Forcing Journalist to Testify on War Crimes `Will Put Lives at Risk'
Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
THE LIVES of hundreds of foreign correspondents will be at risk if the United Nations war crimes tribunal carries out its threat to force a journalist to testify against a Bosnian Serb accused of genocide, a British barrister will claim today.
Jonathan Randel, a reporter with The Washington Post, faces seven years' imprisonment for refusing to comply with a subpoena ordering him to attend the tribunal in The Hague. Earlier this year Mr Randel was told to give details of a meeting he had with Radoslav Brdjanin, a politician who faces war crimes charges, including genocide. Mr Randel refused on the grounds that it would set a precedent, which would endanger the lives of correspondents reporting from areas of conflict.
In the first case of its kind, the international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC will ask the judges to set aside their order. He will argue that once it is known that reporters can be made to act as witnesses for the prosecution at subsequent tribunals it will encourage those carrying out atrocities to target journalists.
Mr Brdjanin and his close ally, General Momir Talic, are accused of masterminding the genocide of hundreds of Croats and Muslims during the Bosnian war.
General Talic, 59, and Mr Brdjanin, 53, were in charge of the Krajina area, which saw some of the worst ethnic-cleansing campaigns of the 1992-95 war. …