The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has issued warrants for the arrest of two lawyers for the war crimes indictee Vojislav Seselj and one of his wartime associates for bribing witnesses.
Lawyers Petar Jojic and Vjerica Radeta and Seselj’s wartime associate Jovo Ostojic “have been charged with contempt of the Tribunal for allegedly having threatened, intimidated, offered bribes to, or otherwise interfered with two witnesses in the trial against Vojislav Seselj and a related contempt case against him,” the Hague-based tribunal said in a press release on its website.
The arrest warrants were issued confidentially in January, but since the authorities in Belgrade have failed to comply with them, the ICTY has decided to make them public.
In one case, lawyer Radeta approached a prosecution witness and told him Seselj’s lawyers “would help him” if he changed his testimony and came over to the defence’s side, the French news agency AFP reported. The witness afterwards received 500 euros per month, paid by Seselj’s Serbian Radical Party. Like another witness, he had to memorise his statement for the ICTY, prepared by the defence.
The tribunal said on Tuesday it had asked Serbia to transfer the three accused to The Hague, according to AFP.
Seselj is charged with ethnic cleansing of Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs during the wars of the 1990s. Last year he was granted a provisional release from the tribunal’s custody to undergo cancer treatment in Serbia.
Serbia’s minister in charge with cooperation with the ICTY, Rasim Ljajic, said that the announcement from The Hague was completely unexpected and surprising. “We expected that Seselj’s verdict would be announced some time this year and it was logical that these people were tried for contempt of the tribunal at that time,” AFP quoted him as telling Tanjug news agency.