skip navigation

The Prosecutor v. Momčilo Krajišnik

Court International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Appeals Chamber, The Netherlands
Case number IT-00-39-A
Decision title Judgement (public)
Decision date 17 March 2009
  • The Prosecutor
  • Momčilo Krajišnik
Categories Crimes against humanity
Keywords common objective, crimes against humanity, deportation, extermination, inhumane acts, joint criminal enterprise, Murder, persecution, Self-representation
Other countries involved
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
back to top


Momčilo Krajišnik was found guilty by Trial Chamber I on multiple counts of crimes against humanity for his role in the 1991-1992 events in municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He appealed the decision, representing himself. The Appeals Chamber appointed a counsel as amicus curiae (friend of the Court) to assist his case through the filing of an additional appeal in order to represent Krajišnik's interests.

The Appeals Chamber held that Trial Chamber I made errors with respect to the expansion of the crimes forming part of the joint criminal enterprise of the perpetrators and the manner in which Krajišnik could be held liable for them. Therefore, it acquitted Krajišnik of murder, extermination and persecution as crimes against humanity.

The Appeals Chamber rejected the arguments of the Prosecution, in which the latter argued that the sentence was not properly determined by Trial Chamber I, and should be raised to life imprisonment.

In light of the acquittals on several counts, the Appeals Chamber reduced Krajišnik's sentence from 27 years to 20 years of imprisonment.

back to top

Procedural history

The amended consolidated indictment was issued on 7 March 2002. The trial commenced on 3 February 2004 and judgment was rendered on 27 September 2006.

back to top

Related developments

On 7 September 2009, Krajišnik was transferred to the United Kingdom to serve his sentence (see ICTY, ‘Momčilo Krajišnik Transferred To The United Kingdom To Serve Sentence’, ICTY Press Release, 8 September 2009).

back to top

Legally relevant facts

In its judgment of 27 September 2006, Trial Chamber I found that Krajišnik participated in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE) that aimed at reducing the non-Serb population of 35 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina between July 1991 and December 1992. Subsequently, the Chamber convicted him of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, and inhumane acts as crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 27 years of imprisonment (paras. 3-4).

All parties appealed the decision. Krajišnik was authorized to represent himself. He challenged the findings of Trial Chamber I, requesting to be acquitted of all convictions (paras. 5-7).

The Appeals Chamber invited an amicus curiae to assist in representing the interests of Krajišnik. He was requested to “make submissions...similar to those which a party would make”. The amicus curiae requested that the convictions of Krajišnik be quashed, or a re-trial ordered in the alternative (paras. 8-9).

The Prosecution brought one ground of appeal in which it argued that the punishment imposed by Trial Chamber I was inadequate, and requested a sentence to life imprisonment (para. 10).

back to top

Core legal questions

  • Have the findings of Trial Chamber I been erroneous with respect to the convictions of Krajišnik?
  • Can the Appeals Chamber uphold any of the grounds of appeal adduced by the appellants?

back to top

Specific legal rules and provisions

  • Article 25 of the ICTY Statute.
  • Rules 117 and 118 of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

back to top

Court's holding and analysis

The amicus curiae, appointed by the Tribunal, challenged the findings of Trial Chamber I with respect to the expansion of the common objective of the joint criminal enterprise (JCE) to murder, extermination and persecution. The Appeals Chamber held that Trial Chamber I failed to determine when the expanded crimes were added to the JCE, and how they can be attributed to Krajišnik (paras. 170-176). Subsequently, it quashed Krajišnik's conviction on three counts of persecution, extermination and murder (paras. 177-178).

Furthermore, the Appeals Chamber held that Trial Chamber I failed to establish a link between the original perpetrators and the members of the JCE with respect to certain crimes, and this resulted in quashing Krajišnik's conviction on three further counts (paras. 283-284).

The Prosecution argued that the sentence imposed by Trial Chamber I did not adequately reflect the gravity of the committed crimes, and accordingly, requested the imposition of life imprisonment (para. 756 et seq.). The Appeals Chamber disagreed, finding that the Prosecution failed to prove that Trial Chamber I erred in its decision on the sentence (para. 795-6).

Even though some of the convictions were quashed, the Appeals Chamber sentenced Krajišnik to 20 years of imprisonment (para. 819).

back to top

Instruments cited

back to top

Additional materials

back to top

Social media links