ICTY charges Seselj with contempt for revealing witness identities News
ICTY charges Seselj with contempt for revealing witness identities

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugolavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday charged [text, PDF; press release] Volislav Seselj [ICTY materials; JURIST news archive] with contempt of court after it was alleged that Seselj authored a book revealing pertinent information about several key witnesses. The book is believed to have been published after a protective order was placed by the court [UN News Centre report] to keep the identity of the witnesses a secret. The book contains such information as the names of the witnesses, the names of their wives and children, and their addresses. The charge of contempt states:

Having reviewed the material provided by the Prosecution, the Chamber has reason to believe that Vojislav Seselj, the apparent author of the book, may be in contempt of the Tribunal by virtue of the disclosure of information that might identify or lead to the identification of protected witnesses and for disclosing parts of a witness statement, in contravention of orders given by the Trial Chamber conducting the trial of Vojislav Seselj. As indicated earlier, there is evidence the book was published after the relevant orders had been made. The chamber is therefore persuaded that it should initiate proceedings against Vojislav Seselj under Rule 77(C)(iii). The material before us satisfies the Chamber that there are sufficient grounds to proceed against Vojislav Seselj for contempt pursuant to Rule 77(D)(ii).

Rule 77(C)(iii) of the ICTY's Rules of Procedure and Evidence [text, PDF] states that the Court has the authority to initiate a contempt charge against anyone who appears before it.

This is the second contempt charge brought in the ICTY's trial of Seselj. In September, key witness Ljubisa Petkovic [ICTY materials, PDF] was found guilty of contempt [judgment summary; JURIST report] for refusing to testify against Seselj. In August, the ICTY suspended [press release; JURIST report] Seselj's trial pending an appellate ruling on whether the defendant could represent himself. The ICTY had previously stripped Seselj of his right to defend himself [JURIST report] after he failed to appear in court, despite an earlier appeals court ruling that he could represent himself [JURIST report] provided he did not engage in courtroom behavior that "substantially obstruct[ed] the proper and expeditious proceedings in his case." The ICTY has charged [indictment, PDF; pre-trial brief, PDF] Seselj with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes. When the trial began last year, the prosecution made an opening statement [JURIST report] accusing Seselj of inciting atrocities through speeches he made during the Balkan Wars.