Prosecution Dismisses Karadzic's Phone Intercepts Claim

Defendant wants investigation into his assertion that private conversations were monitored.

Prosecution Dismisses Karadzic's Phone Intercepts Claim

Defendant wants investigation into his assertion that private conversations were monitored.

Radovan Karadzic in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)
Radovan Karadzic in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)
Tuesday, 4 February, 2014

An independent “friend of the court” should not be appointed to investigate claims made by Radovan Karadzic that the United States government intercepted privileged communication between himself and his legal advisor, the Office of the Prosecutor at the Hague tribunal said this week.

Karadzic’s assertion that the US government listened in to his calls was supported by “an array of unrelated documents and items generally concerning interception of communications by the National Security Agency of the United States and alleging an unspecified interest by the United States in the work of the [tribunal],” the prosecution stated in its January 28 response to a request from the defendant.

On October 28, Karadzic sent a letter to the US embassy in The Hague asking whether it had “intercepted any of his privileged communication or that of his legal advisor, Peter Robinson.” The embassy sent a response on December 6, declining to answer the question.

In a January 20 submission, Karadzic state that there was a “body of publicly available evidence that the US may have engaged in such behaviour”.

He referred to a cable released by Wikileaks stating that the US “obtained information from intercepted phone calls between [late Serbian president] Slobodan Milosevic and his wife”.

Karadzic also quoted Frederik Harhoff – a tribunal judge who was recently disqualified for statements he made in a personal email – as saying in a news article that he was sure that “all judges are having their email monitored”.

Karadzic asserted that the US’s interest in his case was “well documented”. He claimed that after his 2008 arrest, the US “conducted a diplomatic campaign not to lift sanctions which had been put in place against Karadzic’s family as a coercive measure to obtain his surrender”.

In addition, Karadzic and his legal advisor conducted a “full blown investigation” into whether American diplomat Richard Holbrooke had promised him immunity at the tribunal, with frequent conversations both in person and over the phone about these matters.

Karadzic also sought material from the US government “necessary to his defence”, and filed five motions for binding orders.

“Dr Karadzic has been in engaged in correspondence and litigation with the United States for most of the duration of his case from 2008-2013,” the filing states.

Given the recent revelations made by Edward Snowden about large scale surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency, “there is every reason to believe that privileged communications of Dr Karadzic and his legal advisor Peter Robinson concerning their efforts to obtain information believed to be contrary to the interests of the United States have been intercepted”.

If that was the case, Karadzic contended, the US could be responsible for interfering with the “administration of justice” and should be investigated.

The prosecution disputed Karadzic’s assumption that “as a result of his own actions, the United States must be intercepting his communications with his legal advisor and that the United States’ rejection of his request… was in bad faith.”

The prosecution maintained that there was no evidence to support the allegations, and that therefore the accused’s request to appoint an independent “amicus curiae” – or “friend of the court” – to investigate should be dismissed.

Judge Bakone Justice Moloto will now consider his decision.

Rachel Irwin is IWPR’s Senior Reporter in The Hague.

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