[JURIST] Former Yugoslav intelligence officer Dragomir Pecanac was convicted [judgment, PDF; press release] Friday on a charge of contempt for failing to testify before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website]. The charges [press release] were brought against Pecanac in October when he failed to comply with a subpoena to testify as a witness in the trial against Zdravko Tolimir [ICTY materials; JURIST report], his former commander. In issuing its ruling, the ICTY found that Pecanac’s actions failed to comply with the interests of justice:
Contempt of the Tribunal is a serious offence, which goes to the essence of the administration of justice. By his failure to comply with the Subpoena and to appear at the seat of the Tribunal and testify, the Accused has acted against the interests of justice. His failure to testify has deprived the Chamber of relevant evidence. The Tribunal is dependent on witness testimony and the deprivation of such relevant evidence amounts to a serious interference with the administration of justice, and in fact, endangers the fulfillment of the Tribunal’s functions and mandate.
Pecanac was sentenced to three months in prison, but will get credit for the 74 days he has already served.
The tribunal issued a subpoena for Pecanac in August. When he failed to appear in September, the tribunal issued an order for contempt, in lieu of an indictment as well as an arrest warrant. In mid-October he entered a not guilty plea. Earlier this week the tribunal heard former Serbian general and alleged war criminal Ratko Mladic [JURIST news archive] enter a not guilty plea [JURIST report] to charges linked to the execution of more than 30 Muslim prisoners in the eastern town of Bisina in July 1995. He had previously refused to enter a plea in any of the charges against him. The trial [JURIST report] is scheduled to begin in March 2012. The ICTY reported to the UN Security Council on Thursday that the it is reaching a successful conclusion [JURIST report] since the last two fugitives wanted by the ICTY were captured. It is now finishing trials and appeals.