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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 31st Jan 2001

ICTY Press Briefing - 31 January 2001

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

Weekly Press Briefing

Date: 31
January 2001

Time: 12:00


Chartier, Chief of the Public Information Services, made the following statement:

shall begin with some institutional news:

Secretary-General of the United Nations has appointed His Excellency Mohamed
El Habib Fassi Fihri, from Morocco, to succeed Judge Mohamed Bennouna as of
1 March 2001. Mr. El Habib Fassi Fihri was the Ambassador of Morocco to Austria
and Permanent Representative of Morocco to a number of Vienna-based UN institutions.
Judge Bennouna will leave the Tribunal at the end of February to take up new
duties at the diplomatic service of the Kingdom of Morocco. A press release
with more details will be distributed at the end of the briefing.

is the deadline for nominations by United Nations Member States of candidates
for election as permanent Judges serving at the ICTY for the period 2001-2005.
Three of the current Judges have decided not to seek re-election for another
term, namely Judge Vohrah (Malaysia), Judge Riad (Egypt), and Judge Wald (USA).

date has been set for the discussion of our supplementary budget for the ad
Judges: this budget will be discussed in New York on 9 February.

court proceedings:

the case of the Prosecutor against Goran Jelisic, the Appeals Chamber
has scheduled the hearing on the appeals lodged by both the Prosecution and
the Defence for Thursday 22 February at 10 a.m.

the case of the Prosecutor against Momir Talic and Radoslav Brdjanin, a
hearing to discuss the motion for provisional release filed by Momir Talic on
8 December 2000 will be held on Friday 2 February at 10 .30 a.m. In view of
this hearing, the Defence for the accused filed two documents late last week:

- firstly,
a notice that Mr. Bundalo will appear as a witness. Mr. Bundalo is Minister
of Internal Affairs in the Government of Republika Srpska;

- the
other document is a decision by the Government of Republika Srspka, confirming
the guarantees given late last year by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Dodik,
should Mr. Talic be provisionally released. This decision is signed by the
current Prime Minister of Republika Srspka, Mr. Ivanic. Copies of this will
be distributed at the end of the briefing.

with regard to legal filings, I would like to point out that:

an Order on 24 January by Trial Chamber III, the proceedings against Stefan
Todorovic have formally been separated from the proceedings against the four
other accused on the joint indictment (Blagoje Simic, Milan Simic, Miroslav
Tadic and Simo Zaric).

24 January, the Registrar issued a Decision extending until today the assignment
of Mr. Krstan Simic as defence counsel for Biljana Plavsic. This assignment
was initially made until 24 January. The Registrar’s decision followed a request
by the accused, who also requested in a letter dated 21 January that another
attorney be appointed as counsel.

as usual, the Information Services have prepared an updated Status of all on-going
cases, available at the end of this briefing.


Blewitt, Deputy Prosecutor of the ICTY, made no statement:



Asked why hearings
were being held in the Talic case concerning provisional release when a request
made by him had already been rejected, Christian Chartier replied that he
did not remember a previous request being discussed or rejected. He added
however, that the Defence was, at all times, free to file a new request on
new grounds, (for example that they had found new arguments they wished the
court to examine).

Asked for clarification
of reports that during the visit to Belgrade the OTP had given deadlines to
the Serbian Government for Milosevic and others to be transferred to The Hague,
Graham Blewitt replied there were no discussions about deadlines during the
visit, no deadlines were set or agreed upon during any of the meetings with
government officials either at the Serbian Republic level or at the Federal

During discussions
with the Foreign Justice Minister concerning ‘the implementing law’ that must
be passed in Yugoslavia in order for the Yugoslav Government to cooperate
with the Tribunal, discussions centered around time frames when the Minister
said that it would take some few weeks for the law to be drafted and introduced
to the Parliament. No time limits were set in terms of the surrender of Milosevic,
he added.

Graham Blewitt
went on to say that during her visit and meetings in Belgrade, the Prosecutor
insisted on Milosevic’s immediate arrest and transferal to the Tribunal. In
respect of that particular issue a number of positions had been put forward
by the people the Prosecutor held discussions with, including the need to
change public opinion in Yugoslavia.

The ordinary
citizen needed to accept that people like Milosevic were responsible for extremely
serious crimes including crimes in Srebrenica and Vukovar. Some of these crimes
having been committed in the name of ordinary citizens. Once the ordinary
Serb citizen accepted that Milosevic and people like him were responsible
for crimes, then it would be easier for the Serb people to accept their surrender
to the Tribunal.

