1 Thursday, 28 June 2012
3 [Open session]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.01 a.m.
5 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Can the accused be brought in.
6 [The accused entered court]
7 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Good morning.
8 Mr. Registrar, will you please read the case.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you and good morning, Your Honours.
10 This is case number IT-03-67-R77.4, In the Matter of
11 Vojislav Seselj.
12 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Thank you.
13 Today, the Trial Chamber, consisting of Judges, Stefan Trechsel,
14 presiding; O-Gon Kwon and Melville Baird delivers its judgement on the
15 allegations of contempt of the Tribunal against the accused
16 Vojislav Seselj.
17 What follows is a summary, which does not form part of the
18 Trial Chamber's judgement. The only authoritative account of the
19 Trial Chamber's findings is the written, confidential judgement. This
20 will be provided to the accused after the hearing. A B/C/S translation
21 will be provided subsequently. A public redacted version of the
22 judgement will be available to the public.
23 In this case, it is the Trial Chamber itself which prosecutes the
24 accused for contempt of the Tribunal, punishable under the Tribunal's
25 inherent power and Rule 77 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The
1 initial indictment was issued on 9 May 2011 and was amended on
2 21st October, 2011, and, again, on 29 March 2012.
3 The accused is charged with one Count of contempt for knowingly
4 and wilfully interfering with the administration of justice by failing to
5 comply with the following Chamber's orders to remove from his web site
6 material revealing confidential information about a number of protected
8 On 16 December 2009, the Appeals Chamber ordered the removal of a
9 book the accused had authored and his Notice of Appeal and appeal brief
10 filed confidentially in a previous contempt case;
11 On 31st of January of 2011, Trial Chamber II ordered the accused
12 to remove a second book and two confidential submissions;
13 On 17 February 2011, Trial Chamber II ordered the accused to
14 remove a third book and a confidential submission;
15 On 15 July 2011, Trial Chamber II ordered the accused to remove a
16 fourth book;
17 And on 3rd November, 2011, Trial Chamber II ordered the accused
18 to remove a confidential submission.
19 These orders were issued in several cases, including in the main
20 trial against Vojislav Seselj and in previous contempt proceedings where
21 he was found guilty for having published confidential information.
22 At the initial appearance on 6 July 2011, and the further
23 appearance on 17 April 2012, the accused pleaded not guilty to the
24 charges. At the further appearance on 4 November 2011, the accused did
25 not enter a plea; wherefore a plea of not guilty was entered on his
1 behalf, pursuant to Rule 62 at a further appearance on 11 November 2011.
2 Several pre-trial matters arose in this case, which have bearing
3 on the trial itself. The Chamber will describe them briefly, before
4 coming to its substantive findings.
5 At a Status Conference on 19 March 2012, the accused stated that
6 he would testify himself and that a legal associate of his, assigned to
7 the accused's main trial, would conduct the examination-in-chief. The
8 accused also stated that he intended to request the disqualification of
9 Judge Kwon. In a written decision of 24 April 2012, the Chamber ordered
10 the accused to file his request for disqualification of Judge Kwon in
11 writing within seven days of reception of the translation of the
12 Chamber's 24 April decision. By the same deadline, the accused was also
13 to file his witness an exhibit lists.
14 On 15 May 2012, and in compliance with the deadline set, the
15 accused filed a witness list. However, he did not file any written
16 request for the disqualification of Judge Kwon. According to the witness
17 list, the accused would be the only witness in the case.
18 On 30 May 2012, the Chamber was informed that the Registry's
19 Office of Legal Aid and Detention Matters, OLAD, had granted the
20 accused's request that a legal associate of his from the main trial be
21 allowed a privileged visit to the Detention Unit in preparation for the
22 trial in this case. OLAD had, however, denied the accused's request for
23 his Case Manager in the main trial to participate.
24 The Chamber scheduled the pre-trial conference for 12 June 2012,
25 with trial to be held immediately thereafter. It also ruled that the
1 legal associate could conduct the examination-in-chief of the accused.
2 At the pre-trial conference, the accused submitted, inter alia, that he
3 had been denied the right to legal assistance due to OLAD's denial of his
4 request regarding the Case Manager. The accused requested
5 reconsideration of the Chamber's decision so as to allow the Case Manager
6 to appear. Having adjourned to deliberate, the Chamber ruled that it
7 would not reconsider its decision. The accused then stated that in the
8 absence of his legal advisor and Case Manager, he would not be able to
9 present a Defence because there was no one to conduct the
11 The Chamber held that this concluded the pre-trial conference and
12 moved to trial. It noted that the accused had received the indictment
13 and the supporting material in the case. The Chamber then invited the
14 accused to present a Defence by taking the stand, stating that it would
15 conduct the examination. The accused repeated that he was unable to
16 present a Defence and that he did not wish to participate in the
17 proceedings until he was given the possibility of having both the legal
18 associate and the Case Manager present.
19 After another adjournment to consider the accused's submissions,
20 the Chamber ruled that the trial would be adjourned, one week, until the
21 18th of June, 2012. The Chamber also repeated that the legal associate
22 was welcome but that the use of a Case Manager was not warranted. It
23 also gave the accused a warning to the effect that if he persisted in his
24 attitude, the Chamber would go on with the trial.
25 On 18 June 2012, the legal associate was not present. The
1 Chamber invited the accused to take the stand, noting that it would give
2 him the possibility to state his view on the facts of the case rather
3 than question him. The accused stated that he refused to mount a
4 Defence, submitting that he had been denied his procedural rights to have
5 a legal associate and a Case Manager present.
