THE HAGUE | 13.05.2005.

FOUR MONTHS' SUSPENDED SENTENCE FOR KOSTA BULATOVIC

Finding him guilty of "serious contempt of court" and taking into consideration "serious health problems that would make it difficult for him to serve the sentence", the Trial Chamber has sentenced Bulatovic to four months' imprisonment, but suspended the sentence for two years

Kosta Bulatovic, a defense witness for Slobodan Milosevic who refused to give testimony in the absence of the accused, has been found guilty of contempt of court and given a four-month suspended sentence.

Although "his behavior represents serious contempt of court” which deserves immediate detention ... he has serious health problems that would make it difficult for him to serve the sentence, the Trial Chamber said in a written judgment today, deciding to suspend the serving of the sentence for two years. The sentence will be enforced if "during that time (Bulatovic) commits another crime anywhere which carries a prison sentence, including contempt of court."

Kosta Bulatovic, 68, one of the leaders of the Serbian "resistance movement" in Kosovo in the late 1980s, testified in the Milosevic trial for a few days in April this year. On 19 April, he refused to answer questions put by the prosecutor when Milosevic was not in the courtroom due to his ill heath. Despite instructions and assurances by the judges that his testimony would be made available to Milosevic and that it would be possible for Milosevic to call him again as a witness, the following day Bulatovic again refused to answer questions although he was warned that he could be held in contempt.

At the trial of Bulatovic on May 6, his defense counsel Stephane Bourgon tried to prove that Bulatovic was not aware that he was obstructing justice by the way he behaved. The Chamber, however, concluded that Bulatovic "knowingly and willingly" obstructed justice because he had been advised of the consequences of his refusal to testify and had been reassured that Milosevic would be able to call him to the witness stand again if he wanted to clarify his statement.

He tried "to control the circumstances in which he was giving testimony" and "thus defied the authority of the court," the Trial Chamber concluded.