Carla Del Ponte, the former war crimes prosecutor who put Balkan warlords and political leaders behind bars, is to be investigated over claims she allowed the use of bullying and bribing of witnesses, or tainted evidence.
Carla Del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Photograph: Laurent Gillieron/AP
Carla Del Ponte investigated over illegal evidence
Former war crimes prosecutor accused of allowing bullying and bribing of witnesses in trial of alleged Serbian warlord Vojislav Seselj
Judges at the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague today ordered an independent inquiry into the practices of Del Ponte and two prominent serving prosecutors, Hildegard Ürtz-Retzlaff and Daniel Saxon, after complaints from witnesses that they had been harassed, paid, mistreated and their evidence tampered with.
It is the first time in the tribunal's 17 years in operation that top prosecutors have faced potential contempt of court rulings.
During her eight years as chief prosecutor, Del Ponte, a determined Swiss investigator now serving as her country's ambassador to Argentina, was a combative and divisive figure. She left her post in 2007.
The allegations against her concern the working practices of her team of investigators in the ongoing prosecution for war crimes of the Serbian politician, Vojislav Seselj, a notorious warlord.
"Some of the witnesses had referred to pressure and intimidation to which they were subjected by investigators for the prosecution," said a statement from the judge in the Seselj case. "The prosecution allegedly obtained statements illegally, by threatening, intimidating and/or buying [witnesses] off."
One Serbian witness said he was offered a well-paid job in the US in return for testimony favourable to the prosecution.
"The statements mention sleep deprivation during interviews, psychological pressuring, an instance of blackmail (the investigators offered relocation in exchange for the testimony they hoped to obtain), threats (one, for example, about preparing an indictment against a witness if he refused to testify), or even illegal payments of money."
An independent investigator, expected to be a French magistrate, is to report on the allegations within six months. Prosecutors in The Hague rejected the allegations while promising to co-operate with the inquiry.
"We believe our staff have conducted their work in a professional way within the rules," said Frederick Swinnen, special adviser to Serge Brammertz of Belgium, who succeeded Del Ponte as chief prosecutor.
The Criminalization of Justice at The Hague: Former Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte Faces Charges of Witness Intimidation
by Benjamin Schett
Global Research, September 7, 2010
Carla del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, has recently been confronted with charges of intimidation of witnesses, which has led to the tribunal’s opening an investigation into the matter. This was made public by the British newspaper "The Guardian" in an article dated August 18th 2010. According to this article, the court will nominate an external expert to examine the accusations and decide within six months whether a lawsuit is justified. Del Ponte’s former close associates, Daniel Saxon and Hildegard Ürtz-Retzlaff, are affected by the accusation as well. The charges were brought forward by the Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj, who himself is a Hague prisoner. The alleged victims of intimidation are several witnesses of the prosecution in his trial.Seselj voluntarily surrendered to The Hague in 2003, this in spite of the fact that he does not recognise the court, arguing that it has never been legitimised by the UN general assembly, which in fact should be mandatory according to the UN Charter. The trial against the politician, who once presented himself as the nationalist alternative to the more Yugoslav-oriented former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, finally started at the end of 2006 and is still going on today, with several interruptions and so far with no relevant results.
 See Hannes Hofbauer in "Neues Deutschland", 26 10 2009:
 See for example the Dutch documentary "De zaak Milosevic”:
 See trial transcript from 26 07 2002: http://www.milosevic-trial.org/trial/2002-07-26.htm.
 Civikov, Germinal: "Serbrenica. Der Kronzeuge", Wien 2009.
 Translated from German: http://www.schattenblick.de/infopool/geist/meinung/gmeid-96.html.
 See trial transcript, 16 September 2005, page 44264: http://www.milosevic-trial.org/trial/2005-09-16.htm.
 Dorin, Alexander: "Srebrenica. Die Geschichte eines salonfähigen Rassismus", Berlin 2010.
 B92, 23 August 2010:
 See interview with Alexander Dorin in "junge Welt", 10 July 2010: http://www.jungewelt.de/2010/07-10/051.php.
 See trial transcript, November 3th 2003, page 28411:
 See: Interview with Corwin in "junge Welt", 31 7 2008: