1 Tuesday, 25 March 2003
2 [Further Initial Appearance]
3 [Open session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.37 a.m.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good morning to everybody.
7 Madam Registrar, may we please hear the case.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning. This is case number IT-03-67-PT,
9 the Prosecutor versus Vojislav Seselj.
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
11 And the appearances, please, for the Prosecution.
12 MS. DEL PONTE: Good morning, Your Honour. For the Prosecution,
13 Carla Del Ponte; Dan Saxon, trial attorney; Kimberly Fleming, case
14 manager. Thank you.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
16 And --
17 THE ACCUSED: [Microphone not activated]
18 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please, for the accused.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] On behalf of the accused, the
20 accused in person, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you very much.
22 Under Rule 62, I have to satisfy myself that you are aware that
23 you have the right to counsel. We are aware that you have sent a letter
24 of about 100 pages in handwriting. Unfortunately, it was not possible to
25 translate it until now; therefore, we can't take it today into
1 consideration. But is it still your perspective that you want to defend
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes. And nothing will change in
4 this respect until the end of the trial.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: We will see. We are still seized with the
6 motion by the Office of the Prosecutor requesting the assignment of
7 Defence counsel. But as mentioned beforehand, we can't decide before we
8 have heard what your remarks on this issue are.
9 Then following Rule 62(ii), I have to satisfy myself that you have
10 the indictment in a language you understand. And may I ask, are there any
11 problems related to this? During the last appearance, you indicated there
12 would be some problems. But let me tell you this: Based on your
13 intervention, I got into some details of this, as you called it, problem.
14 First of all, all human rights issues have the same language, and telling
15 us that it's a fundamental right of an accused to be informed promptly and
16 in detail in a language which he understands. This is Article 14(3)(a) of
17 the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of December 16,
18 1966. So does the Convent for the Protection of Human Rights and
19 Fundamental Freedoms of November 4, 1950, in Article 6(3)(a) which it
20 reads that, The accused has to be informed promptly in the language which
21 he understands. From this it follows that in our Statute it reads in
22 Article 21(4)(a) that the accused has "to be promptly informed and in
23 detail in a language which he understands."
24 You made some objections to the use of some words. For example,
25 the word "opsi" opposed to "opsti"," the word "tocka" opposed to
1 "tacka" and others. I went into some details, and in my conclusion
2 there's not the slightest doubt that this is the language you understand.
3 We have the common roots in the Herzegovinian Serbo-Croatian language, and
4 what we are discussing here are not dialects, not even dialects. These
5 are variants of one and the same language. And the basic document, I am
6 convinced that it's not only in a language you understand but also the
7 language you are using because whenever those words mentioned by you, for
8 example, the word for Defence, which would be in the Croatian variant
9 "obrana" and in the Serb version "odbrana" you can read the Serbian
10 version in the indictment. Therefore, I have to ask you: Are there any
11 other objections to my understanding that you have the indictment as such
12 before you in a language you understand?
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] This is correct, Your Honour. I
14 have received the indictment in the Serbian language. However, it was not
15 read out in its entirety in the Serbian language. There were many
16 expressions I do not understand. Like you in the meantime, I consulted
17 some linguistic experts about some words which I absolutely do not
18 understand. These experts explained to me that the noun "tocka" could be
19 the feminine variant of the word "tacka" and as for the word "Hotimicno,"
20 and I still insist I do not understand it, they explained that there is an
21 Albanian tribe called Hoti, and Micno would be derived from Mitici, which
22 means "to move," so it would mean Hoti moving or someone moving in the way
23 the Hoti move. These are big problems, and I insist that you find an
24 interpreter who can speak the Serbian language well. I cannot speculate.
25 The word "Hotimicno," is an artificial word, and it sounds in Serbian just
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 as cockney might sound in London in relation to standard English. It is
2 my right to have the interpreter interpret to me in the Serbian standard
3 language and not to use some sort of jargon or an artificial language, a
4 language used in Zagreb and elsewhere. I have received the indictment in
5 the Serbian language, and I can plead today to all counts of the
6 indictment, but there is another very important problem. Let me remind
7 you that Article 20 of the Statute under 3 says "The Trial Chamber shall
8 read the indictment," shall "convince itself that the rights of the
9 accused are respected," and shall ask the accused to plead.
