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Karadzic Witness Arrested for Contempt

Milan Tupajic claims ill health prevented him from giving evidence to the tribunal.
By Alexandra Arkin

A witness who refused to testify in the trial of wartime Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic this week pleaded not guilty to contempt charges.

Milan Tupajic, former chief of the crisis staff and president of the Serb municipality of Sokolac in Republika Srpska, RS, is accused of knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by refusing to comply with two subpoenas ordering him to testify in the Karadzic trial, or showing he had good reason not to comply with the subpoenas.

Tupajic was arrested on December 13 by the Bosnian authorities and entered his plea on December 16.

Judges first subpoenaed Tupajic on September 23 to testify for the prosecution beginning on October 3.

Tupajic previously testified in the trial of former Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik, now serving a 20-year prison sentence for murder and other crimes against humanity.

He said he was unable to testify again due to health problems, and submitted medical documentation to support his claim that he was unable to travel to The Hague.

However, the chamber decided, based on the materials available to them, that this was not a valid excuse for him to fail to comply with the summons, and issued a second subpoena. The witness refused to comply with the second subpoena, for the same reasons he had given previously.

An order in lieu of an indictment for contempt was issued confidentially by the trial chamber on November 30, as well as a warrant for Tupajic’s arrest.

Following his arrest, Tupajic was transferred to the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague.

Prosecutors allege that Karadzic, the president of Bosnia's self-declared Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996, is responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which "contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory”.

He is also accused of planning and overseeing the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead, as well as the massacre of some 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run. Witness testimony in this trial got un derway in April 2010.

Alexandra Arkin is an IWPR intern in The Hague.

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