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Tolimir Witness Contempt Charge

Tribunal says Dragomir Pecanac obstructed all attempts to facilitate his safe transfer to The Hague.
By Rachel Irwin

A prosecution witness in the trial of former Bosnian Serb army general Zdravko Tolimir was charged with contempt this week for refusing to testify.

The indictment has not been made public, but according to a statement released by The Hague tribunal this week, a subpoena was issued on September 2 ordering Dragomir Pecanac, a former security and intelligence officer in the Bosnian Serb army, to testify as a witness in the trial.

Pecanac, however, “obstructed all attempts by the tribunal to facilitate his safe transfer to The Hague”, said the tribunal statement.

He thus not only failed to comply with the subpoena, but also failed to show “good cause” for why he could not cooperate, it said.

A warrant for his arrest was issued on September 21 and he was subsequently transferred to the United Nations detention unit in The Hague.

Pecanac did not enter a plea at his initial appearance on October 10 but according to tribunal rules, he has ten days from his first appearance to do so. Another hearing will take place on October 19.

While he briefly appeared in the witness box in the Tolimir trial on October 10, Pecanac still refused to testify. Though the reasons for this remain unclear, Pecanac’s name has been mentioned by other witnesses in connection with the disappearance of Avdo Palic, who commanded Bosnian government forces in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Zepa during the war.

Shortly after the fall of the enclave in July 1995, Palic was taken prisoner by Bosnian Serb forces. His remains were finally identified in August 2009, after being found in a mass grave.

Tolimir, who represents himself, was deputy commander for military intelligence and security in the Bosnian Serb army main staff during the war, reporting directly to Ratko Mladic, who was arrested last May after 16 years on the run.

Tolimir is charged with eight counts, including genocide, extermination, murder, and the forced transfer and deportation of Bosniaks from the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves in July 1995. Some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were murdered at various execution sites in the days following the fall of Srebrenica.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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