Tuesday, November 01, 2011

War Crimes: UN war crimes tribunal jails Serb leader again over contempt of court

UN - The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s today sentenced the leader of the Serb Radical Party – already facing trial on charges of crimes against humanity – to 18 months in jail after finding him guilty of contempt of court for a second time.

Vojislav Šešelj will serve the prison term concurrently with the 15-month jail sentence he was given by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in May last year – in both cases for disclosing information relating to protected witnesses in his trial.

A third contempt of court case for alleged similar actions by Mr. Šešelj is currently pending.

Mr. Šešelj, who had refused to enter a plea to the charges he was convicted of today, has previously admitted to writing a book which detailed the real names, occupations and residences of 11 protected witnesses in his trial.

The ICTY’s trial chamber, announcing its decision, said Mr. Šešelj had disclosed information about the witnesses “intentionally, [and] with the knowledge that by doing so, he was violating decisions” of the court.

Calling this action “a serious interference with the administration of justice,” the judges said they had also considered Mr. Šešelj’s lack of remorse in determining the sentence, as well as the fact that the book was also in electronic form and thus more widely available.

The ICTY said it was also hoping to “discourage this type of behaviour” to try to avoid a repeat by either Mr. Šešelj or anyone else involved in proceedings before the tribunal, which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands.

Mr. Šešelj is on trial at the ICTY on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in crimes committed between 1991 and 1994 against non-Serbs living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Vojvodina, Serbia.