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Probe into practices under war crimes prosecutor

An inquiry has been ordered into methods of “possible intimidation or pressure” under former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte in the case of a Serbian politician.

This content was published on August 22, 2010 - 16:29

Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ordered the independent inquiry into practices used under Del Ponte, who is the current Swiss ambassador to Argentina, and two serving prosecutors, Hildegard Uertz-Retzleff and Daniel Saxon.

The probe will look into methods "albeit indirect, exerted by certain investigators for the prosecution" in the case of Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj, currently on trial for alleged war crimes, and "techniques used to obtain preliminary written statements from witnesses".

An independent lawyer has been tasked with reviewing over the next six months whether there are grounds for initiating contempt proceedings.

The British Guardian newspaper reported that witnesses said they were subjected to “sleep deprivation during interviews, psychological pressuring”, blackmail, threats and illegal payment of money, according to a statement by the Seselj case judge.

Del Ponte was quoted in the Ticino-based Sunday newspaper Il Caffe as saying the allegations were "absurd" and that she had a "clear conscience".

Also reacting to the decision, the office for the present chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, said Seselj's claim was based on "false allegations" and some of the allegations were "completely implausible".

Del Ponte was the chief prosecutor at the tribunal from 1999-2007 and subsequently published a book about her time prosecuting war criminals.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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