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Lukic Outside Contact Revoked

Prosecutors claim defendant may have intimidated family of witness.
By Rachel Irwin
The Hague tribunal has barred Bosnian Serb defendant Milan Lukic from communicating with anyone save his lawyers for two weeks.

The decision by the deputy registrar followed a request from prosecutor Dermot Groome, who claimed in a November 18 letter to the registrar that Lukic may have “called and intimidated the family of a prosecution witness” from his detention unit in The Hague.

The prosecutor plans to review Lukic’s phone transcripts; investigate all calls made to the family members of witnesses; and “seek appropriate measures” from the trial judges, stated the deputy registrar.

The request comes just a week after the final prosecution witness, Hamdija Vilic, testified that Lukic called him in June from his detention unit and offered him 100,000 euro in return for a fake alibi.

Vilic, a Bosniak who lost his family in a house fire that Lukic is alleged to have started, said he met with the defendant’s representatives in Bosnia but ultimately declined the offer.

Lukic is charged with 21 counts of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws of war – which include murder, extermination and severe physical and psychological abuses – that claimed the lives of at least 150 Bosniaks in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad alone. His cousin Sredoje is charged on 13 counts.

The defence was scheduled to have commenced its case this week, but lawyers requested more preparation time from the trial judges. The defence of Sredoje Lukic will now begin on December 1.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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