note that this is not a verbatim transcript of the Press Briefing. It is merely
Date: 22 December 1999
Time: 11:30 p.m.
Christian Chartier, Head of the Public Information Services made the following
Good morning all,
We have the pleasure
of welcoming at today’s briefing Justice Carla Del Ponte. As you may remember,
the Prosecutor had said that she would meet with the press after 100 days in
office, and today is the day.
Prior to giving
her the floor, I would like to make a couple of announcements pertaining to
Chambers and Registry.
Galic, detained last Monday morning by SFOR forces in Banja Luka, was transferred
yesterday evening at 9.05 p.m. at the ICTY’s Detention Unit. His initial appearance
has been scheduled to take place on Wednesday 29 December at 11 a.m.
Secondly, on 17
December Judge Rodrigues confirmed an amended indictment against Radoslav Brdanin
and Momir Talic. Initially, both accused were charged with one count of persecution
as a crime against humanity. They are now charged each with two counts of genocide,
as part of 11 additional counts, including four new counts of crimes against
humanity, two new counts of violations of the laws or customs of war and three
counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.
Copies of this
amended indictment will be available after this briefing.
accused will make a further initial appearance to enter a plea on the new counts
they are now charged with. This hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday 11 January
at 10.30 a.m.
Finally, on 20
December, Trial Chamber III denied the motions for provisional release filed
by Dragan Papic, Zoran Kupreskic and Mirjan Kupreskic.
The Trial Chamber
was not satisfied that the accused would not try to interfere with witnesses
and victims, and considered that releasing the accused shortly before the Judgement
was too high a risk. I remind you that the Judgement in the Kupreskic and others
case is due to be rendered on Friday 14 January at 9 a.m.
I am now pleased
to hand over to the Office of the Prosecutor.
OFFICE OF THE
Paul Risley, Spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor, made the following
Madame Carla Del
Ponte took up her position as Chief Prosecutor of the Tribunal on 15 September
1999. In the last 100 days the Prosecutor has made extensive visits to the regions
of both Rwanda and Yugoslav Tribunals. In the region of the former Yugoslavia
the Prosecutor has visited Skopje, Pristina, Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Zagreb,
meeting with government officials, local authorities and representatives of
the international community and peace keeping forces.
has also had the opportunity to report to the Security Council especially regarding
her ongoing work in Kosovo and in Rwanda.
Carla Del Ponte,
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia,
made the following statement:
Until now I have
been reluctant to make public statements about the work of my new office. As
you know I am Prosecutor for both the ICTY and the ICTR. Before speaking to
the media, I wanted to have time to see for myself how the two Tribunals functioned.
In particular, I wanted to see how the OTP functions in all its aspects.
My first 100 days
in office has now been completed, and I have been able to form my impressions
of how my Office discharging the mandate given to it by the Security Council.
Let me say at the outset that I am very impressed by the activity of both Tribunals.
Each of them faces different challenges, and has been successful in different
ways. I would like to say a few words about some of the main issues that will
face us in the year 2000.
I would first
like to speak about the Rwanda Tribunal because I have recently returned from
a three-week visit to Africa.
In the Rwanda
Tribunal I found good work being done. These are dedicated and highly motivated
people working in difficult conditions, and building complex cases against high-level
accused. Next year will perhaps be the most important year so far for the Rwanda
Tribunal. We will group together the accused for three major genocide prosecutions:
I myself will lead the prosecution of the "Government case" – the
prosecution of Ministers of the former regime in Rwanda; the Deputy prosecutor
will take the "Military case" – the prosecution of key figures in
the Ministry of Defence and the Army; and my Chief of Prosecutions will conduct
the third trial – the "Media case".