The OTP agreed
with that position and would do what it could to begin to change the public
perception. The OTP believed that honest Serb citizens would demand that these
people be brought before the Tribunal once they realised that they were in
fact responsible for serious crimes such as those committed in Srebrenica,
Vukovar and Kosovo.

Graham Blewitt
confirmed that the OTP noticed that after the meetings in Belgrade a number
of Serb officials made statements that were a little inconsistent with what
had been discussed. He was pleased to see that since the visit the public
statements being made by the Ministers were very positive, leading towards
full cooperation with the Tribunal.

This was extremely
encouraging. There was a will to cooperate with the Tribunal and it was accepted
by all those visited, including President Kostunica, that Yugoslavia did have
legal obligations to the Tribunal with regard to the Chapter VII nature of
the Tribunal’s mandate and as a consequence of Yugoslavia’s membership of
the UN.

This represented
a complete change in position of the Yugoslav Government. The former government
under Milosevic did not accept the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, so the statements
by Kostunica and others represented a fundamental change of position from
the Yugoslav side. The OTP welcomed that and were looking forward to more
positive signs of cooperation in the future including the passing of this
domestic implementing law, he concluded.

Asked to confirm
that Milosevic was not indicted for crimes committed in Vukovar and Srebrenica,
Graham Blewitt replied that although Milosevic was not indicted in respect
of Srebrenica and Vukovar, Serbs had been responsible with regard to serious
crimes in these places.

Asked to comment
on statements made by the Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister and the Serbian Justice
Minister that it was about time Milosevic did something good for Yugoslavia
and went to the Hague and it was only a matter of time before Milosevic would
come to the Hague, whether voluntarily or not, Graham Blewitt replied that
he was encouraged by these statements and he believed that this reflected
the consequences of the Prosecutor’s visit to Belgrade last week. This represented
a positive change in attitude towards cooperation with the Tribunal. He added
that he supported demands that Milosevic surrender himself to the Tribunal.
The OTP would never argue with that position. He concluded that he was very
encouraged to hear statements that if Milosevic did not surrender voluntarily,
he would be surrendered to the Tribunal in the near future and not in the
long term. He found the statements encouraging and consistent with the expressions
of support the Prosecutor was given during her meetings last week.

Asked for an
opinion on the fact that General Perisic was recently appointed Deputy Prime
Minister of Serbia and whether he was under investigation by the Tribunal,
Graham Blewitt replied that the OTP did not comment on people who were or
were not under investigation by the Tribunal.

Asked to comment
on the fact that Louise Arbour had publicly announced that she was interested
in General Perisic and in receiving documents from Croatia on this subject,
and whether the Tribunal had attempted to contact him, Graham Blewitt replied
that firstly he was not sure whether the documents were received from Croatia.
What Louise Arbour said some time ago still stood. The OTP was still interested
in General Perisic. Graham Blewitt concluded that he would not comment upon
whether or not he was under investigation, He maintained the traditional view
of the Prosecutor concerning suspects or potential suspects: "The OTP
did not comment".

Asked whether
contact had been made with the General, Blewitt replied that this again was
an operational matter and that he would not comment.

Asked whether
the Prosecutor would be making a trip to Montenegro on 15 and 16 February
and for what reason this second visit would be made, Blewitt replied that
the Prosecutor was planning a trip to Montenegro in the near future. He did
not want to specify days. There was no particular significance in the visit.
It was part of the routine programme of visits to the region. The Prosecutor
would also be visiting Bosnia to meet with the new governments that were elected
there last year and also returning to Belgrade, he concluded.

Asked whether
the Prosecutor would meet with the usual group of officials, Graham Blewitt
said that she would.

Asked whether
the OTP was satisfied with the cooperation they were receiving from Montenegro,
Graham Blewitt replied that cooperation was ongoing and satisfactory and at
a time when the OTP investigators were refused access to Serbia, they did
have access to Montenegro and Montenegro was a vehicle by which to access
Serb victims and witnesses.

At a time when
the OTP could not access Serbia the cooperation with Montenegro was useful.
At that time it demonstrated Montenegro’s willingness to assist the Tribunal
not withstanding the negative and uncooperative attitude of Belgrade. The
situation in Belgrade had now changed and the OTP did not have to rely on
Montenegro to provide that kind of support. It would become easier for the
Tribunal to operate in Serbia without Montenegro’s assistance. Having said
that there were refugees and potential witnesses still in Montenegro so the
OTP would still require access to such witnesses in order to advance its investigations
in those cases were Serbs were victims. For that reason alone the OTP would
continue to operate in Montenegro, he concluded.

Asked for a
comment on the fact that a relative of Milan and Sredoje Lukic had been made
as Deputy of Police Minister for Public Order, Graham replied that he did
not know this fact but that he had no comment to make.