Did the ICTY Just Reveal the Identity of an Anonymous Witness? (Updated)

by Kevin Jon Heller

Someone needs to explain this to me. The ICTY’s official Twitter account just tweeted the following:

A witness normally testifies “with facial and voice distortion” in order to prevent the defendant from knowing his or her identity. So here we have the ICTY tweeting the identity of a presumably anonymous witness. What gives?

(I should add that I don’t know why Erdemović would need to testify anonymously against Mladić. He’s been a witness in a number of ICTY trials.)

UPDATE: A few readers emailed to say that Erdemović is testifying with face and voice distortion not to keep his identity secret from Mladić, but to limit public knowledge of his identity. If so, the ICTY’s actions are still baffling — the public now knows precisely who is testifying!


6 Responses

  1. Kevin, you were a member of Karadzic’s defence team. The very same thing happened in the Karadzic case … so you should know what the answer is.

  2. I presume he is either willing for his name to be public or the judges see the public interest in knowing what a convicted individual says in later trials… but Erdemovic was very young when he stood trial and he finished serving his sentence more than a decade ago so I presume he looks different and wants to protect himself from being recognised.

  3. He is not the first witness not to want to be recognized while walking or driving on the street, but who does not mind that his name be known, nothing strange there…

  4. There is endless youtube video of Erdemovic testifying in previous trials. That ship has sailed…

  5. I dont see youtube videos of any recent trials. All seem to be pre-1998, so prior to his guilty plea and thus prior to his relocation (see http://www.sense-agency.com/icty/drazen-erdemovic-in-the-hague-for-the-seventh-time.29.html?cat_id=1&news_id=13686).
    Dont see the problem

  6. Kevin, it’s hard not to think that you have knowingly tried to frustrate the purpose of the trial chamber’s protective measures order by identifying where images can be found of a witness with facial distortion. 
    And thanks to Ed’s post, you now know that the reason why he has facial distortion is because he is in witness protection with a new identity. You knew or should have known this anyway as a former member of Karadzic’s defence team.
    This isn’t a game. Witness protection – particularly for cooperating insiders like Erdemovic who have new identites – is taken extremely seriously by the international tribunals because the threats are real.
    So do the ethical thing and remove this post.

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