State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

[ The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina] was officially established in November 2000 after approval by a government working group and the [ final decision by the High Representative] at the time, Wolfgang Petritsch. The Court was created to address the need for a judicial authority at the state level, as previously supreme judicial authority existed only at the high courts of the entities, the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Court has first instance jurisdiction over administrative matters (disputes or infractions relating to electoral law, for example), and second instance jurisdiction over criminal matters in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The seat of the Court is in Sarajevo. The Court resides within the "Complex for BiH-Judicial Institutions", which has been subject to extensive renovation, transforming a former military court into a modern civilian Courthouse. The Court currently has 8 high-tech courtrooms - including one high-security courtroom for sensitive cases. All trials are recorded on video for later evidence. A 21 cell high security pre-trial detention center has been established in close proximity to the Court for the detention of defendants who are a flight risk or could negatively influence the proceedings.

War Crimes Chamber Project (WCCP) and the Registry for War Crimes and Organized Crime (the Registry)

In January 2003, the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) issued a [ set of joint conclusions] recommending the creation of a War Crimes Chamber Project (WCCP), consisting of a specialized chamber for war crimes within the Court of BiH and a corresponding special department for war crimes within the Prosecutors Office of BiH. Subsequently, the Court of BiH established the aforementioned specialized departments in January 2005, consisting of international and national judges and prosecutors.

The WCCP was envisioned as part of the ICTY's desire to conclude its mandate by 2010 and transfer all responsibility for handling of war crimes cases to the appropriate national governments within the states of the former Yugoslavia. The proposed transfer of lower to mid-level perpetrators to national courts was established through Rule 11 bis of the ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Subsequently, two Rule 11 bis cases have been transferred directly from the ICTY to the Court of BiH. In September 2005, Radovan Stankovic was physically transferred from the ICTY to the custody of the Court of BiH. In November 2005, Gojko Jankovic was transferred. Future Rule 11 bis transfers are expected.

Since January 2005 the "War Crimes Chamber Project" terminology has rarely been used, due to the additional involvement of the international community in handling organized crime as well as war crimes cases. In December 2004, the Office of the High Representative concluded an agreement with the Presidency of BiH for creating the Registry for Section I for War Crimes and Section II for Organized Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption. The Registry is a support service to the Court of BiH funded by international donors that provides assistance to judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and to the general management of the Court.

The Court of BiH currently has 6 trial panels of 3 judges each for war crimes and organized crime. Each panel is composed of 2 international judges and 1 BiH judge, who presides.

On February 3, 2006 the War Crimes Chamber opened its first genocide case starting trial of 11 members of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska from 1995, indicted for genocide and complicity to genocide in Srebrenica massacre.

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