By Lamija Grebo
The UN court in The Hague rejected former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s request to be allowed to file an appeal against the length of his prison sentence for genocide and other wartime crimes.
The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague on Wednesday said it would not allow an appeal against the length of the life sentence imposed on former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic last month.
“There are no legal grounds in the statute or the rules of the Mechanism on the basis of which Karadzic may appeal the second-instance judgment or its part,” said the decision signed by MICT president Carmel Agius.
Under the decision, the MICT also rejected Karadzic’s request to approve the appointment of a legal counsellor who would help him prepare a request for a reconsideration of last month’s second-instance verdict, which raised his sentence from 40 years in prison to life.
Karadzic filed a motion last week in which he said he considered the Mechanism was in error when it sentenced him to life imprisonment, because it did not take account of “the practices of courts in the former Yugoslavia”, thus violating his human rights.
He also argued that the court failed to offer an explanation of its decision to raise his sentence to life imprisonment from the first-instance sentence of 40 years that was handed down in 2016.
The UN court has so far only reversed a sentence once – in the case of former Yugoslav People’s Army Veselin Sljivancanin, who was convicted over his role in the 1991 Vukovar massacre in Croatia.
The Hague Tribunal’s Chamber of Appeals reduced Sljivancanin’s jail time to from 17 years to 10 years.
The court only agrees to review a sentence if new evidence is presented.
On March 20, the MICT sentenced Karadzic to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war.
He was found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising the civilian population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.
But he was acquitted of genocide in other Bosnian municipalities in 1992.