News 18 Aug 17

UN Court Ends Case Against Serbian Radical

The Hague Tribunal has terminated proceedings against Jovo Ostojic, a member of Vojislav Seselj’s nationalist Serbian Radical Party who was wanted for alleged witness intimidation, after he died in June.

Dragana Erjavec
BIRN
Sarajevo
Jovo Ostojic. Photo: Beta.

The Hague Tribunal announced on Friday that it has terminated proceedings against Ostojic after he died on June 30 this year, and ordered the cancellation of an international warrant for his arrest.

Ostojic was charged alongside fellow Serbian Radical Party members Vjerica Radeta and Petar Jojic of being in contempt of court for threatening witnesses at their leader Vojislav Seselj’s trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

They were also accused of blackmailing protected witnesses and offering them bribes of 500 euros not to testify at Seselj’s trial.

The Hague Tribunal ordered Serbia to detain and extradite all three Radicals and Interpol issued ‘red notices’ for their arrest in March this year.

But Serbia refused, citing a ruling last year by the Belgrade Higher Court, which said that the Serbian authorities can only arrest people wanted by the Hague Tribunal who are charged with war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity

Ostojic had said he would never go to The Hague voluntarily to face the contempt charges, insisting he had no intention of “surrendering himself alive”.

He also denied the charges against him.

“I did not pressure witnesses or offer them 500 euros. I can barely make ends meet, everyone around me knows that. Both my wife and I work as seasonal labourers. Where would I get 500 euros?” he said in an interview with Serbia’s Blic newspaper in 2015, according to the B92 website.

His fellow Radicals, Vjerica Radeta and Petar Jojic, are still wanted by the international court.

Their leader Seselj was acquitted of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia by the ICTY in March last year, but the prosecution has launched an appeal.

The Radical Party leader was allowed to return to Belgrade in November 2014 after being granted temporary release by the ICTY on humanitarian grounds to undergo cancer treatment.

He then refused to return to The Hague and was not in court for the verdict in his trial last year.

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