Departments in the Prosecutor’s Office
Department I (Special Department for War Crimes)
Department I (Special Department for War Crimes)
The Special Department for War Crimes was formed after the issuance of a package of laws adopted by the Parliament of BiH in December 2004. These laws were necessary for the ICTY cases to be prosecuted by national judicial institutions, as well as for taking over the role of the ICTY Rules of the Road Unit which was, prior to its closure, reviewing war crimes cases before national courts could issue a decision to arrest the suspects of war crimes committed in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Special Department for War Crimes is responsible for prosecution of cases of war crimes committed in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 war conflicts.
The Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH commenced its work on 09 March 2005, and inauguration was attended by numerous officials of the BiH judiciary, ICTY, and international community.
As part of the activities of the Special Department for War Crimes, the Collegium of Prosecutors of the BiH Prosecutor’s Office has rendered the Book of Rules on the Review of War Crimes Cases, with the document ”Orientation Criteria for Sensitive Rules of the Road Cases” as its integral part. The purpose of this document is to set guidelines for determining which cases, due to their gravity or status of the perpetrator, have to be prosecuted by the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, and which cases may be referred for further prosecution to Prosecutor’s Offices having subject-matter or territorial jurisdiction. Due to a large number of war crimes cases, it is to be expected that majority of such cases will nevertheless be prosecuted at Cantonal/District level.
The Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH is handling four categories of cases:
· Cases referred to the national jurisdiction by the ICTY, pursuant to the Rule 11bis of its Book of Rules on Procedure and Evidence. These cases have indictments confirmed by the ICTY, but the trial did not commence; however, the ICTY Trial Chamber rendered a final decision to refer this case to national jurisdiction. Paragraph A of the Rule 11bis, inter alia, provides the following:
· “(A) After an indictment has been confirmed and prior to the commencement of trial, irrespective of whether or not the accused is in the custody of the Tribunal, the President may appoint a bench of three Permanent Judges selected from the Trial Chambers (hereinafter referred to as the “Referral Bench”), which solely and exclusively shall determine whether the case should be referred to the authorities of a State:
(i) in whose territory the crime was committed; or
(ii) in which the accused was arrested; or
(iii) having jurisdiction and being willing and adequately prepared to accept such a case, so that those authorities should forthwith refer the case to the appropriate court for trial within that State.
· Cases reviewed by the ICTY Rules of the Road Unit. Those are the cases in which national institutions from Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted investigations, and then referred the cases to the Rules of the Road Unit to obtain the Unit’s opinion, all in order to determine whether there is evidence indicating the existence of the grounds of suspicion that is sufficient for a person to be put in custody.
· Cases of the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor in which investigation was conducted by the ICTY, but no indictment was filed.
· All cases commenced after the expiry of the Rules of the Road Unit’s mandate in October 2004.
Also, in view of its Book of Rules and the “Orientation Criteria for Sensitive Rules of the Road Cases”, the Special Department for War Crimes has to re-examine all the cases of BiH Prosecutor’s Offices that were not referred to the Rules of the Road Unit, in order to determine whether a case is “highly sensitive” (and consequently subject to prosecution before the Court of BiH) or “sensitive” (meaning that the case may be referred for further prosecution to a Prosecutor’s Office with subject-matter and territorial jurisdiction).
In terms of its organization, the Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH carries out its activities through the functioning of six (6) prosecution teams formed on the basis of geographical sand regional structure of BiH.
Team 1 covers the North-West Bosnia region and a part of Posavina;
Team 2 covers the Central Bosnia region;
Team 3 covers the Eastern Bosnia (the Drina Valley) region and a part of Posavina;
Team 5 covers West Herzegovina and the Neretva Valley; and
Special Team 6 covers Srebrenica territory.
DEPUTY CHIEF PROSECUTOR AND HEAD OF DEPARTMENT
SARAJEVO AND FOČA
The Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with the newly founded Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina and International Commission on Missing Persons, has recognized the problem of subject-matter jurisdiction in carrying out exhumations by District and Cantonal Prosecutor’s Offices in the course of 2008. In a meeting organized by the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina and held on 28 October 2008, which was attended by the Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH, Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of FBiH, Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of Republika Srpska and Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Brčko District of BiH, as well as by representatives of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina and International Commission on Missing Persons, it was agreed that, in the period to follow, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina would receive all information pertaining to missing persons and, in case the need for exhumation arises, submit to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina requests to issue exhumation orders.
The Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH issued the decision according to which, starting from 01 January 2011, all exhumation and re-exhumation requests were to be handled at the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH and through the Court of BiH. In this manner, provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina on subject-matter and territorial jurisdiction in handling the cases of exhumations of persons killed as a result of war crimes will finally be complied with.
Appropriate measures have been undertaken by the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina in terms of preparing all technical and logistic requirements for the execution of future exhumation requests. The acute problem, namely lack of space, is being reflected upon this sphere of activities of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well, as it is to be expected that the number of material documentation and evidence resulting from the execution of such orders will be increased, and these will be stored in the files and archive of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina in future.