IU Law-Indianapolis Students Intern at The Hague Working on War Crimes Cases
During the summer of 2005, Julie Mudd (3L), a third-year law student at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis and an intern with law school’s Program in International Human Rights Law, worked on the defense team of Mr. Sefer Halilovic, who was on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, The Netherlands. Halilovic, who indicted in September 2001 and went on trial in January 2005, was acquitted of war crimes on November 16th of this year by an ICTY trial chamber who also ordered his immediate release from UN custody. The ICTY is an ad hoc tribunal established in 1993 by United Nations Security Council Resolution in response to breaches of international humanitarian law in the former Yugoslavia. It has jurisdiction to prosecute persons for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, violations of the laws or customs of war, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Mr. Halilovic had been charged with murder as a violation of the laws and customs of war.
The indictment alleged that Halilovic was the commander of certain Bosnia and Herzegovina troops during a 1993 military operation regarding the Bosnian city of Mostar. It alleged that he was responsible, by way of superior responsibility, for civilian murders committed by those troops. The ICTY found that “the Prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Sefer Halilovic was either de jure or de facto commander of [the] operation” and that “the Prosecution. . . failed to establish that Sefer Halilovic had effective control over the troops which committed the crimes in the areas of Grabovica and Uzdol.”
ICTY acquittals are rare, as this is only the third acquittal the tribunal has seen in the ten years since it was established. Forty accused persons have been found guilty and are serving or have served their sentences. Seventy-seven accused persons are awaiting trial and nine others remain at large.
Also serving as an ICTY intern in The Hague during the 2005 summer was IU Law-Indianapolis third-year student Sean Monkhouse, who was assigned to the case of Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the fall 2005 semester, a team of IU Law - Indianapolis students has been providing pro bono research assistance to the ICTY Assigned Counsel for Mr. Milosevic, Ms. Gillian Higgins and Mr. Steven Kay. IU Law- Indianapolis students are also providing pro bono research to the Pentagon appointed military defense counsel for Mr. David M. Hicks, whose trial is pending before the U.S. Military Commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hicks, who is an Australian citizen, is alleged to have engaged in war crimes in supporting the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Professor George E. Edwards, who served as an Expert Witness on International Law in the Guantanamo Bay case of Mr. Hicks, is supervising the Milosevic and Hicks student research teams at the law school.