ICTY finds uncooperative witness guilty of contempt

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] found Ljubisa Petkovic [ICTY case materials, PDF] guilty of contempt [summary judgement; press release] on Thursday for refusing to testify against Serbian war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj [BBC profile; ICTY case materials, PDF]. Petkovic had been a member of the Serbian Radical Party [party website, in Serbian], of which Seseli had been the president, and refused to testify as a witness for the case's prosecution. Under Rule 77 of the ICTY's Rules of Procedure and Evidence [PDF text], the court has the authority to make a charge of contempt against anyone who disobeys a court subpoena without "just excuses," which it found Petkovic lacked. He was sentenced to four months in prison, but was given credit for the more than three months that he has been held by the court as he awaited trial on the charges. AP has more. UN News Centre has additional coverage.

In late August, the ICTY suspended [press briefing; JURIST report] Seselj's trial pending an appellate ruling on whether the defendant could represent himself. The ICTY had previously stripped Seselj of his right to defend himself [JURIST report] after he failed to appear in court, despite an earlier appeals court ruling that he could represent himself [JURIST report] provided he not engage in courtroom antics that "substantially obstruct the proper and expeditious proceedings in his case." The ICTY has charged Seselj [indictment, PDF; pre-trial brief, PDF] with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes. When the trial began last year, the prosecution made an opening statement [JURIST report] accusing Seselj of inciting atrocities through speeches he made during the Balkan Wars. 



 

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