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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 2nd Dec 2003

ICTY Weekly Press Briefing

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 12.02.2003

Time: 12:10


Chartier, Head of the Public Information Services, made the following announcement:

A very good morning
to you all.

The Tribunal welcomes
the election to the very first bench of the International Criminal Court of
four ICTY Judges, one former Judge (Elizabeth Odio Benito, 1994 -1998) and three
current Judges (Maureen Harding Clark, Fatoumata Diarra and President Claude
Jorda). Their election is a clear tribute to their professional expertise and
to their personal merits. It is also a welcome continuation of the contribution
made by the ICTY to the establishment of an international human rights justice
system. The election of Judges Clark, Diarra and Jorda is a moment of professional
pride and personal joy, for them and for all of us at the Tribunal.

As the ICC Judges
will be sworn in on 11 March 2003, Judges Clark, Diarra and Jorda will remain
at the ICTY for four more weeks. The President will remain in his function until
10 March.

Meanwhile, and
more immediately, the President will chair the Fourth Diplomatic Seminar, to
be held on the morning of Friday 14 February 2003. During this Seminar, the
President, the Prosecutor and the Registrar will update diplomatic representatives
on general Tribunal issues, with a specific focus on the completion strategy.
This Seminar was previously scheduled for 17 January but was postponed the day
before because the President’s return from his meeting with the OHR in Sarajevo
was delayed.

With regard
to on-going proceedings:

I would like
to correct an article published last week in a daily from Sarajevo, to the effect
that the Italian Supreme Court had reduced the sentence of Goran Jelisic from
40 years to 30. Let me set the record straight:

The Tribunal
had asked the Italian authorities to look into the possibility of Goran Jelisic
being transferred to serve his sentence in an Italian prison;

The Tribunal
has not been informed of any decision made by any legal or administrative

The reported
so-called decision by the Supreme Court would not be consistent with the spirit
of the enforcement (of sentence) agreements signed by the Tribunal with eight
countries, namely that no other authority than the Tribunal itself can decide
on the length of any sentence;

Which means
that whenever Goran Jelisic is transferred, it will be to serve the term imposed
on him by the Appeals Chamber on 5 July 2001, namely 40 years.

Now, with regard
to recent decisions issued by the Chambers, the following are brought to your

On 7 February,
the Appeals Chamber (Judge Shahabuddeen, presiding; Judge Hunt; Judge Güney;
Judge de Zoysa Gunawardana and Judge Meron) rejected the Motion by Zoran Zigic
to review the Registrar’s Decision to withdraw legal aid provided to him by
the Tribunal. The Appeals Chamber found that "there have been a number
of errors demonstrated in the Registrar’s Decision"
(either errors
in the findings of facts or errors in calculations or valuations); however,
it found that " the errors made by the Registrar have not affected
his decision".
Accordingly, the Registrar’s Decision to withdraw
legal aid from Zoran Zigic was confirmed.

Also on 7 February,
Judge Schomburg issued a request to Counsel for Bijlana Plavsic to declare
whether or not the accused intends to testify in the Stakic proceedings before
the delivery of her sentencing judgement. This option was left open in the
Chamber’s Order of 9 January summoning Bijlana Plavsic to appear as witness,
and the declaration now requested from the accused’s counsel is based on the
fact that the defence case in the Stakic trial is currently scheduled to end
on 21 March.

Other Decisions
and Orders have been issued that we have listed on a separate document, along
with legal filings by parties, in order to save time for the Q & A session.

In terms of legal
filings, your attention is drawn to the following :

In the case
The Prosecutor v. Slobodan Milosevic, on 7 February, Serbia and Montenegro
filed its response to the Trial Chamber’s order of 10 January 2003 scheduling
a hearing on the Prosecution Motion for Binding Order.

In the case
The Prosecutor v. Miltinovic et al, on 7 February, General Ojdanic
filed a renewed application for provisional release.

Finally, before
coming to the briefing I received a revised version of the Appeals Brief by
the defence against the Judgement of November 27 in the Vasiljevic case. Copies
will be made after the briefing.

One final point,
yesterday was the deadline for the parties in the Plavsic case to file if they
so wished, further sentencing submissions. Documents from the defence have been
received and are at this moment being processed and in the extent that they
were not filed confidentially they will be made available to the media in due

Florence Hartmann,
Spokeswoman of the Office of the Prosecutor, made the following statement:

The Prosecutor
has now returned from the offices of the ICTR in Arusha. She is in The Hague
at the moment. She will make a visit to the Balkans next week, from Monday 17
to Wednesday 19 February. This will be a regular visit to Belgrade, Podgorica
and Skopje. In Belgrade she will meet with Djinjic and Svilanovic and in Podgorica
with the Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. In Skopje she will meet with the new
government. Her visit to Belgrade is a regular visit to discuss different issues
relating to cooperation and fugitives who remain at large. The visit to Skopje
follows the election of their new government. This will be the first meeting
with the new authorities there. The Prosecutor’s visits are related to cooperation
issues and will not involve the Prosecutor travelling with confidential or public
documents that can be transferred by other means.


Asked whether
it was already known who would succeed Judge Jorda as President of the Tribunal,
Chartier replied that it was not. He added that the President would remain
at the Tribunal until 10 March 2003, meanwhile provisions would be made for
a new President to be elected. The new President would be elected by the permanent
Judges of the Tribunal.

