13 September 2012, Podgorica
Around 25 judges, professors, students and journalists attended a lecture given today by the ICTY’s Ljiljana Hellman at the Law Faculty of the University of Montenegro in Podgorica.
Following the lecture, the audience were eager to engage with Ljiljana and there were numerous questions. The legal professionals were keen to learn more about how trials before the Tribunal compare to those in their own courts. Many questions – apparently inspired by media coverage of the trial of Vojislav Šešelj - related to the rights of accused persons.
One student suggested that the Tribunal was biased against certain groups, saying that the ICTY “is subjective in its work and that most indictments were raised based on emotional and irrational statements and not rooted in any real evidence.”
This question sparked a lively discussion about the Tribunal’s indictment procedures and policies, and Ljiljana explained that indictments were only raised if a bench of judges decided there was sufficient evidence suggesting that the person in question had been involved in crimes covered by the Tribunal’s statute.
The discussion then moved to the way in which the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence had been refined over the years by the ICTY’s judges. One judge asked if witnesses could be tried if it was found out that they provided false testimony, and Ljiljana gave a detailed account of the Contempt of Tribunal procedures, using the recent case of Zuhdija Tabaković to provide concrete examples.
Sentencing policy was also discussed at length, with the regional judges curious to know what factors were taken into account by Tribunal judges when sentence length was being considered.