note that this is not a verbatim transcript of the Press Briefing. It is merely
Weekly Press Briefing
Date: 4 April 2001
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Christian Chartier, Head of Public Information Services, made the following
morning to you all, I am joined today by Mr. Stephane Bourgon, Chef de Cabinet
of the President, and by Mr. Jean-Jacques Joris, Diplomatic Adviser to the Prosecutor.
part of the ongoing efforts for full cooperation between the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
(FRY), the Registrar of the Tribunal, Mr. Hans Holthuis, has been mandated by
the President of the Tribunal, Judge Claude Jorda, and the Prosecutor, Carla
Del Ponte, to travel to Belgrade to discuss practical modalities in connection
with the FRY’s legal obligations, under the Statute of the Tribunal.
this end, the Registrar, who is leaving today will have a series of legal meetings
with, among others, the Federal Minister of Justice, Mr. Momcilo Grubac, the
Serbian Minister of Justice Mr. Vladan Batic, and, it is anticipated, the Serbian
Interior Minister, Mr. Dusan Mihajlovic.
Holthuis is travelling in his neutral capacity as Registrar to clarify to the
authorities in Belgrade the steps that have to be taken to fulfil their legal
obligations set out in the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, so that
the authorities are clear on the course of future cooperation with the Tribunal.
Holthuis will also hand over the Tribunal’s arrest warrant for Slobodan Milosevic
to ensure that it is served on the accused. In addition, the Registrar will
be seeking information on the nature of the charges being brought against Slobodan
Milosevic in the district court in Belgrade, so as to be able to evaluate the
possible connection between the charges and the Tribunal’s indictment.
Bourgon, Chef de Cabinet of the President, made the following statement:
behalf of the President of the Tribunal I would like to make a very short statement
concerning the follow up to the arrest of Mr. Milosevic in Belgrade. This statement
is simply that Mr. Milosevic like all other persons indicted who are arrested
by a member of the UN must be transferred to the Tribunal. This is the Tribunal’s
position. That being said, the President is of the view that the situation in
this case has a special character. This special character has nothing to do
with Mr. Milosevic himself or the fact that he was the head of state before.
The special character in this case is simply that the FRY wishes to prosecute
him for common law crimes. This is what the Tribunal needs to address now.
OF THE PROSECUTOR
Jean-Jacques Joris, Advisor to the Prosecutor no statement.
what ‘special character’ meant for the Tribunal, Jean-Jacques Joris replied
that the Prosecutor’s emphasis had always been on the transfer of Mr. Milosevic
to The Hague. He added that his arrest made this transfer possible. Transfer
was the result of an international obligation Yugoslavia had to comply with.
This obligation was not negotiable, in the case of Mr. Milosevic or anyone
else, regardless of rank or citizenship. Mr. Milosevic’s position as far
as the OTP was concerned was not affected by any ongoing national proceedings.
That being said, the Prosecutor had no objection to local charges being
raised against Mr. Milosevic and it was with the full agreement of the OTP
that once Mr. Milosevic was transferred to The Hague, it would be possible
for the Serbian judicial investigating authorities to continue their investigations
and interviews of Mr. Milosevic while in custody in The Hague, he concluded.
to clarify this statement as it was different to what was said yesterday
to Reuters, Jean-Jacques Joris repeated that the emphasis of the Prosecutor
had always been on the absolute, non-negotiable obligation of Yugoslavia
to comply with Mr. Milosevic’s transfer to The Hague.
Bourgon added that the President and the Prosecutor were of the same view,
which was that the obligation rested on the authorities of the FRY to transfer
Mr. Milosevic at the earliest possible opportunity. That being said, in this
case a sovereign state had filed common law charges against one of its own
citizens and the FRY could not be prohibited from doing so. Now the Tribunal
had to assess the situation to ascertain when and how the authorities of the
FRY would respect their legal obligations to transfer Mr. Milosevic at the
earliest possible opportunity.
whether the fact that the OTP had carried out extensive investigations to
find Mr. Milosevic’s assets in foreign bank accounts (and that according
to an article the Prosecutor was prepared to give information on this to
the Yugoslav authorities to assist them in their domestic proceedings) would
affect the date of Mr. Milosevic’s transfer to The Hague, Jean Jacques Joris
replied that it would have no bearing on the date of the transfer of Mr.
Milosevic, as the investigations by the Serbian authorities could go on
when Mr. Milosevic was in custody at the Tribunal. As for cooperation with
Belgrade on the financial investigation, this was already made clear about
ten days ago at the Press conference after the visit of Ministers Grubac
and Batic. The Prosecutor was ready to assist the Yugoslav authorities in
those investigations. The OTP had valuable information for them. This underlined
that cooperation was not only a legal obligation for Yugoslavia but could
also be beneficial for Yugoslavia, he concluded.
to clarify the apparent contradiction between a statement he made yesterday
in which he said that immediate commitment was needed from Yugoslavia, even
if the transfer could take some time and today’s statement that the transfer
had to be as soon as possible, Jean-Jacques Joris replied that the emphasis
had always been on the absolute legal obligation of the FRY. It might have
been thought that over the last two or three days the OTP had adopted a
line that was a little less prominent. The arrest of Milosevic had provoked
no upheavals in Yugoslavia the situation was firmly in hand there was no
reason why the OTP should not make its position very clear that Milosevic
should be transferred to The Hague immediately.
whether he was worried by the recent declaration from the Serbian authorities
that they had no commitment to the transfer of Mr. Milosevic, Jean-Jacques
Joris replied that the OTP was not worried, and were aware of the statements
made by several individuals and high authorities in Yugoslavia. The arguments
of a national law on cooperation had a different meaning for the OTP. Yugoslavia
might feel it had the need for a law to organise the technicalities of cooperation.
