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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 11th Oct 2000

ICTY Press Briefing - 11 October 2000

note that this is not a verbatim transcript of the Press Briefing. It is merely
a summary.

Weekly Press Briefing

Date: 11 October 2000

11:30 a.m.



Landale, Spokesman for Registry and Chambers made the following statement:

the Krstic Defence case-in-chief is due to start next Monday 16 October at 0920
hrs in Courtroom III. General Krstic is expected to take the witness stand himself
at some stage during the defence’s case, and we will try to give you adequate
warning of that.

I have copies of a press release expressing the Registrar’s gratitude to the
United States’ Government for their second contribution to the Tribunal’s Outreach
Programme, this time for USD $100,000. As you probably know, the Outreach Programme
is entirely funded by voluntary contributions from States and institutions.

since the Prosecution’s case-in-chief in the Kvocka and others case wrapped
up on Friday, we have for you a complete list of the witnesses that appeared
for the Prosecution.

addition, copies of the latest Status of Ongoing Cases fact sheet and the 18th
edition of the Judicial Supplement are now available.



Paul Risley, Spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) made the following

is my last Press Briefing and I want to take this opportunity to tell you all
of my admiration for this Tribunal and for the people who work here every day
in this rather remarkable institution.

speaking of the people who work here, I would also include the journalists,
who play just as important a role as the prosecutors, the Judges, the defence
attorneys and the investigators, to make up this institution. The Tribunal is
more than anything an experiment in international justice and the work of the
journalists is just as important in expressing the work of the Tribunal to the
people of Yugoslavia and to the world.

arrived here at the height of the Kosovo conflict and I will be leaving with
the downfall of Milosevic. I see that as two very effective bookends to my own
service here. I have made many great friends here, including the people in this
room. I won’t forget you and I hope you won’t forget me.

Deputy Prosecutor will now make a brief statement and then he will be available
for questions.

Blewitt Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia made the following announcement:

will certainly miss Paul. He has been an asset to the Prosecutor’s Office and
to the Tribunal. We all wish him well and thank him for what he has done for
the Tribunal during his relatively short time here.

do not have a prepared statement but I thought it appropriate to say a few words
about the remarkable events that have occurred recently in Yugoslavia. I recognise
that this is the first time I have been to a briefing in several weeks having
been on mission with the Prosecutor to the United States. If you have questions
on this issue I will be happy to answer them.

week the Prosecutor and I were in Bosnia and Kosovo, where we witnessed the
remarkable events in Serbia. Apart from anything else, the OTP is delighted
to see the political changes that have taken place there. They herald the birth
of democracy in Serbia and we would certainly hope that a free press goes along
with that.

is important for the Tribunal’s work that the people of Serbia and Montenegro
see a true picture of what is happening here at The Hague, if there is to be
a successful outcome of the Tribunal’s work.

Paul mentioned, journalists play a very critical role in this process. If the
Tribunal is going to succeed in its work it is essential that the ordinary citizens
of Yugoslavia accept that justice is being done here and that the people responsible
for the atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia are brought to justice.
We see the changes in Yugoslavia as heralding the start of that process in Serbia
and Montenegro.

As far as our own work is concerned we see this as an opportunity to reopen
our offices in Belgrade and to resume the investigations which have been taking
place in Serbia. For a long time now investigations where Serbs have been the
victims have been frustrated due the OTP’s inability to gain direct access to
the witnesses and victims and the OTP has had to take extraordinary steps to
have witnesses identified and appear for interview either in Banja Luka or certainly
outside of Serbia. The OTP sees this as a remarkable opportunity to advance
those investigations.

Prosecutor had written to President Kostunica seeking a meeting at the earliest
possible opportunity. The OTP realises that there are more elections to take
place in December, so early meetings were not anticipated, probably in the New
Year or towards the end of this year."

He added that he was very much aware of the statements being made by President
Kostunica the extent to which that was pre-election politicking we have yet
to establish. The OTP would hope to establish good cooperation with the new
Government in Yugoslavia and that would mean full cooperation, meaning the surrender
of fugitives to the Tribunal and the hope that Serbia no longer remains a safe
haven for indicted fugitives.



