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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 9th Feb 2000

ICTY Press Briefing - 9 February 2000

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 09 February 2000

Time: 11:30 a.m.


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

I thought that
I’d start with some details of President Jorda’s recent trip to New
York, where in the course of the three days that he was there he had 26 separate
meetings, with among others, the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, the Deputy Secretary-General,
the President of the General Assembly, and representatives from the five permanent
members of the Security Council, as well as representatives from the missions
of Argentina, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Canada and Portugal.

In addition, President
Jorda met with the Head of the Office of Legal Affairs and his Deputy; the Principle
Legal Officer for the Office of Legal Affairs, the President of the ACABQ (budgetary
committee), the Under-Secretary-General for Management, the Under-Secretary-General
for Human Resources, the Controller, the Director of Programme Planning and
Budget Division, the Director of the Secretariat of the Security Council, and
the Secretary of the ACABQ.

A number of issues
were touched on at the meetings, including state cooperation with the Tribunal,
the Expert Group Report, and the Tribunal’s budget. The meetings were all
constructive and President Jorda received strong support for the Tribunal’s
work from all quarters.

President Jorda
will travel to Arusha on Saturday, along with the other judges of the Appeals
Chamber, and is due to return on 23 February.

As you should
have seen from our press release on Tuesday, Judge Fausto Pocar was sworn in
as a judge of the ICTY to replace Judge Antonio Cassese. In addition, Judge
David Hunt was elected as presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II.

Also, I can confirm
that Milan Vujin has appealed the contempt of court ruling handed down by the
Appeals Chamber on 31 January, although the actual notice of appeal has been
filed confidentially.

The Kunarac and
Kovac trial is still set for 20 March, despite a motion from Zoran Vukovic to
have his case joined to the Kunarac and Kovac indictment. The Judges of Trial
Chamber II are still considering that motion. A pre-trial hearing has been set
for 2 March.

We have copies
of the parties’ appeal briefs in the Aleksovski appeal for those who don’t
already have a copy.



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

The Prosecutor,
Carla Del Ponte is in Arusha today. She is expected to leave for Kigali later
today or tomorrow.

Much of her schedule
will be determined once she arrives in Kigali, however, the Barayagwiza appeal
will be heard on the 22 February so she will be in Arusha by then.

Graham Blewitt,
The Deputy Prosecutor made no statement.



Asked for
his opinion on the Expert Group Report findings that the expected life of
the Tribunal was another 10 years, Blewitt replied that, when the OTP met
with the Group of Experts, they gave an opinion firstly on how long it would
take to complete the investigations and secondly on how long it would take
to complete the trials.

It was the view
of the OTP that another 36 investigations, involving 150 people remained to
be completed, hopefully by 2004, Blewitt said. The only exception to that
was the investigation into the KLA. This was because these particular investigations
were more complicated, due to the fact that at the moment the OTP had little
access to the Serb victims and Serb authorities who might be able to assist
in the progression of the case, he added.

If the 36 investigations
led to indictments and the apprehension of those 150 suspects and if joint
trials were held, it was the opinion of the OTP that it would take about 10
years to complete those particular trials.

If all of the
accused on one indictment were not apprehended at the same time, this forced
the Tribunal to have multiple trials on one indictment and these things could
not be predicted, he concluded.

Asked whether
the Dutch authorities would make similar arrangements to the German Government,
(in the light of the fact that the Standing Committee of Justice of the
Dutch Parliament was due to debate today the possible deportation of hundreds
of survivors of Srebrenica massacre), to enable refugees that the OTP required
as witnesses to stay in the Netherlands, Blewitt replied that the OTP had
witnesses who were refugees from the conflict in the Netherlands as in most
European countries.

He added that
arrangements were in place to grant those witnesses special treatment to ensure
they were not repatriated if repatriation was going to expose them to danger.

He was not aware
that any witnesses in Holland were going to be forcefully repatriated. If
that was the case, the OTP would make separate representations in respect
of the witnesses involved, he concluded.

Asked whether
the Prosecutor intended to attempt to visit Belgrade, Blewitt replied that
the Prosecutor was hoping to go to Belgrade at some stage, however, the
date was not yet determined. The Prosecutor’s schedule was very full
between now and June. An application for a visa would be made once time
for a visit arose.

Asked for
his opinion on reports seen in Albanian papers in Kosovo claiming that a
separate Tribunal was to be set up under the auspices of the ICTY for Kosovo,
Blewitt replied that, he was aware of a initiative to create courts to target
lower level perpetrators under the auspices of UNMIK. The OTP would work
with UNMIK in order to provide whatever expertise the Tribunal could, on
issues such as providing Tribunal evidence and witnesses. Any local prosecution
would be done in cooperation with the Tribunal and the Tribunal would have
an interest in watching those proceedings, he added.

