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Vujin contempt case

Belgrade lawyer Milan Vujin ordered to pay fine for contempt of court

The appeals chamber last week upheld a contempt of court conviction against Milan Vujin, a Belgrade lawyer accused by his former client Dusko Tadic of working "against his best interests". (See Tribunal Update No. 110).

Tadic was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1997 for crimes committed in the Omarska and Keraterm detention camps in the Prijedor area of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The appeals chamber upheld its initial contempt verdict of January 31, 2000 (see Tribunal Update No. 162) and dismissed his appeal. Vujin was ordered to pay a fine of 15,000 Dutch guilders ($ 7,000) to the tribunal registry within 21 days.

The appeals chamber ruled the registrar ought to consider striking Vujin from its list of registered lawyers or suspending him for a suitable period, as well as reporting his conduct to the professional body to which he belongs.

Vujin was president of the Serbian Bar when he, according to the appeals chamber, "knowingly and willfully intended to interfere with the administration of justice".

In its judgement of February 27, 2001, the appeals chamber found by a majority of 4 to 1 (judge Patricia Wald dissenting) that a person it found guilty of contempt must be entitled to challenge the conviction.

Given the special circumstances, the chamber decided it was appropriate to consider the merits of the appellant's complaints.

The appeals chamber nevertheless held that the evidence relied upon for its ruling in the first instance "could have been accepted by any reasonable tribunal" and that the evaluation of the evidence was in no way "wholly erroneous".

Accordingly there was no basis for overturning the original finding of fact. (For details on Vujin's contempt case, see Tribunal Updates Nos. 110, 123, 141, 142 and 162)