The Appeals Chamber today affirmed Vojislav Šešelj’s conviction for Contempt of the Tribunal and his sentence of 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 31 October 2011, the Contempt Trial Chamber found Šešelj guilty of one count of Contempt of the Tribunal and sentenced him to a single term of imprisonment of 18 months to be served concurrently with the sentence of fifteen months imposed on 24 July 2009 in Šešelj’s first contempt trial.
The Amicus Prosecutor filed his Notice of Appeal on 14 November 2011 and his Appeal Brief on 29 November 2011. On 23 August 2012, the Appeals Chamber found that, by failing to re-file his notice of appeal or appeal brief in accordance with the relevant practice directions, Šešelj had waived his right to appeal and declared the briefing in the case to be completed.
The Appeals Chamber granted grounds one and two of the Amicus Prosecutor’s appeal, finding that the sentence of 15 months’ imprisonment imposed in Šešelj’s first contempt case had expired before the Contempt Trial Judgement in this second case was rendered, and that therefore the sentence imposed by the Contempt Trial Chamber had no sentence with which to run concurrently. However, the Appeals Chamber noted that the Accused must be given credit for the period he has been in the custody of the Tribunal, which is longer than the total of both the 15-month sentence imposed with respect to Seselj’s first contempt case and his 18-month sentence with respect to this second contempt case. The Chamber therefore concluded that the sentence imposed in this case had been served.
The Appeals Chamber, Judge Pocar partially dissenting, dismissed ground three of the Amicus Prosecutor’s appeal which set out that the Contempt Trial Chamber had failed to provide a reasoned opinion for imposing a concurrent sentence in this case. Having found that the Contempt Trial Chamber erred in imposing a sentence on Šešelj that was to run with the expired sentence in Šešelj’s first contempt case, the Appeals Chamber, Judge Pocar partially dissenting, dismissed this grounds of appeal as moot.
The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground four of the Amicus Prosecutor’s appeal which set out that the sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment was manifestly inadequate, finding that the Amicus Prosecutor had failed to show an error on the part of the Contempt Trial Chamber that would necessitate altering Šešelj’s sentence. The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber’s conclusion that the gravity of the breach and the need for deterrence warranted 18 months’ imprisonment was reasonable and within the scope of its discretion.
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. On 28 June 2012, Šešelj was found guilty of Contempt of the Tribunal in a third case, for failing to remove confidential information from his website in violation of the orders of a Chamber. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. This Judgement is currently under appeal.
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.