Asked when
the OTP expected Milosevic and other Serbian indictees to be delivered to
The Hague, Blewitt replied that he could not give a time frame. He added
that President Kostunica would need some time to establish himself, to form
a Government. There were more elections coming up in December. He went on
to say that the OTP was aware of Kostunica’s statements in terms of former
President Milosevic. Clearly the OTP had some work to do on that front.
The OTP was realistic enough to know that it would not happen over night
and that it was necessary to demonstrate patience as it had always done.
The OTP would continue to be persistent. There was no statute of limitations
on the crimes which have been committed. The indictments were already in
existence and following statements by the Prosecutor she had no intention
of withdrawing those indictments. There were international arrest warrants.
Milosevic was really confined to Serbia, he said. It was a question of wait
and see, he concluded.

Asked if
he was confident it would happen, Blewitt said that he was.

Asked whether
the OTP would put pressure on Serbia for the arrest of indictees, Blewitt
replied that he believed that even now the OTP was putting on pressure.
Serbia’s obligations were well known. For Yugoslavia to rejoin the international
community, to be accepted back into the United Nations, this involved obligations.
Blewitt concluded that he would expect not only the Tribunal but also the
international community to put pressure on the new regime to comply fully
with the obligations. That included surrendering people indicted by this
Tribunal and on top of that list was Slobodan Milosevic, he concluded.

Asked for
his opinion on comments, such as the one from Robin Cook, evoking the idea
of Milosevic being tried first in Serbia and then by the Tribunal, Blewitt
replied that he would have to see the details of what was intended by these
comments. He added that he was not sure what was being referred to. Whether
it was crimes against the Serbian people such as electoral fraud, he was
not sure to what extent it was suggested that Milosevic be prosecuted in
Serbia. In terms of war crimes, clearly the Tribunal had already issued
its indictments and would exercise its primacy, he added. The Tribunal’s
jurisdiction to prosecute these cases was a concurrent one with national
courts so national courts did have the jurisdiction to prosecute such cases,
but the Tribunal had the right to exercise its primacy and clearly in a
case such as Milosevic that would be an area where the Tribunal would exercise
it. That did not mean he could not be dealt with domestically for other
crimes, but the OTP did not have a position on that issue, he concluded

added that he believed that Mr. Cook was not talking about crimes for which
this Tribunal had authority.

whether he believed the position being taken by leaders such as the German Chancellor
were undermining the Tribunal, Blewitt replied that he had not been following
everything the politicians were saying on this issue, but as far as he was concerned,
the Tribunal’s position was clear. The Security Council gave this Tribunal the
mandate to investigate and to prosecute individuals responsible for crimes in
the former Yugoslavia. The OTP had undertaken this mandate seriously and had
investigated and brought out indictments and the international community, in
particular the Security Council expected the Tribunal to fulfill its mandate
of prosecuting persons who had been indicted by this Tribunal.

concluded that he could not comment on positions being taken by politicians
but regardless of what they said the legal position of the international community
was quite clear and unequivocal.

Asked what
he believed the OTP would do if anything happened other than Milosevic being
transferred to The Hague, especially in connection with Kosovo and Croatia
handing over indicted people and in relation to the people here on trial,
Blewitt replied that the OTP would as always insist upon full cooperation
by member states of the UN. If those states were in a position to assist the
Tribunal and requests for such cooperation were made the OTP would expect
the cooperation to be forthcoming.

added that it had not always been forthcoming in the former Yugoslavia and
the OTP would insist upon more cooperation. If this were not forthcoming,
the Tribunal would do what it could to gain support for the Tribunal’s position
and request others to make their own pressures to ensure full cooperation
with the Tribunal.

was seen in respect to Croatia’s non compliance. That was a situation that had
gone on for years. He was pleased to say that after years of frustration there
was now a situation in which Croatia was in compliance with its obligations.
He would hope to be able to say the same for Yugoslavia. Until that position
was achieved, that would be the position adopted by the OTP, he concluded.

Asked if Milosevic
was to be tried in Serbia for war crimes, would the OTP immediately ask for
a deferral, and if this was not accepted was the OTP’s next move be to go
the Security Council, Blewitt replied that it would depend on what
he was being charged with in Serbia. The Tribunal had concurrent jurisdiction
on these offences and the mere fact that the Tribunal had indicted Milosevic
indicated that the Tribunal had already exercised primacy in that case and
would insist upon it.

