THE HAGUE: Interpol has issued high-priority red notices for the arrest of three Serbians, two of them lawyers, accused of witness tampering, the UN's former Yugoslavia war crimes court announced today.
"The red notices, which seek the location and arrest of the accused Petar Jojic, Jovo Ostojic and Vjerica Radeta were issued by Interpol at the request of the Tribunal's Registry," the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said.
"The red notices are effective as from 16 March 2017," it added in a statement issued in The Hague. The case against the three suspects has dragged on for more than two years, after the ICTY issued arrest warrants in January 2015 for three associates of radical Serb Vojislav Seselj. Defence lawyers Jojic and Radeta, and former war-time associate, Ostojic were charged in December 2014 with "having threatened, intimidated, offered bribes to, or otherwise interfered with two witnesses," in two cases involving Seselj.
Ultranationalist Seselj was acquitted in his main trial in March 2016 of nine charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity arising from the 1990s Balkan conflicts. But the three other suspects remain wanted for trial on the separate charges, and the court has grown increasingly angry because of Belgrade's refusal to hand them over.
Tribunal judge Alphons Orie in February instructed court officials to request the Interpol red notices, saying it was clear "Serbia's continued non-compliance with its obligations obstructs the course of justice." Interpol says on its website that red notices can give "high, international visibility to cases". Wanted persons are also flagged to border officials "making travel difficult."
The ICTY judges in 2012 handed Seselj a two-year jail term in the separate contempt case. Seselj was allowed to travel back to Serbia in 2015 to undergo cancer treatment while awaiting the verdict in his main trial, which he did not attend. Since then, he has repeatedly lashed out at the UN tribunal, and his Radical Party was returned to parliament in Belgrade in April elections.