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The Hague, 31October 2011
Vojislav Šešelj sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for Contempt of the Tribunal
Trial Chamber II today convicted Vojislav Šešelj of contempt of the Tribunal and sentenced him to 18 months’ imprisonment for disclosing confidential information pertaining to protected witnesses in a book he authored.
Šešelj, the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, is on trial before the Tribunal for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between 1991 and 1994 against the non-Serb population from large parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Vojvodina, Serbia.
On 4 February 2010, the Trial Chamber filed an order in lieu of an indictment and initiated contempt proceedings against Šešelj for disclosing, in violation of the Trial Chamber’s orders, information on 11 protected witnesses, including their real names, occupations and places of residence, in a book he authored.
Šešelj admitted he was the author of the book which was published after decisions granting protective measures were rendered in relation to 10 of the 11 witnesses. Šešelj refused to enter a plea to the charges and a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf at his further appearance on 6 May 2010. The trial commenced on 22 February 2011 and concluded on 8 June 2011.
The Trial Chamber found that “the Accused knew he was disclosing information which identified ten of the witnesses and revealed that they could be involved in the Šešelj 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 Šešelj Trial Chamber.”
The Chamber noted “with grave concern the deliberate way in which the protective measure decisions imposed by the Šešelj Trial Chamber were violated,” and considered “this a serious interference with the administration of justice.”
In determining the sentence, the Chamber considered “the expanded scope of disclosure given the Book’s electronic form and availability, as well as the Accused’s lack of remorse.”
The Chamber also gave particular consideration “to the potential adverse impact that the Accused’s conduct may have upon witnesses’ confidence in the Tribunal’s ability to guarantee the effectiveness of protective measures.”
Furthermore, the Chamber recognised the need to “discourage this type of behaviour” and to take the necessary steps so as to “ensure that there is no repetition of such conduct on the part of the Accused or any other person.”
This was the second trial for contempt of the Tribunal against Vojislav Šešelj. In the first contempt case against him, completed on 19 May 2010, Šešelj was convicted to 15 months of imprisonment for disclosing confidential information, which he will serve concurrently with the 18 months sentence he was convicted to today. The third contempt case against Šešelj, initiated on 24 May 2011, is currently underway.
The Tribunal regards the inviolability of its decisions on protective measures as an essential element of fair trial process and the rule of law. Several persons who have attempted to interfere with the judicial process in the Tribunal by revealing confidential information have been prosecuted.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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