Some psychological and law features of the insanity defence in war crimes trials in Europe

 

Igor Areh, Ph. D., Associate Professor, Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Kotnikova 8, Ljubljana, Slovenia; igor.areh@fvv.uni-mb.si

 

Andrej Sotlar, Ph. D., Associate Professor, Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Kotnikova 8, Ljubljana, Slovenia; andrej.sotlar@fvv.uni-mb.si

 

Sabina Zgaga, Ph. D., Assistant Professor, Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia, Beethovnova ulica 10, Ljubljana, Slovenia; sabina.zgaga@us-rs.si. Opinions in this article do not represent opinions of the Constitutional Court.

 

 

NEKE PSIHOLOŠKE I PRAVNE KARAKTERISTIKE KORIŠTENJA NEUBROJIVOSTI U OBRANI NA SUĐENJIMA ZA RATNE ZLOČINE U EUROPI

 

 

Dr. sc. Igor Areh, izvanredni profesor Fakulteta za sigurnosne znanosti Sveučilišta u Mariboru, Kotnikova 8, Ljubljana, Slovenija; igor.areh@fvv.uni-mb.si

 

Dr. sc. Andrej Sotlar, izvanredni profesor Fakulteta za sigurnosne znanosti Sveučilišta u Mariboru, Kotnikova 8, Ljubljana, Slovenija; andrej.sotlar@fvv.uni-mb.si

 

Dr. sc. Sabina Zgaga, docentica, Ustavni sud Republike Slovenije, Beethovnova ulica 10, Ljubljana, Slovenija; sabina.zgaga@us-rs.si.

 

In trials against war criminals, the defendants often plead not guilty by reason of insanity in an effort to avoid assuming responsibility for the charged acts. The paper discusses the history of the insanity defence and some factors that might explain why war crimes are committed. The authors concentrate primarily on the psychological elements of insanity and the reasons for extreme violence appearing at the individual level. Persons charged with war crimes often use posttraumatic stress disorder as the basis for an insanity defence. The authors also consider insanity from the perspective of international criminal law. By explicitly and precisely defining insanity, the Rome Statute moved away from the general provisions employed by the Nuremberg Tribunal, while at the same time making a clear distinction between insanity and incapacity for trial. Insanity may be a complete defence resulting in exclusion of the criminal act and exclusion of the offender’s culpability.

 

Keywords: war crime, insanity defence, international criminal law

 


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