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The Prosecutor v. Ranko Češić

Court International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Trial Chamber I, The Netherlands
Case number IT-95-10/1-S
Decision title Sentencing Judgment
Decision date 11 March 2004
  • The Prosecutor
  • Ranko Češić
Categories Crimes against humanity, War crimes
Keywords crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, rape, guilty plea, Brcko
Other countries involved
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Ranko Češić was brought before the ICTY for his role in the commission of crimes in collection centers in the municipality of Brčko (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in May 1992. On 8 October 2003, Češić pleaded guilty to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and subsequently, the Trial Chamber entered a finding of guilt.

In order to assess the appropriate sentence for Češić, Trial Chamber I balanced the gravity of the offences, the aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

With respect to the gravity of the crimes, Trial Chamber I considered that the high number of murders and the violation of the moral and physical integrity of the rape victims were factors that underlined the seriousness of the committed crimes.

Trial Chamber I also found that the vulnerability of the victims, the cruelty and depravity shown during the commission of the crimes and the exacerbated humiliation of the victims were all aggravating factors. Conversely, three mitigating circumstances were accorded relevance, namely, Češić's guilty plea, cooperation with the Prosecution, and his remorse.

Češić was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment.

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Procedural history

The initial indictment was filed against Goran Jelisić and Ranko Češić on 30 June 1995. A third amended indictment, pertaining solely to Ranko Češić was submitted on 26 November 2002.

On 7 October 2003, the Prosecution and Ranko Češić entered into a Plea Agreement.

At a hearing on 8 October 2003, Ranko Češić pleaded guilty to all counts of the third amended indictment. The Trial Chamber entered a finding of guilty on the same day.

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Related developments

On 11 April 2005, Ranko Češić was transferred to Denmark to serve his sentence.

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Legally relevant facts

The events underlying the case have occurred in May 1992 in the municipality of Brčko in North-East Bosnia and Herzegovina. During this time, Ranko Češić was a member of the Bosnian-Serb Territorial Defence in Brčko and a member of the intervention platoon of the Bosnian Serb Police Reserve Corps at the Brčko police station (para. 7).

From 30 April 1992 onwards, the Serb forces in Bosnia commenced the take-over of the municipality of Brčko. The campaign resulted in Muslim and Croat civilians being forcibly expelled and transferred to collection centers. Češić committed the charged crimes during six different incidents in two of these collections centers (para. 8 et seq.).

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Core legal questions

  • Considering the gravity of the offence, the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, what is the appropriate sentence for Ranko Češić?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Article 24 of the ICTY Statute.
  • Rule 101 of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

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Court's holding and analysis

When assessing the gravity of the offences, Trial Chamber I held that “[murder] is an inherently grave offence … [and a] conviction for multiple murders further adds to the seriousness of the crime” (para. 34). Furthermore, “[t]he violation of the moral and physical integrity of the victims justifies that the rape be considered particularly serious as well” (para. 35).

Turning to the aggravating factors, Trial Chamber I held that “[a]ll victims of Ranko Češić were detainees placed under the oversight of Bosnian Serb soldiers or policemen … [and] their vulnerability as detainees in the particular circumstances of the case, is considered an aggravating factor“ (para. 49). In addition, “[t]he cruelty and depravity shown [during the commission of the crimes] are considered aggravating factors” (para. 51). Also, “the crime of rape, although inherently humiliating, places emphasis on the violation of the physical and moral integrity of the victim. Under these circumstances, exacerbated humiliation may be considered in aggravation of this crime” (para. 53).

Turning to the mitigating circumstances, Trial Chamber I accorded relevance to Češić's admission of guilt, his cooperation with the Prosecution and his expression of remorse (paras. 55 et seq.).

Češić was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment.

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Instruments cited

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Additional materials