6 Following this, the Chamber noted that all material germane to
7 the trial was on the record and thereafter invited the accused to make
8 final submissions. In his final submissions, the accused argued,
9 inter alia, that the proceedings were biased and noted that the Case
10 Manager had been assigned by OLAD to the accused's main trial and to
11 previous contempt proceedings. The accused also submitted that the
12 Chamber had prevented him from mounting a Defence. The Chamber
13 thereafter closed the trial proceedings.
14 I will now turn to the merits of this case.
15 The Tribunal possesses an inherent jurisdiction to ensure that
16 its exercise of the jurisdiction given to it by the Statute is not
17 frustrated and that its basic judicial functions are safe-guarded.
18 Rule 77(A) provides that the Tribunal, in the exercise of this inherent
19 power, may hold in contempt those who knowingly and wilfully interfere
20 with its administration of justice.
21 The material element of the crime of interfering with the
22 administration of justice includes any deliberate conduct which creates a
23 real risk that confidence in the Tribunal's ability to grant effective
24 protective measures would be undermined. A violation of a court order,
25 as such, constitutes an interference. The mental element is established
1 where an accused wilfully and knowingly interfered with the
2 administration of justice.
3 The Chamber has examined the case under Rule 77(A) as opposed to
4 Rule 77(A)(ii) because the accused is charged with contempt for failing
5 to comply with the Chamber's orders to remove confidential material from
6 the web site, not with disclosing the confidential material as such.
7 With respect to the material element, the Chamber has found that
8 by virtue of the orders issued by various Chambers, the accused was
9 obliged to remove the books and confidential submissions from his web
10 site. It has been established that he failed to comply with these
11 orders. It is not disputed that the accused has been in a position to
12 take positive measures to remove, or cause to be removed, the material in
13 question. In this respect, the Trial Chamber has noted his statements
14 regarding certain submissions made at a hearing in the main Seselj trial
15 and his written submissions filed before Trial Chamber II, that he did
16 not intend to remove one of the books. The Chamber had also considered
17 statements of the accused during the trial in the second contempt case
18 against him, which show that he controls what is placed on the web site.
19 Lastly, the Chamber has considered a submission filed before the Chamber
20 by the web site's registrant that the accused is the "sole owner of the
21 web site and exclusively decides what will appear."
22 With respect to the mental element, the Chamber has noted the
23 numerous receipts which the accused has submitted confirming receipt both
24 of the orders with which he has failed to comply, and underlying
25 decisions and submissions. The Chamber has noted that the accused
1 explicitly stated with respect to one of his books that he did not intend
2 to comply with the relevant order to remove it. The Chamber has also
3 noted his statement to Trial Chamber III in the main Seselj trial, that
4 he had confidential material on the web site pertaining to a protected
6 For these reasons, the Chamber is satisfied that the material
7 element of contempt, pursuant to Rule 77(A), has been proved beyond a
8 reasonable doubt and that the accused was aware of the orders and his
9 obligation to remove the confidential material from the web site.
10 Therefore, the Chamber has found the accused guilty of contempt of the
11 Tribunal for knowingly and wilfully interfering with its administration
12 of justice by failing to comply with Chamber's orders.
13 Turning now to the issue of sentencing, pursuant to Rule 77(G).
14 The maximum penalty that may be imposed on a person found to be in
15 contempt is a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven years or a fine
16 not exceeding 100.000 euros, or both. Factors to be taken into account
17 in determining sentence are the gravity of the contempt and the need to
18 deter repetition and similar conduct by others. The Chamber had also
19 considered whether there are any aggravating or mitigating circumstances.
20 This trial concerns a grave case of contempt of court arising out
21 of failure to comply with Tribunal orders. The orders and decisions of
22 which the accused is aware impose upon him an obligation to remove, or
23 cause to be removed, the confidential material from the web site.
24 Non-compliance with such orders is a serious matter, which not only
25 interferes with the administration of justice but risks undermining
1 public confidence in the Tribunal and, thereby, the effectiveness of its
2 judicial function, including its ability to grant effective protective
3 measures where necessary.
4 The Chamber has considered the accused's repeated defiance of the
5 Tribunal's authority to be an aggravating factor. The repetitious nature
6 of his conduct is demonstrated by his continuing refusal to obey the
7 orders requiring him to remove confidential material which he has
8 disclosed on many occasions over the course of several years. This
9 flagrant disregard for Chamber's orders amounts to a direct attack upon
10 the judicial authority of the Tribunal.
11 The accused has two previous convictions for contempt of court.
12 In both cases, he was convicted for revealing confidential information
13 and evidence relating to protected witnesses in two of the books at issue
14 in the present case. These convictions have been considered as
15 aggravating factors.
16 The Trial Chamber has considered whether there exist any
17 mitigating circumstances, such as a indication of remorse, but it holds
18 that there are none.
19 For these reasons, the Trial Chamber will impose a penalty which
20 recognises the gravity of the accused's crime in this case and the need
21 for deterrence.
22 Mr. Seselj, would you please stand up.
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Me to get up for you? You're not
24 normal. You are the scum of this world. Why would I stand up for you?
25 I'm a duke, after all.
1 JUDGE TRECHSEL: Having found you guilty of one Count of contempt
2 of the Tribunal, pursuant to Rules 54 and 77 of the Rules, the Chamber,
3 by majority, Judge Trechsel dissenting, sentence you to a single term of
4 imprisonment of two years.
5 I have appended a dissenting opinion concerning the sentence
6 imposed. I would have favoured a punishment considerably less severe.
7 The hearing is adjourned.
8 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 9.27 a.m.