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Address by Carla Del Ponte, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to the Security Council 13 June 2005

Press Release . Communiqué de presse

(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)


The Hague, 13 June 2005


13 JUNE 2005

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour to be here again to provide an assessment on the progress made in the implementation of the completion strategy. A written assessment was distributed already, and I intend to concentrate now on the major issues. Significant progress can be reported on the key components of the completion strategy. All investigations were completed, and the last indictments
issued, by the end of 2004. However, you should know that many victim groups as well as representatives of the civil society simply do not understand how investigations can be closed at this stage. I receive many letters from victims and NGO reports, arguing that there are many more individuals who should be indicted and expressing concern about the capacity of the domestic
jurisdictions to render justice fairly and effectively. While there is no going back and we are fully committed to the completion strategy, I simply want to underline to the Council the importance of supporting the national jurisdictions and following their work closely to ensure that justice is indeed done.

There were a number of positive developments since my last report. No less than twenty accused were surrendered since November, including ten who had been fugitives for an extended period of time. The Prosecution has continued to file motions under Rule 11bis for referring indicted cases involving mid- and lower-level perpetrators to domestic judiciaries. Motions were also filed
proposing the joining of cases with the same crime base so as to avoid repeating trials with similar evidence and witnesses. Last but not least, the lifting of the recruitment freeze has allowed my office to hire the staff necessary for an efficient preparation and conduct of the remaining trials and appeals.

Unfortunately, these positive developments are overshadowed by the continuing failure of the relevant authorities to arrest and transfer ten fugitives, including those mentioned several times by the Security Council in resolutions taken under Chapter VII of the Charter. As long as Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Ante Gotovina manage to escape justice and defy the international
community, the work of this Tribunal will remain unfinished.

Ten days ago, I visited Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo to discuss co-operation with the relevant authorities. In Sarajevo, I met also families of victims of the Srebrenica genocide. Despite all the progress made, it is obvious that the great expectations placed by the victims in the international community and in the ICTY have not been met and will not be realized until Karadzic and
Mladic are in The Hague. In less than a month, ten years will have passed since Srebrenica happened. There will be commemorations, in Srebrenica itself, and elsewhere. All those attending will wonder: why are the individuals primarily responsible for the genocide still at large, ten years after the fact and ten years after they were indicted? As a sign of protest, I have thus decided
not to participate in any commemoration of the genocide unless Karadzic and Mladic are arrested.

There has been a major change in the attitude of the Serbian authorities. Access to documents, including military files, and witnesses, is continuously improving. However, this process remains very slow and cumbersome. Most importantly, following my last address to the Council, Serbia has finally started to transfer fugitives and newly indicted persons. Since December 2004, the
Serbian Government, alone or with the assistance of the Minister of Interior of Republika Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina, has transferred 14 accused, including half a dozen who are indicted for Srebrenica. Another seven fugitives are within reach of the Serbian authorities, alone or in cooperation with Montenegro and Republika Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina: Karadzic,
Mladic, Tolimir, Hadzic, Milan and Sredoje Lukic, and Zupljanin. Karadzic, Mladic and Tolimir are the three accused most responsible for Srebrenica. Prime Minister Kostunica gave me assurances that his government will deliver on these remaining fugitives, and I expect him to fulfil his commitment. However, as I understand he is not willing to carry out arrest operations. Since 25
April, when Nebojsa Pavkovic was transferred to The Hague, there have been no further transfers. This seems to indicate that the policy of voluntary surrenders preferred by the Serbian authorities has reached its limits.

It is essential that the authorities in Podgorica and Banja Luka co-operate more closely with Belgrade and also with NATO and EUFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the most promising way to locate Radovan Karadzic. Also, the political support of the international community remains of paramount importance. It is encouraging that in Brussels and Sarajevo, I was assured by NATO and
EUFOR commanders of their full commitment in respect to this issue.

All my information continues to show that two fugitives, Vlastimir Djordjevic and Dragan Zelenovic, are in Russia. I have passed the relevant information on these two fugitives to the Russian authorities and have expressed my readiness to travel to Moscow to further discuss the matter with the Russian authorities. On 7 June, I received a reply from them informing me that the
competent authorities continue to conduct their investigative actions with regard to the persons accused by the ICTY, including Mr. Djordjevic and Mr. Zelenovic. The Russian authorities are confident that the persons, who have committed grave crimes to be tried at the ICTY should be subject of search and prosecution. The Russian authorities also expressed their readiness to further
render their assistance to the Tribunal in the investigation and prosecution of the indicted persons.