He concluded
however that there was no other court being set up.

Asked for
a comment on the Pavle Bulatovic shooting, Blewitt replied that he could
only repeat what he had said on Monday. Bulatovic had been under investigation
by the OTP but was not the subject of a sealed indictment, he added. The
investigation covered Kosovo and other things he did not wish to elaborate
on. He added that Bulatovic would not be indicted. However, if an indictment
came forward in relation to particular investigations that he was connected
to, he could be mentioned in those indictments as a co-offender, which had
already happened in existing indictments, he said.

Asked whether
there was any more information on the KLA investigation, Blewitt replied
that there was not much, only that the OTP had information that the KLA
had committed crimes that fell under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. Consistent
with its mandate, the Tribunal would investigate all parties to a conflict
where crimes had been committed, he concluded.

Asked for
clarification of the fact that the OTP could not contact many of the victims
of these crimes, Blewitt replied that most of the victims had fled to Serbia
and other places. The OTP had no access to those witnesses and victims in
Serbia, however it was trying to gain access to them in other ways, he said.
The Belgrade authorities would also have details of what the KLA activities
were from their own intelligence and resources and the OTP wished to gain
access to that information. However until the OTP gained access it would
be very difficult to pursue the investigation to the point where they could
bring indictments.

Blewitt said that it was very much like the situation encountered in the early
days with the Republika Srpska. Prior to the Dayton Agreement the Tribunal
had no access to Republika Srpska and it was very difficult to get access
to victims and witnesses in that region. This did improve after Dayton, when
indictments were issued in which Serbs were the victims.

Asked whether
the OTP planned to take any action following the complaint handed to them
by the Mothers of Srebrenica in a meeting on Friday, Blewitt replied that
he had not read the complaint and was not present at that meeting, however,
he said that he felt that that some common sense had to be exercised. It
might be theoretically possible for allegations to be made that someone
was involved in the commission of war crimes falling under the Tribunal’s
jurisdiction, however to suggest that the UN in it’s role as a peace-keeper
trying to bring about peace in the former Yugoslavia, in particular Bosnia,
had motives which would amount to crimes over which the Tribunal had jurisdiction
was unrealistic. He added that, whilst it might be possible to present an
argument in theory that someone had committed a crime, he believed it to
be a nonsense when you looked at the activities of the people who were named
in the complaint.

He concluded
that the OTP would not be taking that particular complaint seriously.

Asked whether
the OTP was prepared to let the authorities of Croatia investigate operations
"Flash" and "Storm", Blewitt replied that his initial
response to this question was that it would be unlikely. He added however
that there was now a new regime in Croatia with all the indications being
that the new government would cooperate fully with the Tribunal and he hoped
that would be the case.

Asked whether
there had been any contacts between the new government and the Tribunal,
Blewitt replied that there had not been apart from some correspondence.
The liaison office in Zagreb had been in touch with various ministries,
however no high level approaches had been made as the OTP was waiting for
the election to be completed on Monday. They were very pleased to see President
Mesic win the election and there would be a visit by the Prosecutor to Zagreb
at the soonest possible opportunity bearing in mind that she would be in
Africa for most this month and that she had other trips planned for March.
It was possible that the earliest she could go there was early April, which
was consistent with allowing the new government to get itself operational
and become familiar with all the issues involving the Tribunal. A meeting
at around that time could be very productive, he concluded.

Asked whether
there was a trial date set for the Krstic case, Landale replied that there
was no date set yet and that no scheduling order had been received. However,
the date of March 13 had been specified in an order as a ‘target date’
for the beginning of the trial. This could change, however, he added.

Asked whether
there was a date set for Blaskic, Landale replied that there was nothing
confirmed yet and no scheduling order had been filed, but it looked like
it would be sometime at the end of this month.

Asked whether
the OTP planned to appeal the Vujin contempt decision, Blewitt replied that
when you looked at the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, there was no was
no provision for such an appeal from the decision of the Appeals Chamber
and he was not aware of any decision on the part of the OTP to launch any

Asked how
far the Prosecution had gone in deciding whether they would appeal in the
Jelesic case, Blewitt replied that the final determination was delayed until
an English copy of the judgement was received some weeks ago. He added that
it was an active issue and that a decision would be made soon as there was
a deadline.

Asked whether
the OTP still felt, as they said in their notice of appeal, that the judgement
had raised fundamental questions of law, Blewitt replied that there were
fundamental questions of law. The framing of the Prosecution’s appeal,
the possible outcome of an appeal and whether or not a particular case was
the best case in which to raise this particular question or whether it was
better to wait for another case which might have different factual circumstances
which might influence the outcome of the appeal, were all considerations
to take into account. The grounds of appeal had been formulated and the
OTP was going through some policy issues rather than legal issues and an
answer would be given in the near future, he said.