Good character

Notion(s) Filing Case
Appeal Judgement - 08.05.2012 NTABAKUZE Aloys
(ICTR-98-41A-A)

296. […] The Appeals Chamber reiterates that in most cases the good character of a convicted person carries little weight in the determination of the sentence.[1] Ntabakuze does not submit any argument demonstrating a discernible error in the Trial Chamber’s assessment. His contention in this respect is therefore rejected.

[1] See, e.g., Seromba Appeal Judgement, para. 235, citing Semanza Appeal Judgement, para. 398; Nahimana et al. Appeal Judgement, para. 1069, citing Babić Judgement on Sentencing Appeal, para. 50; Kajelijeli Appeal Judgement, para. 301.

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ICTR Rule Rule 101(B)(ii) ICTY Rule Rule 101(B)(ii)
Notion(s) Filing Case
Appeal Judgement - 20.05.2005 SEMANZA Laurent
(ICTR-97-20-A)

398. The Appeals Chamber is of the view that it was within the Trial Chamber’s discretion to take into account as mitigation in sentencing the Appellant’s previous good character and accomplishments as bourgmestre. Precedent does not support the Prosecution’s position that “being a successful academic, politician or administrator is irrelevant” as a mitigating factor in crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. Notwithstanding, the Appeals Chamber notes that in most cases the accused’s previous good character is accorded little weight in the final determination of determining the sentence.[1] […]

[1] Niyitegeka Appeal Judgement, paras 264-266; Kupreškić et al. Appeal Judgement, paras 428-430.

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ICTR Rule Rule 101(B)(ii) ICTY Rule Rule 101(B)(ii)
Notion(s) Filing Case
Judgement on Sentencing Appeal - 18.07.2005 BABIĆ Milan
(IT-03-72-A)

48. The paragraphs of the Sentencing Judgement at issue under this ground of appeal read as follows:

The Tribunal has jurisdiction over crimes committed during the armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia, where ordinary citizens were involved in horrendous events. The Trial Chamber is of the view that the prior good character of a convicted person (understood against a common standard of behaviour) does not as such count in mitigation, although in exceptional circumstances, for which there is no evidence in this case, it may.[1]

The Trial Chamber does not accept that this proposed ground of mitigation should be given any effect in this case.[2]

49. The Appeals Chamber notes that, while it is correct to say that good character has been recognised as a mitigating circumstance in most cases, this is not a constant practice but instead varies with the circumstances; e.g., in the Tadić Sentencing Judgement, the Trial Chamber noted that the Accused was “a law abiding citizen and seemingly enjoyed the respect of his community” and “was an intelligent, responsible and mature adult […] capable of compassion towards and sensitivity for his fellows” but noted that this, “if anything, aggravates more than it mitigates: for such a man to have committed these crimes requires an even greater evil will on his part than for a lesser man.”[3]

50. Even when personal factors or circumstances – including prior good character – have been considered as mitigating circumstances, they have been given little weight in mitigation. In the Furundžija Trial Judgement, the Trial Chamber acknowledged that the accused had “no previous conviction and [was] the father of a young child” but noted that “this might be said of many accused persons and cannot be given significant weight in a case of this gravity”.[4] The same approach was taken in the Jelisić Trial Judgement.[5] The statement of the Trial Chamber in the present case to the effect that the International Tribunal “has jurisdiction over crimes committed during the armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia, where ordinary citizens were involved in horrendous events” – read in conjunction with the limitation that the prior good character of a convicted person would in isolation only count in mitigation in exceptional circumstances – follows the same line of reasoning.

[1] Sentencing Judgement, para. 91 (emphasis added, footnote omitted).

[2] Ibid., para. 92 (emphasis added).

[3] Tadić Judgement in Sentencing Appeals, para. 59.

[4] Furundžija Trial Judgement, para. 284.

[5] Jelisić Trial Judgement, para. 124: “Among the mitigating circumstances set out by the Defence, the Trial Chamber will consider the age of the accused. He is now 31 years old and, at the time of the crimes, was 23. The Trial Chamber also takes into account the fact that the accused had never [been] convicted of a violent crime and that he is the father of a young child. Nonetheless, as indicated by the Trial Chamber hearing the Furundžija case, many accused are in that same situation and, in so serious a case, the Judges cannot accord too great a weight to considerations of this sort.” See also Banović Sentencing Judgement, para. 75: “[M]any accused share these personal factors and, in the Trial Chamber’s view, the weight to be accorded to them is limited”.

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Notion(s) Filing Case
Appeal Judgement - 09.05.2007 BLAGOJEVIĆ & JOKIĆ
(IT-02-60-A)

342. […] Mere compliance with the law is not ordinarily a factor in assessing an accused’s good character, but the Appeals Chamber has noted that a Trial Chamber, in the exercise of its discretion, may credit an accused for fully complying with certain obligations, such as the terms and conditions of an accused’s provisional release,[1] or may permissibly credit an accused for preventing the commission of crimes.[2]

[1] See, e.g., Miodrag Jokić Sentencing Appeal Judgement, para. 82.

[2] See, e.g., Kupreškić et al. Appeal Judgement, para. 430 (permitting the Trial Chamber’s consideration that Josipović stopped soldiers from killing a Muslim civilian woman). 

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