Workshop on plea bargaining in trials for war crimes organized by UNICRI and OKO.
The first training course in the sector of defence dealing with issues concerning war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, was organized on June 27, 2008, in cooperation with OKO (Criminal Defence Section). The course is part of a project financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called "Initative for the Support to the State Court and the Chamber for War Crimes".
This project aims at assisting Bosnia and Herzegovina while acquiring full capacity for international crimes prosecution, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The objectives of the project are the following:
- Authorities' assistance in developing strategies for the Office of the Attorney;
- Offer of analytical tools for the management of complex cases;
- Transfer of knowledge between international judges (still operating in Bosnia-Herzegovina as members of a mixed panels) and Bosnian ones;
- Promotion of respect for norms and international standards while prosecuting international crimes;
- Improvement of lawyers' skills and knowledge.
To achieve these results, lawyers need to attend several training courses, the first of which - focusing on plea bargaining - took place at Hotel Bosna in Sarajevo, on Friday, June 27.
Professor Nancy Combs provided an overview on plea bargaining for international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, enhancing the importance this instrument might have in the resolutions of Bosnian cases. Following, Ms Combs briefly described the advantages and disadvantages of plea bargaining, focusing on hidden benefits and risks.
The second lecture was given by Mr Vladimir Tochilovsky, lawyer at the Public Prosecutor Office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The lecture focused on the practical aspects of plea bargaining within the ICTY jurisprudence and, in particular, on the Public Prosecutor's point of view regarding the decision to offer the accused such possibility.
The third speech was held by Mr Colleen M. Rohan, defence attorney and President of the Disciplinary Council, ICTY Defence Attorneys Association. Mr Rohan listed the defence attorney's legal and ethical obligations towards her/his client as far as plea bargaining is concerned and explained the way the former is supposed to prepare negotiations with the Public Prosecutor and adequately advise her/his client.
In the afternoon the workshop continued with a simulation of a plea bargaining situation between small groups of participants. In the end, each group realised a presentation and the workshop finished with an active discussion involving all participants.