note that this is not a verbatim transcript of the Press Briefing. It is merely
Weekly Press Briefing
6 June 2001
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Landale, Spokesman for Registry and Chambers, made the following statement:
election for the ad litem judges will take place on 12 to 14 June in
New York. The first ad litem judges (six) will arrive in The Hague on
1 September 2001. They will first undergo a week of training and then they will
begin their trials on 10 September 2001. There are three trials due to begin
on September 10, namely Naletilic and Martinovic, Vasiljevic, and Simic, otherwise
known as the Bosanski Samac trial. Each of the Trial Chambers for these trials
will be made up of one permanent judge and two ad litem judges.
we have received a revised draft law for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Comments will be prepared and the draft law will
be discussed by the Judges at the next plenary session, which is due to take
place on 11 and 12 July.
Blewitt, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia (ICTY), made no statement.
what the logic was behind setting a date for the trial of Vasiljevic, when
his two co -accused were still at large and whether it was not better to wait
for their apprehension before starting the trial, Landale replied that ideally,
the best scenario was to try all individuals jointly accused on an indictment
at the same time and in the same trial. However, there were also the rights
of the accused in custody in the Detention Unit to consider. They could not
wait forever in the hope that the other individuals would be apprehended and
transferred to the Tribunal. This underlined the importance of state cooperation
from the authorities, whether in the FRY or Bosnia, and the importance for
them to live up to their obligations under international law to detain and
to transfer all individuals indicted by the Tribunal.
initiatives the Tribunal was taking to ensure the detention and transfer of
these individuals to The Hague, Blewitt replied that it was wrong to presume
that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) was sitting doing nothing with respect
to these accused. Operational matters that could not be discussed, were being
considered and the OTP would take every opportunity to secure the apprehension
of any indicted fugitive.
Milan and Sredoje Lukic were in the FRY, Blewitt replied that it was one of
the places that they were in. The OTP had information that indicated that
their location was beyond the FRY. He could not go into any detail on this
issue, he said.
whether this meant that they were moving around, Blewitt replied that it did.
the Tribunal expected their cousin Sretan Lukic, the Deputy Minister of Interior
for the Republic of Serbia, to arrest them (as he was in charge of arresting
fugitives in the FRY), Blewitt replied that any authorities in the FRY that
had the responsibilities for apprehending persons indicted by the Tribunal
had that responsibility regardless of their personal relationships. It was
incumbent on any official to do their duty, he concluded.
the arrest made by UNMIK this morning had anything to do with the Tribunal,
Blewitt replied that UNMIK was responsible for undertaking Prosecutions within
He added that
there was liaison between the UNMIK prosecuting authorities and the Tribunal.
The Tribunal had an office in Pristina and there were constant exchanges
of information. It was a question of national prosecutions being undertaken
in conjunction with Tribunal prosecutions and in Kosovo UNMIK was the legal
authority to bring such prosecutions. It was not the case that the Tribunal
would get involved in this case or would seek deferral. The OTP would assist
in any way it could to ensure that local prosecutions took place according
to law, he concluded.
the letter from Serbian Justice Minister Batic had been received by the Prosecutor,
Blewitt replied that the letter from Minister Batic (the one referred to by
the media over the weekend), had not been received by the Prosecutor. He added
that the OTP was aware of his comments and it appeared that this letter was
similar or identical to other letters sent by Minister Batic to the Prosecutor
in the past.
a brief overview of how things stood between the Tribunal and the authorities
of the FRY, Croatia and the Republika Srpska (RS), Blewitt replied that, generally
speaking cooperation with Croatia was good and getting better. He added that
there were still some outstanding requests and the OTP was in constant dialogue
with the Croatian authorities in relation to these. The exhumation in the
Knin area was still taking place and this was happening with the cooperation
of the Croatian authorities. There was very little to complain about with
the Croatian authorities apart from the fact that the Tribunal would like
to see full cooperation concerning some requests that had been outstanding
for some time. The relations with the Croatian authorities were friendly and
cordial. And there was respect on both sides as to the various positions that
were held and genuine attempts were being sought by them to find solutions
to all outstanding areas of non-cooperation.
As far as
the RS was concerned the Tribunal has been informed that the draft law on
cooperation was also under consideration. He added that if this meant that
the passing of such a law would herald the RS complying with all of its
obligations to the Tribunal, including apprehending and surrendering all
fugitives then the Tribunal would welcome the early passing of the law and
full cooperation being put into place. Leaving aside the apprehension of
fugitives by the RS, the OTP was still making numerous requests for access
to documents and witnesses and, generally speaking, there was a willingness
to cooperate in that area. The Prosecutor was currently issuing summonses
for individuals in the RS to present themselves for interview by the OTP.
Whilst the OTP did not have 100 percent success for those summonses there
was a fairly high percentage of those individuals turning up to be interviewed
by the OTP investigators. This was happening with the knowledge and the
assistance of the local authorities in the RS. To that extent cooperation
with the RS was improving, but there was room for a lot more cooperation.
The OTP was also requesting access to documents and did receive the occasional
document, he concluded.
The OTP did
have one area of concern with the RS, that being the lack of support being
given to the liaison officer here at The Hague, Mr. Jovicic. He was an individual
who worked hard trying to represent the RS’ interests at this Tribunal and
the OTP was dismayed to see that he continued to be frustrated in the performance
of his job because of the lack of support from the RS authorities. Basic
communication equipment was denied to him and it made it difficult for him
to do his job. When the OTP heard of this sort of thing, it had to question
the willingness of the RS authorities in Banja Luka to fully cooperate with
the Tribunal, he concluded.
It could be
seen in the newspapers on a daily basis the progress of the discussions
concerning the law of cooperation between the FRY and the Tribunal. He added
that the Prosecutor had made her position extremely clear on this point
and that was that the requirement for such a law was merely an internal
matter for the FRY. He went on to say that the FRY’s obligations to cooperate
with the Tribunal was quite clear and the Tribunal demanded full cooperation
of the FRY with respect to those areas, such as the apprehension and transfer
of fugitives on the FRY territory, and also giving the OTP full access to
witnesses and documents in relation to the OTP investigations.
to the current exhumation taking place concerning the bodies from the refrigerated
van found a couple of years ago, the OTP was receiving cooperation from
the FRY authorities. Whilst the world was paused waiting for the passing
of the law on cooperation, the Tribunal was doing the same, however, to
repeat what the Prosecutor had said, in the view of the Tribunal, there
was no need for such a law, there was an overriding obligation on the part
of the FRY to cooperate with the Tribunal and the Tribunal demanded such
cooperation, he concluded.
comment on cooperation between the Tribunal and the FRY, which the Prosecutor
is quoted as saying had deteriorated since March, Blewitt replied that to
discuss specific issues would begin to delve into operational matters and
he was not in a position to do that. He added that a dialogue was being maintained
between the Tribunal and the FRY authorities. It was important to maintain
such a dialogue with a view to overcoming whatever obstacles there might be.
The OTP believed that there was a genuine desire on the part of many of the
authorities in Belgrade to cooperate with the Tribunal, and there were of
course those opposed to any form of cooperation. It was a question of striking
a balance, he concluded.