The OTP’s position to that was regardless of whether there was a law, the
absence or imperfections of such a law should not in any case justify lack
of cooperation or imperfect cooperation. The obligation of Yugoslavia to
cooperate was non-negotiable. If Yugoslavia chose to have a law it was to
make it easier for internal proceedings but that was of no direct concern
to the Tribunal.
whether the OTP was worried about the reaction of the international community,
Javier Solana for example, advising them not to put any pressure on Yugoslavia
to transfer Milosevic, Jean-Jacques Joris replied that the OTP had observed
a very consistent line in the international community which was that Milosevic
must be transferred to The Hague. There might be variations in emphasis
or in the tone being used but the bottom line was that Yugoslavia must comply
and that Yugoslavia must transfer Mr. Milosevic, there was no inconsistency
on that point, he concluded.
Bourgon added that the Tribunal’s legal position concerning a law on cooperation
was that such a law was not absolutely necessary for Mr. Milosevic to be transferred
to the Tribunal and this was simply on the basis that international obligations
of a state had primacy over national legislation or over any other extradition
treaties which they may try to invoke. This was also recognised in the Rules
of Procedure and Evidence, Rule 58. The Tribunal had said through the voice
of the President, in the past that for the sake of the application of the
rule of law within the FRY that may be the adoption of a law on cooperation
could be positive for both the Tribunal and the FRY. This was why the Tribunal
insisted on being kept informed of the progress of the adoption of the law.
whether the Registrar was going to Belgrade to hand over the arrest warrant
that the Prosecutor had already handed over in January, Christian Chartier
confirmed that was correct and that the Registrar would hand them over again.
He said that the documents were exactly the same, however the Tribunal would
take them once again to make sure that the Yugoslav authorities were familiar
with the documents. He also said that Mr. Holthuis would request that the
documents be served on the accused.
Bourgon added that on 23 January those documents were given to the authorities
of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. At that time Mr. Milosevic was not
in custody. Now he was in custody, the Registrar would fulfill his role as
was indicated in the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, he would
travel to Belgrade and ask the authorities to give the arrest warrant and
indictment to the accused in custody regardless of the special circumstances.
whether Mr. Milosevic could be transferred to The Hague without the cooperation
of Mr. Kostunica, Jean-Jacques Joris replied that this was not for him to
answer. The state of the FRY was a subject of international law and had
an obligation to comply. Whether it was Mr. Kostunica, the police or the
Minister of Justice was not of their concern.
whether, practically speaking, it would be possible and whether it was a
threat to his transfer, Jean-Jacques Joris replied that he did not believe
that it was a threat. Mr. Kostunica was a lawyer of constitutional law and
was very aware of the implications of international obligations as well
as the constitutional subtleties so the OTP had no doubt that Mr. Kostunica
would soon understand what it meant to comply with his international obligations.
whether, the fact that Mr. Milosevic for the first time had admitted funding
money and arms to parties in Bosnia and Croatia had any implications on
the indictment against him, Jean-Jacques Joris replied that the Prosecutor
had announced several times that the OTP had investigations going on the
implication of Milosevic in Bosnia and Croatia. These indictments should
be ready any time between the next few weeks or before the summer break.
Investigations which were the basis of an indictment were extremely in-depth
and thorough and the indictment must prove beyond all reasonable doubt the
responsibility of the indicted person. This was one element among others
to be considered, he concluded.
Bourgon added that this was a very important issue as the President was of
the opinion that the Tribunal could not ignore the fact that the FRY or the
Serb authorities may wish to lay charges against Milosevic. For the Tribunal
to consider these charges, however, they had to be different and fall outside
the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, but if the charges laid by the authorities
in Yugoslavia fell in any way within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, the
Tribunal had primacy jurisdiction over the national authorities. In such a
case it would make the transfer of Mr. Milosevic to the Tribunal that much
more important and that much more the issue in this case.
instruments within the Tribunal to cover a request for deferral, Stephane
Bourgon replied that Article 9 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence was
drafted widely and covered a variety of circumstances for which the Prosecutor
could ask the President to appoint a Chamber and address a request for deferral.
If the Prosecutor did make such a request then the President would be obliged
to appoint a Chamber which would look at the arguments brought forward by
both parties. In this respect it would be a judicial debate, and not a political
one. He added that it would be held in a chamber of the Tribunal and there
would be an assessment about exactly what the authorities of the FRY were
trying to do with respect to Mr. Milosevic, within the scope of Article
9. The Chamber may decide that the Tribunal had primacy and would then order
FRY to immediately transfer Mr. Milosevic to The Hague. He added that this
would not be very different to the current situation, only that it would
add more pressure. The Tribunal needed to understand what the authorities
in FRY planned in the end, to do, which was part of the mission of the Registrar
during his visit to Belgrade.
the Tribunal could enforce and ensure that FRY actually transferred Mr.
Milosevic, Jean-Jacques Joris replied that the Tribunal would use the same
means and procedures that had been used in the past. He added, that the
Prosecutor would be travelling to New York in May where she would appear
in front of the Security Council which will provide and excellent opportunity
in which to asses the cooperation with FRY.
the Prosecution line had changed in regards to the urgency of Milosevic
being transferred to the Hague, Jean Jacques Joris replied that the situation
had changed dramatically, with Milosevic in jail and that there were no
impediments to the Prosecution stating, once again, that the transfer of
Milosevic was non-negotiable and must occur immediately.
Bourgon added, that the Tribunal had never changed its position on the transfer
of Mr. Milosevic, however, since his arrest the Tribunal insisted on this
even more. He added, however, that the Tribunal could not ignore the fact
that FRY was trying to lay charges against him.