10 Your Honour, with all due respect, because I see that you are
11 acting properly, I do not see the Chamber here. It says in Rule 62, The
12 accused shall without delay be brought before the Trial Chamber or a
13 permanent Judge thereof without delay and shall be formally charged. "The
14 Trial Chamber" or the Judge shall, "read or have the indictment read out
15 to the accused in a language the accused speaks and understands, and
16 satisfy itself," himself, or herself, "that the accused understands the
18 However, if the Rules of Procedure and Evidence are not in
19 accordance with the Statute, it is the Statute that has precedence because
20 the Statute was brought by those who founded the Tribunal, while the Rules
21 of Procedure and Evidence were brought by the Tribunal itself. This may
22 seem to be a formal issue to you, but I feel that it is essential. I feel
23 that the entire Chamber should be present when I am pleading because I
24 feel that this is a very important part of the trial, maybe the most
25 important. I wish to look all the members of the Trial Chamber in the
1 eye. I want them all to see what my bearing is and whether I am
2 convincing or not when I plead not guilty.
3 And also it says here that it is the Trial Chamber that should
4 read out the indictment and not just any clerk of the Court. Therefore, I
5 demand that the indictment be read out again, that it be read out by the
6 Trial Chamber. You don't all have to read it -- you don't have to read
7 all of it yourself. The Judges might take turns reading it. And I feel
8 that all the provisions of the Statute, first, and the Rules of Procedure
9 and Evidence, secondly, should be respected. If there is any conflict
10 between the Statute and the Rules, it is the Statute that should be
11 strictly respected.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Dr. Seselj, I appreciate that you admit that you
13 have the indictment before you in a language you understand. As regards
14 the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, there is a huge discussion given to
15 the Judges implementing the Statute and under the Statute it clearly reads
16 that a Pre-Trial Judge has to do this Initial Appearance. And you have
17 followed the decisions from the President assigning the case to the Trial
18 Chamber and then assigning the case to me. So there is no procedural
19 problem. I'm here sitting as a representative of Trial Chamber II, and
20 then we may proceed immediately under Rule 62.
21 You are informed, and I have satisfied myself that you have the
22 indictment in a language you understand. So therefore, may I ask Madam
23 Registrar to read from the indictment count by count the charges.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Count 1: Prosecutions on political, racial, or
25 religious grounds, a crime against humanity, punishable under Articles
1 5(h) and 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. May I hare your plea.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty. Not guilty.
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please number 2.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Count 2, extermination, a crime against humanity,
6 punishable under Articles 5(b) and 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Count 3, murder, a crime against humanity,
9 punishable under Articles 5(a) and 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Count 4, murder, a violation of the laws or
12 customs of war as recognised by common Article 3(1)(a) of the Geneva
13 Conventions of 1949 punishable under Articles 3 and 7(1) of the Statute of
14 the Tribunal.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
16 THE REGISTRAR: Count 5, imprisonment, a crime against humanity,
17 punishable under Articles 5(e) and 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
19 THE REGISTRAR: Count 6, torture, a crime against humanity,
20 punishable under Articles 5(f) and 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Never in my life have I ever
22 tortured anyone, and I am not guilty.
23 THE REGISTRAR: Count 7, inhuman acts, a crime against humanity,
24 punishable under Articles 5(i) and 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
1 THE REGISTRAR: Count 8, torture, a violation of the laws or
2 customs of war as recognised by Common Article 3(1)(a) of the Geneva
3 Conventions of 1949 punishable under Articles 3 and 7(1) of the Statute of
4 the Tribunal.
5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Count 9, cruel treatment, a violation of the laws
7 or customs of war as recognised by Common Article 3(1)(a) of the Geneva
8 Conventions of 1949, punishable under Articles 3, and 7(1) of the Statute
9 of the Tribunal.
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Count 10, deportation, a crime against humanity,
12 punishable under Articles 5(d) and 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
13 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
14 THE REGISTRAR: Count 11, inhuman acts, forcible transfers, a
15 crime against humanity, punishable under Articles 5(i) and 7(1) of the
16 Statute of the Tribunal.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
18 THE REGISTRAR: Count 12, wanton destruction of villages or
19 devastation not justified by military necessity, a violence of the laws or
20 customs of war, punishable under Articles 3(b) and 7(1) of the Statute of
21 the Tribunal.
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
23 THE REGISTRAR: Count 13, destruction or wilful damage done to
24 institutions dedicated to religion or education, a violation of the laws
25 or customs of war, punishable under Articles 3(b) and 7(1) of the Statute
1 of the Tribunal.
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Again you are mentioning these
3 Albanian Hoti, the Albanian tribe of Hoti, but I'm not guilty.
4 THE REGISTRAR: Count 14, plunder of public or private property, a
5 violation of the laws or customs of war, punishable under Articles 3(e)
6 and 7(1) of the Statute of the Tribunal.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Not guilty.
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Your Honour, with your leave.
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: One moment, please.
11 Madam Registrar, we can conclude that the accused has pleaded not
12 guilty to all the counts of the indictment we have before us.
13 This concludes the first part of the further appearance. And
14 let's turn now to the Status Conference in order to discuss the remaining
15 administrative issues.
16 --- Whereupon the Further Appearance
17 adjourned at 9.54 a.m., to be followed
18 by a Status Conference