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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: August 2011

10 - Judgement and sentencing


Trial chambers at the international criminal tribunals must accompany their verdict with a written judgement setting forth the judges' reasoning. Due to many factors, judgements at the international criminal tribunals have been notoriously lengthy. These include, among others, the chamber's need to articulate factual findings in detail; the sprawling nature of the crime base in many cases; the accused's senior status and the consequent need to set forth analyses of large quantities of linkage evidence; the joinder of several accused into the same trial; and a tradition of lengthy judgements dating from the earliest ICTY and ICTR trials. If the chamber convicts the accused and decides to impose a penalty of imprisonment, the judges also must set forth the reasons supporting the sentence in the same or a subsequent written judgement. For reasons discussed below, sentencing decisions at the international criminal tribunals, though guided by a large and detailed body of jurisprudence, have been unpredictable and sentences have been often astonishingly lenient considering the extreme gravity of the crimes.

This chapter looks at judgement, sentences of imprisonment and other penalties, and post-conviction and post-acquittal procedures at the international criminal tribunals. Though occasional reference is made to internationalised tribunals other than the SCSL, the chapter's main focus is the ICTY, the ICTR, and the SCSL as the most influential internationalised tribunal; these three tribunals have handed down many judgements and sentences and have contributed the bulk of the law on judgement and sentencing.

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