men were killed, was initially charged with genocide. However, these charges were amended to a charge of crimes against humanity, and Todorović entered into a plea agreement. The Court had to assess whether there was enough evidence for a conviction and whether his plea was credible. After establishing that a widespread or systematic attack against civilians had taken place in Srebrencia, the Court established that Todorović knew about the attack and that his actions should be regarded in the context of the attack. The Court considered proven that Todorović had participated in detaining men in a warehouse, after which he prevented them from escaping their subsequent execution. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

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Procedural history

On 27 May 2008, the prosecutor charged Todorović with the criminal offence of Genocide under Art. 171 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CC BiH), in conjunction with Art. 29 and 180(1) CC BiH. On 23 June 2008, he entered a plea of not guilty. At the main trial, Todorović was heard as a witness, after which the Prosecutor amended the indictment, charging Todorović with the criminal offence of crimes against humanity under Art. 172(1)(a) and (d) in conjunction with Art. 31 of the CC BiH. On 16 October 2008, the accused entered into a plea agreement with the prosecutor’s office. The Court accepted the agreement in its entirety, as it was satisfied that the requirements of a plea agreement under Art. 231 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina were met: Todorović concluded the agreement voluntarily, consciously and with understanding, after he had been informed of possible consequences. The Court was satisfied that there was ample evidence of Todorović’s guilt and that he understood that by the Court accepting his agreement, he waived his right to trial and could not appeal the criminal sanction he would be imposed. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

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Legally relevant facts

During the widespread and systematic attack on the Bosniak population of Srebrenica during the period from 10 July to 19 July 1995, Vaso Todorović was a member of the Special Police of the 2nd Šekovići Detachment. On 12 July 1995, Todorović participated in the search of the Potočari area, aiming to expel and force the Bosniak population to move to the areas controlled by the Serb army. On 13 July, he participated in capturing several thousands of Bosniak men who tried to escape from Srebrenica and in escorting several hundred of captured Bosniak men to the Kravica warehouse. These men were subsequently executed. Todorvić stood guard and prevented the detainees under attack from escaping.

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Core legal questions

Under the plea agreement, Todorović confessed guilt for all criminal offences charged in the indictment. However, the Court still had to evaluate the authenticity of that confession and check whether there was sufficient evidence of Todorović’s guilt. The Court had to assess the evidence to establish whether the actions of the acussed constituted the elements of the criminal offence of crimes against humanitty (murder and deportation/forcible transfer), punishable under Art. 172(1)(a) and (d) CC BiH and whether he bore individual liability for the commission of the offences pursuant to Art. 180(1) (either planning, instigating, ordering, perpetrating or otherwise aiding and abetting) and Art. 31 (accessory) CC BiH. In order to answer these questions, the Court had to establish whether the prosecution had proven that the elements of a crime against humanity had been fulfilled:

1. A widespread or systematic attack directed against the population.

2. A ‘nexus’ between Todorović’s acts and the widespread attack, namely that the prohibited acts were committed as part of the attack and that Todorović had knowledge of this attack.

3. Qualification of Todorović’s acts as deportation and forcible transfer of population and murder.

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Specific legal rules and provisions

Article 172(1)(a)(d) of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CC BiH);

Article 180(1) of the CC BiH;

Article 31 of the CC BiH;

Article 39 of the CC BiH;

Article 231 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Court's holding and analysis

The Court based its findings on three categories of evidence: facts established by the ICTY, Todorović’s statements and other evidence submitted by the prosecutor (p. 5). The Court established that a widespread or systematic attack against civilians was taking place in Srebrenica between 10 and 19 July 1995, in furtherance of a State or organisational plan (pp. 24-25). Todorović testified that he knew of this attack, as his commander issued an order that Todorović’s Detachment should expel the Bosniak women and children from Srebrenica and execute the men. Thus, a nexus existed between Todorović’s acts and the attack against the population (p. 25). These acts consisted of aiding and abetting deportation or forcible transfer and murder. With the aim of illegally expelling the population, Todorović searched the villages and participated in keeping the road open for transport of Bosniaks (p. 25). Also, the Court established that Todorović had escorted Bosniaks to the Kravica warehouse, where he prevented prisoners from escaping their subsequent execution (p. 26). Lastly, the Court established that by acting the way he did, Todorović removed obstacles and supplied perpetrators with means to allow the crimes to be committed. Therefore, he was considered as accessory. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

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Further analysis

The practice of concluding plea agreements at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been questioned, as victims tend to equate these with injustice. Clark examines if this practice could have a negative effect on transitional justice. A commentary on the Kravica massacre trials at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina was provided by Strippoli.

J. N. Clark, ‘The State Court of Bosnia and Hercegovina: a path to reconciliation?’, Contemporary Justice Review: Issues in Criminal, Social, and Restorative Justice, 2010, vol. 13, pp. 371-390.

A. Strippoli, ‘National Courts and Genocide: The Kravica Case at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina’, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 2009, vol. 7, pp. 577-595.

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Instruments cited

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Related cases

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Additional materials

The Court provided case information. provides several reports on this case. See also ‘Srebrenica Indictee in Guilty Plea Deal’ of BalkanInsight, 22 October 2008.

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