After repeated failures on the part of the prosecution to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence to him, Radovan Karadzic requests the court to investigate whether members of the Office of the prosecutor should be charged with contempt of court

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

Three months after he rested his case at his own trial, Radovan Karadzic submitted a motion to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals to launch an investigation against the prosecution for purported contempt of court. The Mechanism is about to take over the tasks of the Tribunal in The Hague. In his latest motion the accused petitioned the Mechanism President, Theodor Meron, to appoint a judge to consider if there are grounds to designate a prosecutor amicus curiae to investigate if in his case the prosecution has violated the rules concerning the disclosure of potentially exculpatory evidence and other documents relevant for the defense.

Karadzic contends that the prosecutors are guilty of contempt of court because they have failed repeatedly to disclose various documents to the defense during the trial. The documents included witness statements, other documents necessary for the preparation of the defense of the accused, or documents containing potentially exculpatory information.

The motion gives several examples dating from November 2012 to the end of the trial. During that time even Judge Kwon’s Trial Chamber took note of the prosecution’s omissions and ordered them to urgently disclose documents to the defense. Although the prosecution is under an obligation to disclose documents relevant for the defense, in particular potentially exculpatory materials, the prosecution has often failed to do so. The reasons vary: from negligence to inability to go through voluminous material. No one has been convicted of contempt of court for failing to disclose the documents on time. The judges would usually reprimand the parties if they failed to meet their disclosure obligations.

This time Karadzic hopes an investigation would be launched in order to punish the prosecution because in the meantime the jurisdiction over such cases has been transferred from the Tribunal to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. In line with the Rules of the Mechanism, anyone found guilty of contempt of court could be fined with up to 50,000 euros or sentenced to seven years in prison.

The former Republika Srpska president is charged with double genocide in the municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 and in Srebrenica in 1995. Karadzic is also on trial for other crimes against non-Serb civilians and UN staff during the war in BH. The parties rested their cases at his trial in February 2014. Closing arguments of the defense and prosecution have been slated for 29 September 2014.