Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 17:58 UK

At a glance: Hague tribunal

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Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is being tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

The UN body was set up to prosecute serious crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.


The tribunal was the first international body for the prosecution of war crimes since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials held in the aftermath of World War II.

The ICTY was established by Resolution 827 of the UN Security Council in May 1993 and all UN members are obliged to co-operate fully with it.

It has jurisdiction over individuals responsible for war crimes committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991.

The offences are defined as:

  • Grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions
  • Violations of the laws or customs of war
  • Genocide
  • Crimes against humanity

The tribunal may not try suspects in absentia, nor impose the death penalty.

The maximum sentence it can hand down is life imprisonment.

It has large teams of investigators working across the former Yugoslavia but it does not have its own police force and instead relies on the former Yugoslav republics or international peace forces to make arrests.

The tribunal has concurrent jurisdiction with national courts over war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia.

However, it can claim primacy over national courts and may take over national investigations and proceedings at any stage if this proves to be in the interest of international justice.

The tribunal has 1,118 staff members from 82 countries and the budget for 2008-2009 is $342m (228m euros or £206m).

The tribunal is expected to wrap up its work in the next few years. Estimates as of autumn 2009 suggest that all but four of the ICTY's trials will conclude in 2010, three more in early 2011, and the final trial, that of Karadzic, in early 2012. If the remaining two fugitives are caught, presumably the closure could be delayed.


President: Patrick Lipton Robinson (Jamaica)

Vice-president: Judge O-Gon Kwon (South Korea)

There are 14 other permanent judges from various countries.

There are also up to 12 ad litem judges.

Chief Prosecutor: Serge Brammertz (Belgium)

Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz is the fourth person to hold the position.

Mr Brammertz took over from Swiss lawyer Carla Del Ponte in January 2008. The position has also been held by Canadian Louise Arbor and the South African Richard Goldstone.

On assuming his post, Mr Brammertz said that his priority would be to ensure that the "four fugitives" - suspects Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Stojan Zupljanin and Goran Hadzic - were brought to justice.

With the capture of Radovan Karadzic, just a month after that of Stojan Zupljanin, only two of the tribunal's indicted suspects remain at large.


The tribunal has concluded proceedings against 120 individuals:

  • 60 have been sentenced
  • 11 have been acquitted
  • 13 have had their cases referred to national jurisdiction
  • 36 have had their indictments withdrawn or have died

The death of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in March 2006 was a blow to prosecutors, who regarded him as the man ultimately responsible for the bloodshed that ripped Yugoslavia apart.

Mr Milosevic died in the tribunal's detention unit while on trial facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged central role in the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo during the 1990s.

He also faced genocide charges over the 1992-95 Bosnia war, in which 100,000 people died.

A post-mortem examination found that Mr Milosevic had died of a heart attack.

Another disappointment for prosecutors was the acquittal of former Kosovo Albanian Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

A judge at Mr Haradinaj's acquittal ruled that much of the evidence against Mr Haradinaj was either inconclusive or non-existent.

Mr Brammertz has expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling.

The tribunal has ongoing proceedings against 41 individuals:

  • 23 are currently on trial
  • 14 are before the Appeals Chamber
  • Two are at the pre-trial stage (including Mr Karadzic)
  • Two are at large

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was detained by the Serbian authorities on 21 July 2008 after evading capture for 13 years.

The two fugitives who remain at large are Ratko Mladic, former chief of staff of the Bosnian Serb army, and Goran Hadzic, who is wanted for war crimes in Croatia.

Longest sentences passed:

  • Life, reduced to 40 years on appeal, for Bosnian Serb Milomir Stakic, the former mayor of Prijedor in northern Bosnia
  • 40 years for Bosnian Serb prison camp guard Goran Jelisic

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