Hague wants Serbia to amend law and extradite Radicals

The Hague Trial Chamber in the case against three SRS officials says Serbia must urgently amend its law to confirm with the country's international obligations.

Source: Tanjug

Among these obligations, according to the "Decision in Relation to the Cooperation of the Government of the Republic of Serbia with the Tribunal," published on August 1, is the arrest and extradition of Petar Jojic, Vjerica Radeta, and Jovo Ostojic.

These three officials from Vojislav Seselj's Serb Radical Party (SRS) are wanted by the Hague Tribunal (ICTY) on contempt of court charges.

"Serbia cannot point to its domestic law to justify non-compliance with its international obligations. If Serbia's domestic law is not in line with its international obligations, it needs to urgently ensure that its law is amended to guarantee conformity with these obligations," states the document.

The Trial Chamber also said that Serbia on May 18 informed the tribunal of a pre-trial judge's and the Belgrade High Court's decisions "without making submissions as to how these decisions impact the current situation, and more particularly its obligation to cooperate with the tribunal."

Namely, the Belgrade court at the time concluded that the Republic of Serbia has a legal obligation to extradite only those accused of grave war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, while the three Radicals are wanted on contempt charges, that is, are accused of influencing witnesses in the case against Seselj, that concluded earlier this year with his acquittal.

The Trial Chamber added that it "understands the position of Serbia to be that it has exhausted all legal avenues to execute the arrest warrants, and, as the courts have decided that the accused cannot be transferred to the Tribunal, there is nothing that Serbia can do in relation to the execution of the arrest warrants."

"At the core of this matter lies the question whether states are obligated to cooperate with the Tribunal in contempt cases or only in cases involving alleged violations of international humanitarian law," it added.

Analyzing Article 29 of the Tribunal's Statute, the Chamber concluded that Serbia is in fact under obligation to cooperate "on any request for assistance," including in contempt matters.

"The Chamber notes that throughout the proceedings, Serbia did not argue that it has no obligation to cooperate with the Tribunal, and even acknowledged, by way of reference to the government's undertakings in response to orders issued by the Chamber, that its obligation to cooperate extends to contempt matters," the document said, and added.

"Moreover, the decisions of the pre-trial judge and the High Court are at odds with years of cooperation between Serbia and the Tribunal, including on matters such the arrest and transfer of accused in contempt cases."

The Chamber for this reason repeated its demand that Serbia submit bi-weekly reports on the steps undertaken to ensure that its obligations are met.


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