[JURIST] Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday rendered a judgment [summary, PDF] against Jelena Rasic, sentencing her to 12 months imprisonment on contempt charges. The judgment came following the acceptance of a plea agreement [JURIST] last week. Rasic was the former case manager for Bosnian war criminal Milan Lukic [judgment, PDF]. She pleaded guilty [amended indictment, PDF] last week to five counts of contempt against the tribunal last year. It was alleged that she “knowingly and willfully interfered with the Tribunal’s administration of justice” by obtaining false witness statements in the Lukic case in exchange of 1,000 euros. The court stated that Rasic’s conduct was serious in that it directly interfered with the administration of justice having far-reaching consequences to the international criminal jurisdiction:
With respect to aggravating circumstances, the Chamber notes the position of trust in which Jelena Rasic found herself in at the time of her crimes. Members of Defence teams are obligated to act conscientiously with full respect of the law and applicable rules, something which certainly also holds true for any professional involved in the proceedings before the Tribunal. As officers of justice, they must at all times be aware of their duties and must never allow themselves to affect others, such as prospective witnesses, in a criminal manner. However, Jelena Rasic did just that.
The court also considered numerous mitigating factors such as the possibility that Rasic was merely following directions, her relative young age and inexperience, her guilty plea and the fact that she is the only female detainee in the detention unit. Consequently, the court suspended the last eight months of the sentence as well as the 78 days Rasic already served in detention.
The ICTY is currently facing a suit [JURIST report] initiated by Vojislav Seselj [official website, in Serbian; JURIST news archive], a former Serb nationalist politician and war crimes suspect, for unreasonable delay in his trial. He claims USD $2.6 million in damages. He was charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes, and in October he was sentenced to 18 months [JURIST report] for releasing information of protected witnesses. In December the ICTY convicted a former Yugoslav intelligence officer [JURIST report] on charges of contempt for failing to testify. Court argued that such failure was against the interest of justice. In the same month, former Serbian general pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to charges for executing more than 30 Muslim prisoners. Earlier of the month, ICTY with International Criminal Tribune for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] reported [JURIST report] to the UN Security Council [official website] their progress in tracking and arresting fugitives for the tribunals’ mandates.