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Weekly Press Briefing - 11 January 2012

Date:  11.01.2012
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers: 

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

Good afternoon,

Welcome back to the Tribunal and Happy New Year.

Proceedings in the trials of Radovan Karadžić, Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović as well as Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin resumed yesterday.

In the Karadžić trial, the Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of Freddy Peccerelli, a forensic anthropologist. He is the 148th witness to be called by the Prosecution. The trial is in the final phase of the Prosecution case, covering the crimes committed in Srebrenica. This follows completion of the Sarajevo, hostages and municipalities phases.

In the Stanišić and Simatović case, Simatović’s defence case resumed yesterday with the continuation of the testimony of protected witness DFS-014. This witness is testifying about events in the Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina during the period relevant to the indictment.

As to the case of Stanišić and Župljanin, the defence case closed on 8 December. The Prosecution called yesterday its first witness in rebuttal, Mirza Lišinović, formerly a police inspector in Doboj. Following this testimony, another OTP rebuttal witness is expected to take the stand.

Tomorrow afternoon in Courtroom III, a hearing has been scheduled to be held in the case of Zdravko Tolimir. His defence case has been scheduled to start on Monday, 23 January at 14:15 in Courtroom III.

Upcoming key dates for the remainder of January are as follows:

A total of four status conferences will be held in the course of this month in the appeals cases of Vlastimir Đorđević, which will be held on Monday, 16 January; that of Nikola Šainović and others on Thursday, 19 January; that of Milan and Sredoje Lukić on Monday, 23 January; and finally that of Ante Gotovina and others which will be held on Thursday, 26 January 2012. On Thursday, 19 January, a Status Conference will be held in the case of Ratko Mladić, which is in the pre-trial phase.

As to the ongoing contempt proceedings, the trial of Milan Tupajić, who has been charged with contempt of the Tribunal for failing to testify in the case of Radovan Karadžić, has been scheduled to start on Friday 20 January at 9:00 in Courtroom I. The trial of Jelena Rašić, a member of Milan Lukić’s Defence team who is accused of obtaining false witness statements, will start on Monday, 23 January at 9:00 in Courtroom I.

Turning now to other issues, on 23 December the UN General Assembly passed a resolution on the Tribunal’s budget for the upcoming biennium, approving the budget of $281,036,100 gross ($250,814,300 net) for 2012-2013. In the budget resolution, the Assembly recognised “the critical importance of retaining highly skilled and experienced staff members with relevant institutional memory in order to successfully complete the trials and meet the targets set out in the completion strategy of the Tribunal.” The passing of the budget reflects the Member States' ongoing support for the completion of the Tribunal's mandate and guarantees the ICTY's ability to continue the important work with which it has been entrusted.

Finally, the Tribunal’s Outreach Programme has launched a new project aimed at explaining the Tribunal’s work and achievements to high school students across the region of the former Yugoslavia. Presentations have already taken place last December in Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Prijedor. Presentations will also be held at high schools in Kosovo this winter term and it is hoped that arrangements will be finalised for presentations to be held in Serbia and Croatia later this academic year.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Frederick Swinnen, Special Adviser to the Prosecutor, also wished a Happy New Year to those present and went on to make the following administrative announcement:

OTP has a new email address for all media queries and interview requests: ContactOTP [at] icty.org


A journalist asked whether Rasim Ljajić was in The Hague. Jelačić confirmed that he has announced a visit to the Tribunal and will be meeting a number of officials to discuss a range of ongoing issues.

Asked what the difference is between the gross and net figures for the budget resolution, Jelačić confirmed that the net figures are exclusive of staff assessment.

Asked when Vojislav Šešelj would be due back at the UN Detention Unit, Jelačić replied that a statement issued by the Tribunal earlier in the week clearly said that once detainees are taken out of the UNDU, issues pertaining to their security and safety are in the hands of the Dutch authorities. According to those rules, disclosure of details of the location or the movements of the detainee is not permitted for the safety of the accused. For this reason it is not possible to indicate when Šešelj will return to the UNDU. Jelačić confirmed that Šešelj is receiving the best possible care available in the Dutch Health System. She reiterated, contrary to statements made yesterday in Belgrade concerning the ‘clinical death’ of the accused, that medical information currently available indicates that he is stable and that his condition is not life-threatening. Jelačić went on to refute claims that the Tribunal has not kept the accused’s family informed of developments in his health status. The Tribunal has been keeping the accused’s family and certain representatives of his legal team appraised of the situation throughout the weekend and has gone out of its way to enable the accused to speak to his wife via telephone earlier this week. The Tribunal has also facilitated a visit to the hospital by the accused’s wife which has already taken place and will be repeated during the course of his stay here.

In response to further questions, Jelačić explained that she was not in a position to say more about the accused’s medical condition as Šešelj continues to refuse to allow the Tribunal to disclose information on his current health situation to the Chamber or to the public at large. Jelačić confirmed that the accused is receiving constant care and attention.

A journalist asked whether Šešelj’s current health condition is connected to the allegations of his legal advisor that he was prevented from photocopying a letter of protest to the President of the ICTY on 3 January 2012. Jelačić stated that this matter is now before the President to decide. She also informed journalists that a submission by the Registrar on this issue filed on 9 January explains in detail that self-represented accused have office space available to them for the preparation of their defence. This area is equipped with technical equipment such as telephones, printers and a photocopying machine. All self-represented accused can use this area on an extended-hours basis. Jelačić explained that the Security guards in the UNDU cannot perform clerical duties. This being said, UNDU staff can facilitate the provision of help of this nature to the accused if a request is made in writing, in accordance with the rules governing procedures for self-represented accused. These rules are well-known to self-represented accused and in particular those who have been representing themselves for several years.   Jelačić confirmed that the accused has not been prevented from filing the complaint. The President has asked Šešelj to reply to the Registrar’s submission, and his ruling on the matter will be final.

In response to repeated questions as to whether specific health conditions such as high blood pressure or a heart attack might have been provoked by this photocopying issue, the Spokesperson responded that such enquiries were highly speculative and as such did not merit further comment. In relation to questions about Šešelj’s medical history, Jelačić mentioned that this has been discussed in public sessions at his main trial on number of occasions.  With regard to his current hospitalisation, Jelačić would make no connection between this and the issues regarding photocopying.

In relation to proceedings in the Seselj case, Swinnen stated that the Trial Chamber had on 22 December 2011, issued a decision, taking note of the report of the Amicus curiae looking into allegations of misconduct of OTP staff. The Chamber found that based on the findings of the amicus report, there was no basis for initiating contempt proceedings against OTP staff. After a lengthy investigation, this outcome confirms, as maintained since the beginning by the OTP, that its staff had conducted their work in a professional manner and that these allegations were unfounded.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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