The Hague: The Court of Appeal partially accepted the appeal of Salih Mustafa; sentenced to 22 years in prison

Saljih Mustafa
Source: Kosovo Online

The Appeals Chamber partially accepted Salih Mustafa's appeal, reducing his sentence from 26 to 22 years in prison for the crimes committed in Kosovo, with the time spent in detention being credited towards the sentence.

This marked the pronouncement of the first appellate judgment in the case being conducted before the Specialist Chambers in Kosovo for war crimes.

The Appeals Panel upheld Salih Mustafa's conviction for war crimes of arbitrary deprivation of liberty (Count 1 of the indictment), torture (Count 3), and murder (Count 4).

While fully aware of the broad discretionary powers the trial panel possesses when deciding on the sentence, and mindful that sentencing decisions cannot be casually copied from one case to another, the Appeals Chamber concluded that, in cases involving war crimes prosecuted before international and Kosovo courts, comparable to those for which Mustafa was convicted, milder sentences had been imposed. Therefore, the Appeals Chamber mitigated the individual sentences imposed on Mustafa for the war crimes he was convicted of and reduced his overall aggregate sentence from 26 to 22 years in prison, including time spent in detention, as stated in the statement from The Hague.

In delivering the judgment, the Appeals Panel emphasized that it represented a "significant step towards justice for the victims and establishing accountability" and that the reduction in Mustafa's sentence "by no means implies that the crimes for which he was found guilty and convicted are not serious".

The Appeals Panel noted that Mustafa had not challenged the reparations order issued by the trial panel, which determined reparations for eight victims involved in the proceedings. The Appeals Panel also stressed that its decision did not affect the reparations order.

Furthermore, the Appeals Panel emphasized that it had affirmed Salih Mustafa's convictions based on "individual criminal responsibility" for war crimes of torture, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and murder and that "this proceeding was not conducted against the KLA or the people of Kosovo, and they are not held responsible nor have been found guilty of these crimes".