Judge Liu Daqun of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), asked on Friday Carmel Agius, the President of the Hague Court to report Serbia to the UN Security Council for refusing to arrest two officials of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) who the Court charged with contempt.
Petar Jojic and Vjerica Radeta were accused in October 2012 of influencing witnesses in the Hague trial against their party leader Vojislav Seselj by threatening, blackmailing and bribing them to change statements or not to testify.
Seselj was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to ten years in prison which had already spent in custody.
Daqun, also an acting judge in the Appeals Chamber for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said that by refusing to apprehend the two, Serbia violated its obligation to cooperate with the Hague Court.
The President of the Court had already reported Belgrade to the UN SC for ignoring the order in 2015.
Besides, judge Daqun said that in the last two years, Serbia had been neglecting two new arrest warrants for Jojic and Radeta issued in May 2019 and in December 2020.
Belgrade has been refusing to arrest and extradite the two, saying the local Law on Cooperation with The Hague Tribunal obliged the authorities to do that only in case of war crimes charges and not those accused of contempt.
The Hague Court rejected the explanation, arguing Serbia had to act in the same way regardless of charges, „as it did before.“
Serbia’s authorities said they were ready to put the two on trial at home.
After the closing of ICTY, its legal successor IRMCT ruled in 2017 to hand over Radicals’ trial to Serbia.
However, following an investigation into the safety of the witnesses against the two, judge Dequn in 2019 reversed the decision, ordering their arrest and extradition to The Hague.
He said potential witnesses’ „unequivocally“ stated they would not testify if the trial were before Serbia’s courts because of „serious concern for their families and their safety.“
IRMCT rejected Serbia’s appeal in February 2020 and confirmed the Chinese judge Dequn ruling.
In July 2020, he called on Serbia to say if it would carry out the order, but Belgrade remained adamant in revoking the local court decision saying it was not obliged to arrest those charged with contempt.