Yugoslav court orders probe into witness intimidation claims

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The UN's Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said Wednesday it had ordered a probe into claims that prosecutors intimidated witnesses in the trial of ultra-nationalist Serb leader Vojislav Seselj.

"The (trial) chamber ordered the registrar to appoint amicus curiae (a Latin term meaning "friend of the court") to look into the allegations," spokesman Christian Chartier of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said in a statement.

The person tasked with the probe, someone who is not involved in the trial, would report to judges within six months "whether there were sufficient grounds to initiate contempt proceedings" against investigators in the office of the prosecutor.

Chartier said four candidates were being considered for the job, and a decision was expected "relatively soon".

A court document lists several allegations of investigators working for the prosecution in Seselj's trial obtaining statements by threat, intimidation or bribery.

Seselj is standing trial for his alleged role in the persecution of Croat, Muslim and other non-Serbs and their expulsion from areas of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia between 1991 and 1993.

He has himself been the subject of two procedures for contempt of the court for allegedly revealing the names of protected witnesses.

© 2010 AFP

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