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Weekly Press Briefing - 24 August 2011

Date: 24.08.2011
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

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

Good afternoon,

I will immediately turn to the activities in the courtrooms:

Yesterday, a Status Conference was held in the case of Vojislav Šešelj, during which the Accused informed the Chamber that he did not intend on calling defence witnesses but that he would present closing arguments, for which he requested 10 days. It is now for the Chamber to rule on the future course of the proceedings, and the Judges will meet today to discuss the matter. The Chamber also briefly discussed the health situation of the Accused. The Chamber said that, according to the report of two medical experts who have examined Šešelj, it had no particular reason to be concerned about his health. Šešelj has yet to be examined by a cardiologist after refusing to be examined by the one designated by the Registrar. The next administrative hearing will be held in October, at a day and time to be confirmed.

In the re-trial of Ramush Haradinaj and others, the Chamber this morning decided to admit the transcript of Shefqet Kabashi’s testimony which he gave in the Limaj and others case. Kabashi, a former member of the Kosovo Liberation Army and key Prosecution witness in the case, is facing contempt of court charges for refusing or failing to answer questions while testifying before the Trial Chamber in 2007.  His further initial appearance will be held this Friday, at 12:00 in Courtroom III during which he will be given an opportunity to enter a plea to the charges he faces.

In the trial of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, the Trial Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of a protected witness who is testifying in closed session. The Chamber has partially granted Stanišić’s request for postponement of proceedings and the trial will adjourn on 5 September for a total of four weeks.

In the case of Zdravko Tolimir, expert witness Richard Butler, a former military analyst in the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY, is testifying about the Army of Republika Srpska’s organisation and structure during its operation in Srebrenica.

In the trial of Radovan Karadžić, the Trial Chamber will this afternoon hear the testimony of Dževad Gušić, former President of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in Bratunac, who is testifying about the events there during the indictment period.

This afternoon, Goran Hadžić’s further initial appearance will be held at 15:00 in Courtroom III. Yesterday, the Pre-trial Chamber granted the Registrar’s request for an extension of time until Friday, 23 September to assign counsel to the Accused, so as to have time to assess the qualifications of the counsel of the Accused’s choice who is not currently among the Rule 45 list of qualified lawyers maintained by the Registrar. Mr Zoran Živanović will remain duty counsel until the Lead Counsel has been appointed.

Tomorrow afternoon, a Status Conference will be held in the case of Ratko Mladić, 14:30 in Courtroom III.

Please note that the Tribunal will be closed next Tuesday for Eid ul-Fitr.

Finally, I would like to remind you that today is the first interactive press briefing, which means that media and members of the public who are not able to attend the press briefing, will from now on be able to send us questions in writing and have them answered following the briefing’s Q&A session.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Frederick Swinnen, Special Adviser to the Prosecutor, made no statement.


A journalist asked if Šešelj’s request to go to closing arguments now would mean he would present his arguments before the Prosecution. Nerma Jelačić responded that the final outcome of the future course of the proceedings will be outline in the decision of the Judges. Jelačić pointed out that the Accused yesterday repeated his claim that he is not presenting a defence case because of the financing issues regarding his defence and his ultimate disagreement with the Registry’s procedures which are in place before any legal-aid payments can be made. Jelačić explained that there are a number of issues that the Trial Chamber needs to resolve before making the decision on the future course of the proceedings. Should the decision on the future course of the proceedings be that the closing arguments are the next step, then the closing arguments will take place in accordance with the usual rules, which are that both parties will be heard, starting with the Officer of the Prosecutor and then the Defence. Jelačić stressed that proceedings are not yet at a stage where it can definitely be said that the next thing that will happen will be the closing arguments. Jelačić explained that there are other issues which first need to be considered, as discussed yesterday during the administrative hearing.

Asked what the fact that Hadžić’s choice of counsel is not on the Rule 45 list of qualified lawyers means and whether it means that the Accused will be present in court today, whether someone else has been assigned or whether there have to be further checks, Jelačić explained that there will be a Duty Counsel present in the courtroom, and that will be Mr Zivanovic. She added that the Duty Counsel had been appointed previously in accordance with the practice and the rules of the Tribunal. Jelačić explained that upon the arrival of an accused, a certain amount of time is needed for the accused to make his final choice of preferred lead Defence Counsel and Defence team. Until that permanent counsel is appointed, an accused needs to be represented by a Duty Counsel. Therefore, Hadžić’s Duty Counsel will be in the courtroom today. Jelačić explained that the fact that the counsel that he has requested to be appointed as permanent is not on the list does not mean he is not able to be admitted to the list. It just means that he has not already gone through the procedure where his qualification, experience and suitability for practicing before the ICTY were established. These conditions must be met before the Registrar can make a decision to appoint the counsel. Jelačić added that once this has been done and if Hadžić’s choice of Counsel fulfils the conditions required by the rules, he will be admitted to the list and then appointed as permanent counsel.

Asked where Hadžić’s preferred counsel comes from, Jelačić said she is not able to disclose at this stage any of his details as the members of Hadžić’s Defence team have not been publicly named yet. The name will be made public as soon as he has been appointed.

Asked about last week’s concerns regarding Mladić’s health and whether he is able to appear at his Status Conference tomorrow, Jelačić took this opportunity to reject last week’s speculations and emphasised that reports that Mladić had been transferred to the Bronovo civilian hospital in The Hague were absolutely inaccurate. Jelačić stressed that Mladić has not been transferred to a hospital and has never left the complex in Scheveningen. Jelačić emphasised that this does not mean that detainees are unable to receive medical care and treatment within the Detention Unit or wider penitentiary system if required. Jelačić said she was not able to disclose whether Mladić received any treatment or not. She repeated that he, like any other accused, is receiving the best possible care and if any treatment is needed, he is receiving that treatment too. Jelačić added that neither the Chamber nor the Registry have been informed of any concerns or have any reasons to be concerned about his health and his ability to participate in the trial.
Turning to the questions received as part of the Interactive Press Briefing, the Spokesperson responded to the following question:

A journalist has asked about the work of the ICTY in relation to its cooperation with the local judiciary in the region, how this cooperation is ongoing and whether it can be deemed a success or failure in terms of helping local judiciaries in dealing with war crimes cases, Nerma Jelačić responded that the training and capacity-building of local legal practitioners in the region has always been an important aspect of the Tribunal’s work and its mandate.
The Outreach Programme has been a driving force in facilitating meetings and sharing of experiences between ICTY staff and their counterparts in the region since its establishment in 1999. The ICTY staff has trained local judges, prosecutors, court staff, police officers and other state officials on a variety of topics including international humanitarian and criminal law, witness protection and witness support, investigative techniques as well as case management.

Since July 2010, the Tribunal has been actively involved in the EU-funded War Crimes Justice Project and activities have included a variety of training, such as the use of analytical tools, as well as peer-to-peer meetings between ICTY Judges and their local counterparts. The Project has received a lot of positive feedback from the local judiciaries and their reliance on ICTY procedures, developed practices and usage of ICTY tools is our greatest indicator of success so far.


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