Norway court hands down first sentence under new war crimes law

[JURIST] A Norwegian court on Tuesday sentenced [press release, in Norwegian] Bosnian immigrant Mirsad Repak to five years in prison for committing war crimes against 11 Serbian citizens imprisoned during the Bosnian War. Repak, who has lived Norway for more than 10 years, was also ordered to pay damages to the families of eight Serbian victims, but was acquitted on the charges of rape and crimes against humanity. Repak was the first person to be tried on war crimes charges [JURIST report] under the new Norwegian legislation [JURIST report] that was enacted in March that outlawed war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was also the first to be tried on war crimes in Norway since World War II.

The case raised a constitutional question concerning whether the new legislation could be applied retroactively. A provision of the Norwegian Constitution [text] specifically prohibits the retroactive application of any law, unless a similar law could be found to exist prior to the inclusion of a new law. The court reasoned that the new law against war crimes was essentially similar to the older penal provision that prohibited crimes against personal freedom. The Oslo District Court acquitted Repak of crimes against humanity because it could find no prior law to apply.

 

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