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Weekly Press Briefing - 17 February 2011

Date: 17.02.2011
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

Nerma Jelačić, Spokesperson for Registry and Chambers, made the following statement:

Good afternoon,

In the case of Radovan Karadžić, the Trial Chamber made public yesterday an order in lieu of indictment and an arrest warrant for Dr. Berko Zečević, who has been charged with contempt for failing to comply with the Chamber’s order to appear as a witness before the Trial Chamber. Dr. Zečević was arrested by the Bosnian Authorities last Friday. He has yet to be transferred to the Detention Unit, following which the date and time of his initial appearance will be announced.

Dr. Zečević is an associate professor and head of the defence technology department at the mechanical engineering faculty of the University of Sarajevo. He has testified before the Tribunal as an expert witness on ballistics in the trials of Slobodan Milošević, Dragomir Milošević and Stanislav Galić and as a fact witness in the trial of Momčilo Krajišnik

At OTP’s request, a subpoena was issued for Zečević to appear as a witness in the Karadžić case to testify on the nature of munitions supplied to and used by the Bosnian Serb army and the location from which the projectile that hit the Markale Market in Sarajevo on 5 February 1994 was fired. Despite all possible consequences for not answering the subpoena was made clear to him, he gave a number of reasons for not testifying including that he has already been to The Hague five times testifying in four trials, his career has suffered due to his cooperation with the Tribunal, that he was not treated well by OTP during his cooperation and that he cannot sit for a long time due to his health problems.

According to the Rules, it is up to the Chamber to decide in any given case how long is an appropriate time for a witness to testify, and in the Karadžić case the Chamber decides, witness by witness, how much time Karadžić should have for cross-examination for each of those. Even though the witnesses have no say in this matter, the Tribunal and the Chamber, particularly in this case, is willing to be flexible in ensuring that any witness's medical condition is taken into consideration and arrangements can be made such as reducing the length of sessions, in order to accommodate. This possibility of accommodation was made clear to Zečević.

Also in the Karadžić trial, the Chamber yesterday filed its written decision on the Accused’s motion for a suspension of proceedings. It ordered that the proceedings be suspended for a period of six weeks, from 21 March onwards, to allow the Accused and his defence team to review the large volume of material disclosed to him by the Prosecution at the end of January. The hearings will resume on Thursday, 5 May. The Chamber reiterated its deep concern about the volume of potentially exculpatory material which the Prosecution continues to disclose to the Accused, and the impact which this has had on his preparations and the smooth conduct of this trial. The Chamber asked Prosecution to take the opportunity of the suspension period to expedite its searches for outstanding material to be disclosed so as to prevent any further delays in the proceedings.

Turning to the upcoming courtroom schedule:

I would first like to remind you that the Judgement in the case of Vlastimir Đorđević will be rendered on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 at 14:15 in Courtroom I. Đorđević, a former senior Serbian police official, is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against Kosovo Albanian civilians in 1999.

On Tuesday morning next week, 22 February, the trial in the second contempt of court case of Vojislav Šešelj will start. Šešelj is accused of having disclosed information on 11 protected witnesses, including their names, occupations and places of residence, in a book he authored.

On Wednesday, a Status Conference in the trial of Ramush Haradinaj and others will be held at 9:00 am in Courtroom II.

In the trial of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, the last Prosecution witness testified last week on Wednesday. Prosecution has called a total of 62 witnesses. The Chamber yesterday ordered that a Rule 98bis hearing be held in the first half of April 2011. This hearing is to be held in accordance with the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure which state that upon the closing of the Prosecutor’s case and upon the request of the Accused, the Trial Chamber shall enter a judgement of acquittal on any count should it find that there is no evidence capable of supporting a conviction.

Closing arguments in the trial of Jadranko Prlić and others have been taking place since Monday 7 February. The Prosecution has asked a sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment for Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak and Milivoj Petković. It has requested 35 years for Valentin Corić and 25 years for Berislav Pušić. The Defence Closing Arguments for Prlić and Stojić have been completed with both defence teams asking for an acquittal. The Chamber is currently hearing those of Praljak, which will be followed by Petković, Corić and Pušić. Each Defence team has 5 hours to present their arguments.

Hearings in the trials of Radovan Karadžić and Zdravko Tolimir, respectively, continue this week and next as scheduled.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Frederick Swinnen, member of the Prosecutor’s Immediate Office, made the following statement:

Last Tuesday, 15 February, Mr. Brammertz, the Prosecutor, met with Mr. Jandroković, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Croatia, at the Tribunal. They discussed issues related to the cooperation between Croatia and the Office of the Prosecutor.

Mr. Brammertz will be travelling to Belgrade next week. On 22 February, he will have meetings with President Tadić, Minister Ljajić, Chairman of the Council for Cooperation with the Tribunal, Prosecutor for War Crimes, Vukcević, and the operational services in charge of tracking fugitives. The purpose of this visit is to discuss the cooperation between Serbia and the OTP and, in particular, the non arrest of the fugitives, Mr. Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. There will be a new mission to Belgrade prior to sending the next report to the Security Council.


Asked if the Šešelj contempt trial is scheduled next week for the entire week, Jelačić confirmed that the trial is scheduled next week for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.