Serbian Ministry of Interior’s Search for Hague Tribunal’s Protected Witness

The family of protected witness VS-033 in the Vojislav Šešelj case contacted the Humanitarian Law Center because members of the Serbian Ministry of Interior entered two of his apartments in Belgrade on 16 April 2008 without a search warrant or a decision for undertaking any other police activity.

Eight uniformed police officers and five officers in civilian clothes entered the apartment, in which the protected witness’s mother and children live at around 7:00. Police officers handcuffed the witness’s 21-year-old son because they thought he was the protected witness. They released him when they established that it was his son. An hour later, the same or some other group of police officers entered another apartment in which one of the witness’s friends lives with her son. They harassed the boy and demanded he tell them where his mother was and what the protected witness’s address was. They left a message for the boy’s mother to report to police for questioning and threatened that she would be in trouble if she failed to appear. The protected witness’s friend was informed in the questioning she attended at the set time that the police was looking for the protected witness because of the bomb set under journalist Dejan Anastasijević’ window in the night between 13 and 14 April 2007.

The actions of the Serbian Ministry of Interior in the case of protected witness VS-033 raises suspicions that the Serbian Ministry of Interior is following the conclusions and directions of the Hague indictee Vojislav Šešelj, presented by him on 2 April 2008, when he examined the protected witness. On this occasion, Vojislav Šešelj accused the protected witness that he put a bomb under Dejan Anastasijević’s window in agreement with him [Dejan Anastasijević] and Nataša Kandić, the Humanitarian Law Center Executive Director.

Since the Republic of Serbia Prosecutor’s Office has not yet reacted to the allegations presented, the Humanitarian Law Center sent a request to the Prosecutor’s Office demanding that they, in accordance with the law, address the Hague Tribunal and ask for examination of defendant Vojislav Šešelj and protected witness VS-033, and to directly subpoena and examine Dejan Anastasijević and Nataša Kandić. Besides this, HLC calls on the Republic of Serbia Prosecutor’s Office to establish upon whose order did Serbian Ministry of Interior organize the search for the protected witness since it was an unlawful action and derogation of the existing procedures in the cooperation of the Serbian institutions with the Hague Tribunal. HLC also calls on the Republic of Serbia Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the credibility of allegations given by the Hague indictee Šešelj and witnesses – former members of the Serb Radical Party – that they were exposed to threats and blackmails by Hague investigators and that Nataša Kandić offered them money and a good life if they testified against Šešelj. HLC would like to draw attention to the fact that the former Serb Radical Party volunteers frequently verify statements before municipality and district courts in Serbia in which they claim that they had given statements to the Hague investigators [in the period from the year of 2000 until 2006] under threats and blackmails.

HLC would like to remind the public once more that the unlawful actions of members of the Serbian Ministry of Interior seriously endanger the basic cooperation of the state of Serbia with The Hague Tribunal.