Asked if
Milosevic was to be tried in Serbia for crimes other that war crimes, and
time would drag on before he arrived at the Tribunal, would this affect
the Tribunal’s credibility, Blewitt replied that he did not think so. He
added that apart from anything else, it would mean that he was in custody
for offences, which would be a good position for him to be in.

Tribunal had even explored with Croatia the possibility of allowing domestic
cases to proceed pending the hearings here. Providing the accused was in custody
and under the control of either the Tribunal or a domestic court, it was really
just a matter of making practical arrangements to transfer the accused from
one jurisdiction to another to allow the case to proceed, and if there was
going to be any particular delay in one jurisdiction there was no reason why
the prisoner could not be dealt with on charges in the other jurisdiction.
The rules did provide for prisoners to be transferred.

He concluded
that he did not see this as a major obstacle. He saw it as a positive development
that people the Tribunal wanted to prosecute were in custody. There were delays
at the Tribunal and particularly if Milosevic was surrendered, it could take
some time for the trial to actually commence before the Trial Chamber here.

Asked whether
the OTP would be content to see Milosevic tried in Serbia for non-war crimes
charges, and ‘flitting between’ the two courts, Blewitt replied that he did
not think it was up to him to say whether or not he would be content to see
Milosevic tried domestically. If he was, however, he saw it as no impediment
at all to Milosevic also standing trial before this Tribunal and he did not
see it necessarily that this Tribunal would have to wait till the conclusion
of any domestic prosecution.

added that it was becoming a fairly common event throughout the world where
criminals were required to stand trial in different jurisdictions to be transferred
from one jurisdiction to another to allow those cases to proceed. Clearly
in terms of the crimes over which this Tribunal had jurisdictions the Tribunal
would exercise primacy and the sentence he would be serving would be the sentence
imposed, if imposed, by this tribunal.

Asked whether
the OTP would allow Milosevic to serve sentence in Serbia, Blewitt replied
that the Rules and the Statute did not provide for any accused convicted by
the Tribunal to serve their sentences in the former Yugoslavia. For this reason,
the Tribunal had strived for years for arrangements to be put in place for
sentences to be served in other countries. It might well be that a time would
come where it would be possible for sentence to be served inside the former
Yugoslavia, but that time had not yet arrived, he said.

Asked what
the intention of the OTP was with regards to the other indicted war criminals
suspected to be in Serbia, Blewitt replied that he had been speaking generically.
He said that the Tribunal hoped that political changes in Yugoslavia signaled
the time when Serbia would no longer be a safe haven for persons indicted
by the Tribunal.

added that the OTP would be pressing for the apprehension and surrender of
all indictees and that was likely to have a number of results, whether to
force people to leave Yugoslavia and return to Bosnia in general, or the Republika
Srpska in particular. If that was to happen, SFOR were there able to act.
It must not be interpreted from what he said that the OTP’s only interest
was in Milosevic as this was not the case. His name was mentioned having regard
to what happened last week and as he was the focal point of the questions.
The OTP expected all indicted fugitives to be apprehended and surrendered
to the Tribunal and the OTP would be pressing for that. The discussions with
Kostunica would not be confined to Milosevic.

Asked whether
allowing people indicted by the Tribunal to be tried for lesser charges such
as electoral fraud did not encourage countries such as Yugoslavia to prolong
what should be an important democratic test, Blewitt replied that he did not
feel that there was any contradiction legally or otherwise by charges being
brought against perpetrators for other offences.

mere fact that this Tribunal exercised its jurisdiction for war crimes did
not distinguish or give any immunity for any other crimes that the individuals
may have been responsible for, so there was no legal contradiction at all.
Whether domestic procedures would prolong the surrender to this Tribunal,
it could have that effect. It was going to take Kostunica some time to form
a government which was able to function properly and he was going to require
time that the Tribunal had to give him.

It was
in everyone’s interest that a true democracy be established and it would not
happen overnight. Kostunica did not have a firm majority, so other electoral
reforms were necessary. It would take time for him to gain momentum and provided
that at the end of the day all indicted were surrendered to the Tribunal. The
Tribunal had to be patient. This did not mean it would wait forever and the
Tribunal would not wait forever, but were prepared for other priorities to take
a foothold before the Tribunal insisted on the Tribunal’s priorities being put
on the top of the list, he concluded.