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UN court orders arrest of two lawyers in Serbian war crimes case

The Yugoslav war crimes court has unveiled arrest warrants for two lawyers and an associate of the Serbian nationalist Vojislav Seselj. The suspects allegedly bribed and intimidated witnesses during the Seselj trial.

The Hague-based tribunal demands the arrest of lawyers Peter Jojic and Vjerica Radeta from Seselj's defense team, as well as his wartime ally Jovo Ostojic, officials said on Tuesday.

The three have been "charged with contempt of the Tribunal for allegedly having threatened, intimidated, offered bribes to, or otherwise interfered with two witnesses," the war crimes court said.

According to the warrants, Jojic and Ostojic approached a prosecution witness in the trial to the Serbian firebrand nationalist and proposed to him to give testimony in favor of the defense.

Lawyer Jojic then dictated a statement with the help of Ostojic, creating an account which was "untruthful in that it contained false allegations against the prosecution and misrepresented the role and responsibilities of Seselj during the war."

In the end, the witness "signed the statement without reading it," the court papers say.

In a separate event, Seselj's counselor Radeta allegedly promised "help" to another witness if he came over to the defense side.

The witness than received several monthly payments of 500 euro ($530) up until his testimony.

'Ready and waiting'

Judges also requested Belgrade to "immediately report... if they are unable to execute this warrant of arrest and indicate the reasons for such non-execution."

On Tuesday, Radeta described the Hague tribunal as "anti-Serbian" in a comment to the N1 news channel. Neither he nor anybody else in Seselj's defense team was "blackmailing" the witnesses, added the high-ranking official in Seselj's fringe Radical party.

"Let (the court) do their job. I am ready and waiting," she said.

Seselj faces numerous charges, including inciting others to commit murder and ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Croats in former Yugoslavia.

The far-right politician has been diagnosed with cancer and temporarily released late last year to seek treatment in Serbia.

dj/gsw (AFP, AP, Beta)

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