Two weeks before the appeals judgment is due to be delivered, the judges order the “immediate release” of Mario Cerkez from the Detention Unit in The Hague where he has spent seven years and two months

The Appeals Chamber ordered today the “immediate release” of Mario Cerkez, after they decided that that the first instance judgment sentencing him to 15 years in prison “has to be revised”. Cerkez has spent seven years and two months in the UN Detention Unit.

The short order does not specify how the sentence is to be “revised”, i.e., how much it will be reduced. All the details will be made public when the appeals judgment is delivered. This has been scheduled for 17 December.

“The Appeals Chamber instructs the Register to take all necessary measures for the release of Mario Cerkez and to enable him – if he so wishes – to be present when the judgement is delivered,” the order says.

Mario Cerkez, former commander of the HVO Vitez Brigade, surrendered to the Tribunal in October 1997, after he had been indicted for the crimes against Bosniaks in the Vitez area, including the massacre in Ahmici. The Trial Chamber found him guilty on 26 February 2001 for the attacks on Bosniaks in Vitez and Donja Veceriska and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. The accused Cerkez appealed the judgment, as did the prosecution, who sought a more sever punishment.

His co-accused at this trial was the former HDZ leader in Central Bosnia, Dario Kordic, sentenced to 25 years in prison by the Trial Chamber.