Karadzic Wants Del Ponte Probe
Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic this week asked for a special panel to be set up to investigate a possible case of contempt of court by former tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.
In the motion which Karadzic filed on September 27, he acknowledges that the alleged incident has no direct connection with his own trial in the Hague.
According to his submission, a cable written by United States embassy legal officers in The Hague on April 16, 2004 “indicates that Prosecutor Del Ponte disclosed confidential information to representatives of the United States” during the trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.
Milosevic died in 2006 before trial proceedings against him could be completed, and a judgement was never rendered.
The cable, subsequently made public on the Wikileaks website, was the result of a meeting between US embassy officials and Del Ponte. In it, the US officials note that Milosevic had “filed a confidential defence witness list” with judges.
“Reading directly from a list drawn from the filing, she [Del Ponte] said that the filing included former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of Defence William Cohen, Ambassador Christopher Hill, General Wesley Clark, and former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke,” the cable states.
Karadzic, whose own war crimes trial has been taking place at the tribunal since 2009, contends that the cable “provides reason to believe” that Del Ponte violated tribunal rules by “disclosing information… in knowing violation of an order of a chamber”.
In his submission, he asked tribunal president Judge Theodor Meron to appoint a “special chamber to consider this matter” since there is “no chamber presently seized of the Milosevic case”.
Karadzic admits that he does not have “legal standing to assert a violation of the rights of Slobodan Milosevic” but since the latter is no longer alive, there is “no one who could bring this matter to the attention of the appropriate authorities”.
“The victim of the disclosure of confidential information is not only President Milosevic. Dr Karadzic also has a personal interest in ensuring that mechanisms are in place to hold prosecutors accountable for disclosing confidential information about defence witnesses,” the accused states.
“If a prosecutor can disclose confidential information about defence witnesses with impunity, then Dr Karadzic can have no confidence that his filings are protected,” he concludes.
Rachel Irwin is IWPR’s Senior Reporter in The Hague.