In addition, the
Appeals Chamber will shortly consider my application for a review of the decision
in the case of Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. The earlier decision -- now suspended
-- to release this notorious figure from custody, resulted in a crisis in relations
between the ICTR and the Government of Rwanda. However, I was able to enter
Rwanda to meet the staff of my office and to make my first visit to a massacre
site to see for myself the scale of the atrocities. I intend to return to Africa
early in the new year, and I hope that relations with the Government of Rwanda
will improve when the trials begin again. I am determined to spend a considerable
portion of my time on ICTR business, working on the way in which evidence is
presented to the Judges, on measures to trace the financial assets of the accused,
and on new ways to recognise the position of victims in our proceedings. So
the year 2000 will be a big year for the ICTR. I encourage you to follow developments
I would like to
repeat here that my top priority for the ICTY will be the arrest of leading
figures who are still at liberty. That issue has been on my agenda at every
meeting I have held in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere, and early in the
new year I will begin a further series of high level meetings with key Governments
to discuss the practical issues involved. I plan to be very active on this issue,
because everything depends upon indicted persons being arrested and brought
to trial. I therefore plan to visit London, Paris and Washington and also to
visit NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
The arrest of
General Galic is powerful indication of what can be done. He is now in the Tribunal’s
custody here in The Hague, and his initial appearance will take place within
the next few days. This is the latest in a successful series of detentions by
SFOR troops in Bosnia. I commend the SFOR forces for the support they give to
international justice, and have every confidence that we will see more such
arrests. For my part, I will continue to use the policy of seeking sealed indictments
so that the accused cannot take steps to place themselves beyond the reach of
There have been
recent encouraging signs of co-operation with the authorities of Republika Srpska
(RS). I have discussed the policy of sealed indictments with them, and they
know my position. If this co-operation continues, I am ready, in cases where
some accused have already been arrested, but sealed indictments exist against
co-accused, I am ready to reveal to the RS authorities the identity of those
sealed co accused, if the RS authorities are prepared to guarantee their co-operation
in making arrangements for the arrest of these fugitives.
There must be
no safe havens for those indicted for war crimes. It is disgraceful that the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has been allowed to become a refuge for alleged
war criminals, and I will be calling on the international community to address
this situation in every way it can. I will also take what steps I can to ensure
that wealthy accused are not permitted to use their resources to sustain their
efforts to remain at liberty. No single measure will solve the arrest issue,
we must address it simultaneously on many fronts, we must be creative in seeking
solutions, and as time passes we must not forget the horrendous nature of the
crimes that are within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
I will also continue
to press for action to be taken against any State that refuses to co-operate
with my Office in its investigations. The obligations of States to comply with
their obligations under international law are very clear, and the international
community must not tolerate any obstruction of the mandate given to the Tribunal.
Where I find such opposition to our work, I will continue to report the situation
to the President of this Tribunal for the attention of the Security Council.
We must not be naïve about the lengths to which certain elements may be
prepared to go to block our investigations. Evidence has been recently found
that points to concerted, organised and sinister attempts to interfere with
our work, and I intend to be extremely vigilant in this area. The security of
our investigations, and the safety of potential witnesses will therefore also
be high on my agenda for the year 2000. It is imperative that the Security Council,
our parent body, supports our efforts, and I am surprised that it has not yet
acted upon the report of Croatia’s failure to co-operate with my investigations
into allegations of crimes committed during and after operations Flash and Storm.
The security of
our work will be all the more important because next year will see an active
programme of both investigations and prosecutions. You know that we had to focus
much of our attention on Kosovo this year, because our jurisdiction is open-ended,
and we must deal with new crimes if they are committed. That means that in Kosovo
we will not only look at crimes committed by Serbs. We will also investigate
allegations against the KLA.
We have already
given details of the results of our exhumation work, and I will not repeat them
all today. We have already located 529 gravesites and recovered 2,108 bodies.
We found evidence of many more. The final exact figure will never be known because
of the steps taken to conceal the crimes, and we are continuing to receive reports
of new sites. We will therefore have a busy exhumation programme again next
will also continue in relation to Bosnia and to Croatia. You have not yet seen
the whole of the investigative activity of the OTP. It is my estimate that approximately
36 investigations must be completed before the Prosecutor can indicate to the
Security Council that our investigative mandate is exhausted. At present 19
investigations have begun, which means that a further 17 have to be started.
We expect that these will be finished progressively over the next 4 years, by
the end of 2004. We anticipate this will involve around 150 suspects, almost
all at a high level of responsibility. Some of these investigations will lead
to new indictments - and I hope more arrests - next year.
also be significant trials in the year 2000, some of which will reveal evidence
of matters that have not yet been dealt with at trial. We will see new chapters
of evidence unfold concerning, for example, Srebrenica and the campaign in and
around Sarajevo itself. You will begin to see the concrete results of a great
deal of work that has been going on behind the scenes for many months. And you
will also continue to see the development of our trial procedures because I
am eager to find new ways in which we can draw on the best elements of the common
law and civil law traditions. Both here and in Rwanda we are rapidly building
a unique legal system of which we can justifiably be proud.
points from the question and answer session:
indicated that she intended to divide her time next year between both Tribunals,
spending half the year in The Hague and the other half with the Rwanda Tribunal.
She also indicated
that in January she intended to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels in order
to discuss the mandate of the NATO forces in the former Yugoslavia.
She would also
visit Washington and Paris with the same intentions.
that she planned to address the Security Council on the issue of non-compliance
of states within the former Yugoslavia.
new procedures to be put into place to speed up arrests and trials on the
part of the OTP, a subject that is very important to the OTP.