Asked whether
this would happen in the coming weeks or months, Chartier replied that how
and when to proceed was something that would be discussed by Chambers. Ideally
there would be an extraordinary plenary session convened in the coming weeks
so that a sussessor to President Jorda, who would be able to take over at
midnight on 10 March, could be elected. Also, at some point, Judge Jorda would
be replaced by a new French Judge who would serve the remainder of Judge Jorda’s
mandate as a Judge of the ICTY until 17 November 2005. This was a two-fold
process, he concluded.

A journalist
stated that in the Halilovic status conference on Monday it transpired that
Halilovic’s former lawyer had lied to him concerning a non-existent deal with
the Prosecutor about dropping his Indictment. The lawyer had since resigned
from defending the client. Asked whether the Trial Chamber would take any
action on what he saw as ‘a blatant breach of the code of ethics of the ICTY’
and what sort of initiatives could be taken, Chartier replied that he was
not aware of exactly what had happened on Monday and that he would review
the transcripts and would follow this up before next week. He added however
that, following the way in which the question was formulated, Chambers would
be at liberty to take any necessary action provided that what appears to have
been said was true. He concluded that he would check up on the issue and would
get back to the journalist.

Asked whether
there would be UN elections for the three replacement Judges and whether the
cases being dealt with by the three Judges leaving the Tribunal would be reassigned
to other Judges or whether they would have finished their work by the time
they leave in March, Chartier replied no to both questions. What the Tribunal
was now contemplating was the departure of three Judges; one of them, Judge
Jorda, was a permanent Judge. He said that he had previously explained what
would happen with regard to Jorda’s succession, as a Judge and as the President.
With regards to Judges Clark and Diarra, they were both Ad Litem Judges, which
meant Judges who were assigned to the Tribunal to sit on a very specific case.
They both sat on the same case, the Tuta and Stela case. As the media knew
this trial was completed. The Trial Chamber was currently considering a judgement.
Judge Clark and Diarra were professional Judges who would not leave unfinished
work behind them. As Ad Litem Judges they would have left the Tribunal once
this Judgement was rendered. There was no need for them to be replaced on
this case as the Trial Chamber would have completed its work as soon as the
Judgement was rendered. Whether the Tribunal would need to have new Ad Litem
Judges to deal with other cases would be seen in due course. There were trials
at the preparation stage and it could not be excluded that very soon the President
would ask Mr. Annan to appoint two new Ad Litem Judges. They would be selected
from the list of 27 possible Ad Litem Judges elected sometime in June 2001.

Asked how many
court days in the Milosevic case had been lost due to the illness of the accused,
Chartier replied more broadly by making the following statement:

trial opened one year ago today. An awful lot of ground has been covered since
then in what remains an extraordinary trial. This trial concerns alleged crimes
that spanned a decade and had been prime news all around the world for many,
many years. So far, 149 witnesses have been heard, over 149 hearing days,
which meant an average of one witness a day. This is an exceptional tempo,
considering the fact that nearly all of these witnesses have been cross-examined
at some length by the accused. Also to be considered was the fact that the
accused had been sick for 30 days. But what mattered was that there had been
far more days "on" than "off".

Under the control
of the Chamber the best possible use of this court time had been made by using
all the avenues opened by the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. These Rules
had once more proven a remarkable instrument to stage and conduct a trial
that was fair and transparent, to secure the testimony of hundreds of witnesses
including sensitive witnesses while affording them safety and protection,
and to ensure that the rights of the accused, even more so as he was not professionally
represented, were guaranteed.

All in all,
this trial was a fascinating one with the Courtroom being the cross-road of
legal history, dealing with political events, armed battles and, more importantly,
human fates".

This was why
the 30 days during which the accused was sick did not matter, Chartier added.
He concluded that the 30 days could be looked at in many ways. It was six
weeks, but it was also 30 time six hours in court as this was what a court
day consisted of in this case. He added that he would caution the media in
their manner of looking at the number of weeks because there were weeks when
Milosevic was sick but that only two days of court were scheduled, the concept
was very relative. It was 30 days off versus 149 days on, it was marginal.

A journalist
stated that Mr. Nice stressed how difficult it was to put the Prosecution’s
case properly in court due to Mr. Milosevic’s sick days and that for him it
was not a marginal issue. Hartmann replied that those 30 days, compared with
149 was a subjective issue. What was important was that any time Milosevic
was sick, even if for only two days, it had an impact on witness lists and
the technicalities involved in bringing witnesses to The Hague. The fact that
they were waiting, that they might have had to return a second time, and the
order of the witnesses.

Asked for the
date of the sentencing hearing in the Plavsic case, Chartier replied that
he was not aware of any scheduling order.

A journalist
stated that the US apparently said that it would relax threats of sanctions
particularly on Serbia but also on Croatia if certain accused were handed
over. The journalist also said that the US would not condition aid on others
being handed over if this was done. Asked if the Tribunal believed it had
the backing of the US, Chartier replied that if the journalist was raising
a question about statements made last month by Ambassador Prospor he and Florence
Hartmann had answered this question in detail approximately four weeks ago
during the briefing.

In brief, what
had been said last month was that this was not the manner in which the Tribunal
regarded such matters. It was not a matter of bargaining, (we would get x number
of identified persons for you, providing that you abandon what ever you had
in mind about the others). This was not the way the Tribunal looked at it and
this was not the way that the Tribunal understood Mr. Prosper’s statement at
that time. He added that he would be happy to provide copies of the statements
made by him and Florence four weeks ago. As far as he knew, no change had occurred
in the American position. He did not believe that he had any reason to change
the Tribunal’s position so the comments made four weeks ago were still applicable.