Ex-Karadzic ally in contempt for refusal to testify

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A Bosnian Serb ex-army general who led the 1995 attack on Srebrenica, one of the bloodiest episodes of the Bosnian war, has been charged with contempt after refusing to testify on behalf of former leader Radovan Karadzic, a UN war crimes court said Thursday.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ordered the indictment for contempt after Radislav Krstic's refused to testify on medical grounds following a subpoena.

"There were no medical reasons which would amount to good cause," the ICTY said in a statement.

Krstic, 65, has refused to appear as a defence witness in Karadzic's trial before the Hague-based tribunal, where he faces counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in Bosnia's 1992-95 war which left 100,000 people dead and displaced 2.2 million others.

Once the most powerful leader among Bosnian Serbs, Karadzic is accused in particular of masterminding the killings in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, where almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in July 1995 in the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Krstic himself is serving a 35-year sentence in a British jail after being convicted on appeal in 2004 for leading the attack in Srebrenica.

Karadzic asked Krstic in October last year to appear on his behalf, saying Krstic's testimony was necessary to show that the two men "never discussed or contemplated the commission of any crimes in Srebrenica".

Furthermore, Karadzic claims Krstic's testimony would establish that his former colleague had "never informed" him of the executions at Srebrenica.

Krstic has been ordered to appear on April 4 to answer the contempt charge, the ICTY said.

Contempt of court carries a maximum of seven years in prison or a 100,000 euro ($128,000) fine, or both.

Karadzic began his own defence at the ICTY in October, telling the court that he should be rewarded for doing all he could to avoid war in Bosnia and insisting that he was a tolerant man who had sought to reduce human suffering.

© 2013 AFP

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