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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 4th Nov 1998

ICTY Press Briefing - 4 November 1998

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 4 November 1998

Time: 11.30 a.m.


The ICTY Spokesman,
Jim Landale, began today’s briefing by introducing Justice Louise Arbour,
Prosecutor of the ICTY and making the following announcements:

President McDonald
asked for a few words to be said on her behalf regarding comments attributed
to the Justice Minister of the FRY at the end of last week that called into
question the Tribunal’s jurisdiction on FRY territory. The President reiterates
that the Tribunal was established under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
This means that cooperation with the Tribunal is mandatory. It is not subject
to negotiation or alteration by anyone other than the UN Security Council.

A scheduling order
has been issued for the Celebici case: the judgement including sentences, if
applicable, will be handed down on Monday 16 November 1998 at 10.00

The Erasmus University
in Rotterdam will be holding a symposium in honour of Judge Cassese to mark
the award of an honorary doctorate to him by the University. The title of the
symposium is, "The International Criminal Court: A Critical Review of the
Results of the Rome Conference." Judge Cassese is also giving the keynote
address. Any further requests for further information should be directed to
the Press Office.



Justice Louise
Arbour, Prosecutor for the ICTY, began by making a statement. (Please see Press
Release 358E). She went on to say that there was complimentarity between national
courts and the Tribunal. She welcomed domestic prosecutions of war crimes provided
they were carried out fairly. However, this did not effect the jurisdiction
of the Tribunal. Dual competence was acknowledged, but the ITCY had primacy,
she said. Any willingness of the FRY authorities to carry out national prosecutions
was welcomed but it did not restrict the ICTY, she added.

Justice Arbour
said that she had sought visas for a team of investigators to go into Kosovo.
In a letter on 15 October 1998 she also wrote to President Milosevic to seek
assurances that visas would be issued. She had not as yet received an answer
to that letter and the team still did not have visas. She said that she had
spoken to the Yugoslav Ambassador to The Hague in order to press the urgency
of the matter. He informed her that the matter was still under consideration
but that he would stress the urgency of the matter. Justice Arbour expected
that visas would be granted as the law requires it. It was not a matter of discretion
but an expectation of unimpeded and unrestricted access, she stated.



Asked whether
she would go to Kosovo without visas, Justice Arbour replied that she was
unwilling to speculate on what she might or might not do. The law required
that she be allowed to go and she assumed the law would be obeyed.

Asked when
she would leave for the region Justice Arbour replied that she would leave
for Belgrade on Friday.

Asked her opinion
on comments made by the FRY Justice Minister that the Tribunal concentrated
on the Serbs rather than the Albanians, that any investigation teams could
only go to Kosovo with government officials and that any findings should be
reported to the government first, Justice Arbour stated that no conditions
could be imposed upon the team. It was up to her to decide how, when and where
an investigation would happen. This did not preclude cooperation, but the
investigation teams had an entitlement to keep any investigations confidential
if necessary, she asserted. She also rejected unequivocally that investigations
were directed at one side rather than another. She added that she had requested
information from the FRY regarding both sides which would underline this.

Asked whether
security measures would be taken to ensure the teams safety, Justice Arbour
answered that she assumed that the FRY has the authority to guarantee safety
for the team entering any area on their territory.

Asked whether
the team would carry on to Kosovo if they got to Belgrade and found that the
visas had not arrived, Justice Arbour replied that she would not speculate
on scenarios. She reiterated that she expected access for investigative purposes.

Asked why she
had decided to lead the investigation team, Justice Arbour answered that this
was the first time she had taken this position and it was in response to two
things. First the questioning of Tribunal’s jurisdiction. She would be
calling upon the FRY to allow investigation teams in. Secondly, there had
been a suggestion that, as a gesture of goodwill, the field office in Belgrade
might be doubled. Justice Arbour stated that there was no intention of increasing
the size of the Belgrade office. It was a liaison office not an investigation
office, she stated, adding that she wished to make the difference very clear.

Asked whether
the Belgrade office had reopened, Justice Arbour replied that the office had
never closed, although it may have been staffed differently.

Mr Blewitt
added that some staff were withdrawn briefly due to the threat of NATO airstrikes
but had now returned.

Asked whether
President Milosevic was more afraid of Justice Arbour than of NATO bombs judging
by his refusal to issue visas, Justice Arbour replied that that was an interesting
speculation, although she said she did not know whether they were refusing
to issue visas. She said the non-issuing of visas was certainly a discourtesy.
The Tribunal had a working understanding whereby they gave 15 days notice
of requiring visas. Visas were usually at the discretion of the issuing government,
but in this case the government was obliged to cooperate nonetheless, she

Asked whether
legally visas were required, Justice Arbour said that this was a fine legal
point, but for her it was a matter of indifference . The Tribunal was accommodating
in that it fulfilled all visa requirements as a matter of courtesy, even though
they might not require them.

Asked what
officials Justice Arbour would be meeting, she replied that nothing was confirmed
as yet, although it would be at the ministerial level.

Asked whether
the Holbrooke/Milosevic initiative was not explicit enough about cooperation
with the Tribunal, Justice Arbour replied that the Holbrooke initiative had
nothing to do with the Tribunal. She acknowledged that some argued that it
did but in fact the role of the Tribunal was not subject to Milosevic’s
consent. It was imposed upon him. Under Chapter VII of the United Nations
Charter, consent was not necessary.

Asked about
the Tribunal’s relationship with the French after the problems of last
year, Justice Arbour said that the visit of the French Prime Minister today
spoke volumes. She said that the Tribunal had ongoing good working relationships
with the French.