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Radislav Krstić cleared of contempt charge

The Trial Chamber, by majority, today acquitted Radislav Krstić, former Commander of the Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS), of one charge of contempt of the Tribunal for failing to comply with, or to show good cause why he could not comply with, a subpoena in which he was ordered to testify in the case of Radovan Karadžić.

The majority, Judge Kwon dissenting, decided that Krstić had a reasonable excuse to refuse to testify, due to his medical condition. After having considered testimony and medical reports, the Chamber was satisfied that the accused is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, as contended by Krstić to be the grounds for his refusal to give evidence. Moreover, the Chamber found that that Krstić’s mental state had deteriorated since he received the subpoena to testify in theKaradžić case. Therefore, considering the entirety of the evidence, the majority concluded, Judge Kwon dissenting, that “the severity of the medical condition of the accused and the possible aggravation of that medical condition as a result of his testimony before the Karadžić Chamber, would amount to a reasonable excuse for the refusal of the accused to testify”.

On 23 October 2012, the Chamber issued a Subpoena ordering Krstić to appear and testify in the Karadžić case on 15 January 2013, in response to a Motion by the Defence. On 7 February 2013, in response to Krstić’s urgent Motion requesting the Chamber to stay the enforcement of the Subpoena on medical grounds, the Chamber ruled that his mental and physical health was such that he was able to testify.

Following Krstić’s refusal to testify on 7 February 2013, the Chamber ordered a more detailed report of his physical and mental health. On 13 March 2013, having reviewed the medical report, the Chamber found that there were no medical reasons which would prevent Krstić from complying with the subpoena. Following Krstić’s renewed refusal to testify on Monday 25 March, the Chamber issued an order in lieu of an indictment for contempt. At his initial appearance on 4 April 2013, Krstić pleaded not guilty to the charge of contempt. His trial was held on 28 May 2013.

Rule 77(A) of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence provides that the Tribunal may hold in contempt those who knowingly and wilfully interfere with its administration of justice, including any person who being a witness before a Chamber persistently refuses or fails to answer a question.

On 19 April 2004, Radislav Krstić was sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment following his conviction for aiding and abetting the genocide committed at Srebrenica in July 1995.