Case No.: IT-95-14-A
THE PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL
Before: Judge Theodor Meron, President
Registrar: Mr. Hans Holthuis
Decision of: 29 July 2004
ORDER OF THE PRESIDENT ON THE APPLICATION FOR THE EARLY RELEASE OF TIHOMIR BLASKIC
Counsel for the Tihomir Blaskic:
Mr. Anto Nobilo
Mr. Russell Hayman
1. Counsel for Tihomir Blaskic (“Blaskic”) has filed before me a request for early release following the rendering of the Appeals Chamber decision earlier today. In its judgment the Appeals Chamber overturned the Appellant’s sentence of 45 years imposed by the Trial Chamber on 3 March 2000, and imposed a sentence of nine years, with credit for time served from 1 April 1996.
2. Article 28 of the Statute of the International Tribunal, Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence ("Rules") and Article 1 of the Practice Direction on the Procedure for the Determination of Applications for Pardon, Commutation of Sentence and Early Release of Persons Convicted by International Tribunal ("Practice Direction"), provide that when a convicted person becomes eligible for early release under the law of the State in which he is serving his sentence, the enforcing State shall notify the Tribunal accordingly. Blaskic, however, is not serving his sentence in one of the States signatory to an agreement with the International Tribunal on the enforcement of sentences but remains in the United Nations Detention Unit ("UNDU").
3. In a decision I issued on the early release of Simo Zaric, I noted that the Practice Direction does not specify the early release procedure when a convicted person is serving his sentence at the UNDU in The Netherlands. I concluded in that case, however, that the same procedure should be followed where a request is made by a convicted person from the UNDU. Accordingly, that procedure will be applied to the Request of Blaskic.
4. In the Request filed, Counsel submits that the sentence of the Appeals Chamber means that Blaskic has already served 90% of his sentence in detention. During his period of detention he has been an exemplary prisoner and also an exemplary Appellant before the Tribunal pending the resolution of his appeal. He has been separated from his family for more than eight years and has three young children. He is in acute need of medical care for a longstanding illness and will likely require hospitalisation and surgery.
5. The Deputy Registrar has reported to me, pursuant to Article 2 of the Practice Direction, that Blaskic’s behaviour during his period of imprisonment has been exemplary. He also confirms that Blaskic suffers from a serious medical condition and advises that there is no necessity for a psychological assessment or other report to be made. He notes no impediment to the release of Blaskic.
6. The Deputy Registrar has also reported his consultations with the Office of the Prosecutor. The Office of the Prosecutor has stated that there has been no significant cooperation with its Office by Blaskic.
7. Blaskic is granted 10 days in which to respond to the report of the Registrar under Article 4 of the Practice Direction. However, as the request for Blaskic’s early release has been made by his Counsel, Blaskic’s right to reply to that report is impliedly waved.
8. Pursuant to Article 5 of the Practice Direction, I have consulted the members of the Bureau as well as the Appeals Chamber that entered the fresh sentence against Blaskic. The members of the Bureau and the sentencing Appeals Chamber find no impediment to the release of Blaskic.
9. I have considered Rule 125, incorporated by reference in Article 7 of the Practice Direction, which enumerates some of the factors to be taken into account when examining an application for early release, such as the gravity of the offence, demonstration of rehabilitation, any substantial cooperation with the Office of the Prosecutor, treatment of similarly situated prisoners, and further criteria identified in prior orders and decisions relating to early release.
10. On the basis of the foregoing, and notwithstanding the report of the Office of the Prosecutor that Blaskic has not cooperated with it, I have determined pursuant to Rules 124 and 125 and Article 7 of the Practice Direction to grant the early release application of Blaskic. The Registrar is requested to transmit this decision to the Commanding Officer of the UNDU and provision is to be made for the early release of Tihomir Blaskic to take effect on Monday 2 August 2004.
Done in both English and French, the English text being authoritative.
President of the International Tribunal
Dated this 29th day of July 2004,
At The Hague,
[Seal of the Tribunal]