ICTY convicts Seselj of contempt for revealing witness identities

ICTY convicts Seselj of contempt for revealing witness identities

[JURIST] The trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Friday convicted [press release; judgment summary, PDF] Serbian nationalist Volislav Seselj [ICTY materials; JURIST news archive] of contempt and sentenced him to 15 months in prison for authoring a book revealing pertinent information about several key witnesses. Seselj, leader of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, is currently on trial in the ICTY, charged [indictment, PDF] with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes. He is accused of establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the SRS, which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs during the Balkan conflict. Seselj was charged with contempt [JURIST report] in January. Seselj's criminal trial was indefinitely suspended [JURIST report] in February over concerns of witness intimidation.

Volislav Seselj photo courtesy ICTY

This is the second contempt charge brought in the ICTY's trial of Seselj. In September, key witness Ljubisa Petkovic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF] was found guilty of contempt [JURIST report] for refusing to testify against Seselj. Last August, the ICTY suspended [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 after he failed to appear in court, despite an earlier appeals court ruling that he could represent himself [JURIST reports] provided he did not engage in courtroom behavior that "substantially obstruct[ed] the proper and expeditious proceedings in his case."