The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Tuesday terminated the appellate proceedings [judgment, PDF] in the case of former Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) army commander Rasim Delic [case materials; Trial Watch profile], who died in April [JURIST report] while on provisional release in Sarajevo. Delic was convicted [JURIST report] in 2008 on the basis of superior responsibility for failing to prevent abuses by his El Mujahedin Detachment (EMD), which subjected 12 members of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) to severe beatings and electric shocks and forced them to kiss the severed heads of other detainees. The appeals chamber cited three reasons for why the ICTY was limited to the prosecution of living persons under the tribunal's statute and rules of procedure:
First, the personal jurisdiction of the Tribunal is limited to "natural persons", which, read in the context and in light of the Statute's object and purpose, should be understood in its ordinary meaning, i.e., the living. Second, Article 25 of the Statute clearly states that "[t]he Appeals Chamber shall hear appeals from persons convicted by the Trial Chambers or from the Prosecutor", thus leaving no room for other persons interested in the outcome of the appeal. Third, neither the Statute nor the Rules allow for Tribunal's jurisdiction in relation to any procedures initiated by the convicted person's heirs or victims. The Appeals Chamber is of the view that this clearly demonstrates that the Tribunal's jurisdiction ... is limited to living accused or convicted persons.The chamber went on to conclude that the tribunal offered no prevalent approach under customary international law [press release] that would be applicable to Delic's situation, as no appellant under the jurisdiction of the ICTY or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has died before the rendering of the appeal judgment.
Delic was one of the highest-ranking Bosnian military leaders to stand trial before the tribunal for his actions in the 1992-1994 Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archive]. After he was charged in early 2005, Delic surrendered to the court and pleaded not guilty [JURIST reports]. He was convicted on three counts of murder and cruel treatment in 2008 and sentenced to three years in prison. Delic was awaiting a decision from the ICTY on his appeal of the conviction when he died of cancer in April.