ICTY sentences war crimes suspect to two years for contempt

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Thursday convicted [judgment, PDF; press release] Serb nationalist politician and war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj [official website, in Serbian; JURIST news archive] of contempt of court and sentenced him to two years in prison. Seselj had been accused of contempt of court for refusing to comply with a court order to remove confidential information from his website, including books he authored disclosing names, occupations and residences of confidential witnesses. The court found that Seselj was in a position to comply with the order and failed to do so. He has been sentenced two other times on contempt charges associated with information disclosed in his books. In October, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and in July 2009 he was sentenced to 15 months [JURIST reports]. Seselj's war crimes trial began [JURIST report] in 2007 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 ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) [BBC backgrounder], which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs during the Balkan conflict.

The ICTY closed the contempt trial [JURIST report] against Seselj last week. Seselj consistently argued that the ICTY is biased and violating his right to a fair trial. In March, he argued that the tribunal is biased and does not have jurisdiction over his case, a week after the prosecution asked the court [JURIST reports] for a 28-year prison sentence against him. In January, Seselj sued the ICTY [JURIST report] for $2.6 million in damages due to alleged unreasonable delays in his trial, alleging that the tribunal failed to give him materials in Serbian; denied him communication with family members, doctors and legal counsel; delayed his trial interminably; and refused him a right to his own, independent counsel.

 

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