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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 7th Oct 1998

ICTY Press Briefing - 7 October 1998

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 7 October 1998

Time: 1.30 p.m.


Christian Chartier,
the Head of the Public Information Section, welcomed the resumption of the weekly
press briefings, which, he said, marked "the setting-in motion of an entirely
new way to conduct the press operations at the ICTY".

Consistent with
the statutory organization of the ICTY and with the division of work between
the Judges and the Prosecutor, the press briefings would now be given jointly
by two spokespersons, he said. These were:

- a Spokesman
for the Registry and the Chambers, who would deal with all institutional and
court matters

- and, a Spokesman
for the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), who would deal with all OTP related

Christian Chartier
announced that the OTP was in the process of appointing its own Spokesperson
and that meanwhile an OTP representative would be designated on a weekly basis
by the Prosecutor or her Deputy to participate in the press briefings.

Christian Chartier
then introduced the newly-appointed ICTY Spokesman, Mr. Jim Landale, noting
that he had joined the ICTY in early September, but was familiar with its work
since he was previously a United Nations press officer in the former Yugoslavia.
Landale had spent the last four and a half years in Zagreb and Sarajevo, he



Landale began
his first ICTY briefing with an update about the following ongoing court cases:

Celebici case:
The sentencing hearing would be scheduled for 12 October 1998, in which both
parties (Prosecution and Defence) could submit any information they felt relevant
for the Trial Chamber in determining an appropriate sentence.

Kupreskic case:
the President of the ICTY, Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, had authorized an
on-site visit to Ahmici in central Bosnia. The visit is tentatively scheduled
for 20 October. This followed a request from Trial Chamber II who felt that
there was a need to see the village and its surroundings at first-hand, including
distances between houses, missile trajectories and travel routes, and also to
assess the level of destruction in the area. Both the Prosecution and the Defence
had backed the visit.

: the re-opening of the proceedings had been scheduled for 9 November
at 09.30 a.m.

A press release
(Press Release 350-E) on the amended
indictment for Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez
was made available to the Press.

Finally, the Spokesman
mentioned that Tuesday marked the 50th Anniversary of UN Peacekeeping
Operations. This was observed in New York at a special meeting of the General
Assembly, where the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, presented the first Dag Hammarskjold
Medals to the families of three United Nations officials who were killed while
on peacekeeping missions. Landale noted that 1,578 United Nations military and
civilian peacekeepers from some 85 countries had died while serving under the
United Nations’ flag during this half-century.



Taking the floor
on behalf of the Office of the Prosecutor, Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt
gave the following statement about Kosovo (Press
Release 351-E):

Up until the last
few weeks, the Prosecutor has been undertaking investigations in relation to
the events in Kosovo without any obstruction on the part of the Belgrade authorities.
A team has just returned from Kosovo and it was the Prosecutor’s intention
to supplement this team with other investigators. That has not been possible
because for the first time the Belgrade authorities had not issued visas in
time for these other investigators to travel to Yugoslavia.

On Friday of last
week, the Prosecutor’s staff in Belgrade sought an explanation from the
Belgrade authorities as to why these visas had not been issued.

In response, the
representative of the Foreign Ministry indicated that the official position
of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) regarding the Tribunal and Kosovo
is that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to conduct investigations in Kosovo
and the Tribunal will not be allowed to do so.

The Ministry further
stated that the Prosecutor’s investigations in Kosovo represented a violation
of the FRY’s sovereignty. The Prosecutor’s investigators would be
allowed to move around in Kosovo but would not be permitted to conduct investigations.
If such investigations were carried out in Kosovo, the FRY might reconsider
its existing co-operation with the Tribunal and in particular might reconsider
the agreement relating to the Prosecutor’s Liaison Office in Belgrade.

The Prosecutor
finds the position of the FRY Government to be totally unacceptable. Such a
position ignores not only the express terms of the Tribunal’s Statute,
but also with various United Nations Security Council resolutions and Presidential
Statements which unequivocally state that the Tribunal does in fact have jurisdiction
over Kosovo.

The Prosecutor
believes that it is in the best interest of the FRY and of all people in Kosovo
and Serbia, to allow the Prosecutor’s investigator's to fulfill their duties
and thus to contribute to the establishment of the full truth about the conflict
in Kosovo and the prosecution of those responsible for the crimes falling within
the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, as requested by the UN Security Council.

In conclusion,
the Prosecutor intends to pursue her investigations into the events in Kosovo
and urges the authorities of the FRY to re-consider their position and to comply
with its international obligations to co-operate fully with the Tribunal and
the Prosecutor’s investigations.



Asked whether
the Tribunal could put more pressure on the FRY, the Deputy Prosecutor replied
that this was a matter for the Security Council. On the issue of whether the
Tribunal was investigating only the crimes allegedly committed by the FRY,
or also those allegedly committed by the KLA, Mr. Blewitt answered that, during
an armed conflict, crimes were usually committed by both parties, and so both
parties would be investigated.

On the question
of whether OTP investigators needed visas and whether the investigators could
move around in Kosovo, Mr. Blewitt answered that investigators in the past
had always used visas and that this had not been a problem.

Asked if there
was any consistency between findings by ICTY investigators and the findings
in the Secretary-General’s report on Kosovo, Mr. Blewitt answered that
he could not comment since it related to specific operational matters. He
added that, in order to issue an indictment, sufficient evidence needed to
be gathered.

Asked if the
Secretary-General’s report on Kosovo mentioned anything about ICTY investigators’
freedom to move around Kosovo, Mr. Blewitt answered it had not been mentioned,
but that it was not necessary since it was already clear.

Finally, a
question was raised asking if the Deputy Prosecutor knew why the change in
attitude by Belgrade had taken place. He answered that the Prosecutor was
surprised by this change and had not come up with any clear reasons to explain

ICTY Spokesman, Jim Landale concluded the briefing by announcing that Press
Briefings would be held every Wednesday at 11.30 a.m. at the Tribunal’s
Press Briefing area.