Danish judge concerned over pressure at UN war crimes court

By LENNART SIMONSSON | Deutsche Presse-Agentur | Published: June 13, 2013

COPENHAGEN — A Danish judge has voiced concern over recent acquittals handed down by the UN war crimes tribunal set up to try major crimes committed during the violent disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.

Frederik Harhoff, a judge since 2007 at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said he faced "a deep professional and moral dilemma," according to a confidential email published Thursday by Danish tabloid BT.

"The worst of it is the suspicion that some of my colleagues have been exposed to short-term political pressure and this completely changes the premises of my work to serve the principles of justice and reason," Harhoff wrote.

Among the rulings he mentioned was the 2012 acquittal of former Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. The appeal chamber acquitted them of ordering atrocities in a bid to cleanse Croatia of ethnic Serbs and ordered their immediate release. In 2011 the two had been sentenced to 24 and 18 years respectively.

Harhoff said the pressure to overturn rulings could possibly be traced to "the military establishment" in other countries, including the United States, that fear the tribunal's rulings could result in high-ranking officers being sentenced for crimes committed by subordinates.

Harhoff, 69, declined to comment when contacted by BT.

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