Saturday, February 06, 2010

War Crimes: New contempt charges against Serbian Radical Party leader

UN - The leader of the Serb Radical Party was today charged with contempt of court by the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the Balkans over allegedly revealing details about protected witnesses in his own trial.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced that it has initiated contempt proceedings against Vojislav Seselj for having disclosed information on 11 protected witnesses in a book he authored, in violation of the Trial Chamber's orders. The information released included the witnesses' real names, their occupations and their places of residence.

The indictment follows a confidential decision made by the ICTY's appeals chamber on 17 December 2009 in which it found that the trial chamber had erred when it concluded in August last year that insufficient grounds existed to prosecute Mr. ?e?elj for contempt. The prosecution's original motion related to three books, whose titles are confidential, authored by Mr. ?e?elj. The prosecution appealed the trial chamber's findings in relation to only one of the three books.

This is the second time Mr. ?e?elj faces charges of contempt. On 24 July 2009, he was found guilty of contempt and sentenced to 15 months of imprisonment for disclosing the name and other personal details of protected witnesses. The case is currently pending before the appeals chamber.

Mr. ?e?elj had pleaded not guilty to nine charges at the ICTY, including murder, torture and persecution, relating to his alleged role in an ethnic cleansing campaign in the Vojvodina region of Serbia between 1991 and 1993.

The trial resumed at The Hague on 12 January following a year's delay after prosecutors said the case had been compromised by threats against witnesses.

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