ICTY sentences Seselj to 18 months for contempt of court

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Monday convicted [press release] former Serb nationalist and war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj [case materials; JURIST news archive] of contempt and sentenced him [judgment, PDF] to 18 months in prison for revealing the names of protected witnesses in a book he authored [website]. The tribunal filed an indictment against Seselj in February 2010 for disclosing the names, occupations and places of residence of 11 protected witnesses in violation of the tribunal's order. Seselj admitted that he authored the book after protective orders were given in relation to 10 of the 11 witnesses, and a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf after he refused to enter a plea. After a trial [case information sheet, PDF] that began [JURIST report] in February 2011 and concluded in June, the ICTY found that "the Accused knew he was disclosing information which identified ten of the witnesses and revealed that they could be involved in the Seselj case when he published the Book, and that he did so intentionally, with the knowledge that by doing so, he was violating decisions of the Seselj Trial Chamber." The tribunal emphasized the "deliberate way" in which Seselj violated the protective order and considered the adverse impact that his conduct may have upon witnesses trusting the Tribunal to guarantee to protect their identity. The tribunal also considered Selsej's lack of remorse and the widespread availability of the book in print and electronic forms when determining the scope of the disclosure.

The 18-month sentence imposed on Monday is the conclusion of the second of three contempt charges filed against Seselj. The first charge resulted in a 15-month sentence that he will serve concurrently with the 18-month sentence, and the third charge [JURIST reports] is currently underway. Seselj's war crimes trial began [JURIST report] in 2007 at the ICTY after he was charged [indictment, PDF] with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes and accused of establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs during the Balkan conflict. The trial was suspended [JURIST report] in 2009 because of concerns witnesses were being intimidated. The 2-1 ruling came in response to a motion filed by prosecutors in which they argued [court transcripts] there was "clear and convincing evidence that going forward will compromise the integrity and fairness of the proceedings." The trial resumed in 2010 after the delay, and was again ordered to continue in 2011 after Seselj sought to have the charges be dismissed [case sheet, PDF]. The trial is currently ongoing.

 

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