Serb paramilitary's lawyer accused in warcrimes court

22nd September 2010, Comments 0 comments

A lawyer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to bribing witnesses in a trial at the UN's Yugoslav war crimes court.

Jelena Rasic, 27, making her first appearance before judge Michele Picard of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, denied "knowingly and wilfully interfering with the administration of justice".

Rasic managed the defence of Milan Lukic, who the ICTY jailed for life in July 2009 for what judges described as the "callous" and "vicious" killings of Muslims during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

In the same trial his cousin Sredoje Lukic was jailed for 30 years for offences the court said exemplified "the worst acts of inhumanity", including burning people alive.

Rasic is accused of having paid Zuhdija Tabakovic 1,000 euros (1,329 dollars) in October 2008 to sign a false statement to be used in the case.

"The statement was false as Mr Tabakovic had no knowledge of the events in the statement," says the indictment read out in court on Wednesday.

Rasic allegedly asked Tabakovic to find two other men to sign similar statements, each of whom was also paid 1,000 euros.

Tabakovic was convicted in March this year of contempt of the tribunal and sentenced to three months' imprisonment.

Rasic was transferred to the tribunal's custody on Monday, and is being held at the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague.

An indictment for contempt of court against her was confirmed in a confidential decision on August 26.

Both Lukic cousins have lodged appeals against their convictions and sentences.

© 2010 AFP

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