I remain concerned that the Croatian authorities have not fulfilled their obligation to locate, arrest and transfer Ante Gotovina. In the first part of this year, the efforts made by the authorities were neither pro-active, nor focused, and several incidents occurred where sensitive information was manipulated so as to obstruct the investigation against Gotovina and his protective
networks. There were also media campaigns, sometimes based on confidential documents leaked to the media, that tried to discredit the Tribunal or our partners in Zagreb. This indicates that Gotovina can still count on active support networks, including within the State institutions.

In April, Croatia presented an Action Plan aimed specifically at locating Gotovina. It is my assessment that further serious progress in the implementation of the plan should lead to Gotovina. Prime Minister Sanader assured me of his strong personal commitment in this regard. A few more months will however be needed to determine whether the Croatian authorities are, this time,
indeed doing their utmost to arrest and transfer Gotovina. Until Gotovina is in The Hague, or until Croatia is providing the precise whereabouts of this fugitive, it is impossible to say, however, that Croatia is fully co-operating with the ICTY.

The transfer to The Hague of the ten remaining fugitives is the most serious obstacle to the completion strategy. It creates uncertainties that are hampering a proper planning of the trials. It may oblige the Court to conduct several trials where a joined trial would have been possible. For instance, Djordjevic could be joined with the six other indictees accused of crimes
committed in Kosovo by Serbian forces. Tolimir could be joined with eight other indictees accused of the Srebrenica genocide. Karadzic and Mladic, should they be transferred in the same time period, could be tried together.

Joining cases is a method my office is intending to use whenever possible so as to save court time while preserving all guarantees of due process. Joining cases is clearly more efficient, since the same crime base does not have to be proven repeatedly, and therefore the same witnesses will need to come to The Hague only once. Three motions for joinder were presented so far. A few
others are under consideration. This is one of the areas where my office has put an emphasis so as to do the maximum to implement the second phase of the completion strategy.

Another major development in this context is the referral of cases to domestic jurisdictions. My office has continued to help build credible domestic jurisdictions by contributing its expertise to training judges and prosecutors. Furthermore, we have participated in significant efforts made to improve judicial co-operation between the prosecutors of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
and Serbia and Montenegro. Last week, we took part in a meeting held in Brijuni, Croatia, aimed at reaching agreements regarding the transfer of proceedings between the countries of the former Yugoslavia. The objective is to ensure that these countries’ legal impediments to the extradition of nationals do not lead to impunity.

As a result of these combined efforts, capacities have been developed throughout the region to take over mid- and lower-cases that, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1503 and 1534, cannot be tried in The Hague. Moreover, in response to my request, the OSCE decided on 19 May to co-operate with my Office in the monitoring of cases transferred to the region. These
positive developments have allowed my office to further implement its policy of submitting Rule 11bis motions to the Chambers for the referral of such cases to local jurisdictions. Four additional motions were filed since I last reported. All in all, ten such motions have been filed so far, concerning 18 accused.

Very recently, I decided to withdraw one of these motions concerning three persons accused for crimes committed in Vukovar. This case had drawn the attention of the international community long ago, since it was the object of Security Council resolution 1207 back in 1998. During my recent trip to the region, I became convinced that the so-called "Vukovar Three" case is extremely
sensitive, and any decision by the Chambers to transfer it would provoke deep resentment in one or the other country considered for the transfer, Serbia and Montenegro or Croatia. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that a transfer either to Belgrade or to Zagreb would not be in the interest of justice. In view of these new developments, the best option is to try the "Vukovar Three"
in The Hague.

The Chambers took their first decision on a Rule 11bis motion on 17 May, whereby they granted the prosecution motion to transfer the Stankovic case to Bosnia and Herzegovina. My Office is still considering the transfer of a few additional cases.

Mr. President,

By completing all its investigations by the end of 2004, my Office has demonstrated its commitment to the completion strategy. We have also immediately drawn the necessary consequences in terms of resources. More than a third of the posts in the investigation division were abolished. Redeployments from the investigation division to the prosecution division are proposed in the
context of the 2006-2007 budget, so as to keep within the investigation division only those staff members necessary for the support of trials, and for the transfer of cases to the domestic jurisdictions. These movements of personnel will also allow us to cope with a heavier workload in the prosecution division and in the appeals section. Our attention is now fully focused on the
conduct of efficient trial and appellate proceedings.

While these internal measures increase the chances that the completion strategy is successful, we have seen in the past months dramatic improvements in the external conditions impacting heavily on the completion strategy. Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia and Republika Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina are not yet co-operating fully with the ICTY. However, all of them have shown
considerable progress in their co-operation. Prime Minister Sanader in Zagreb, Prime Minister Kostunica and Minister Ljajic in Belgrade, as well as Minister Matjasevic in Banja Luka have demonstrated a genuine commitment to solve all remaining issues in their co-operation with the Tribunal. There is now a momentum that has to be used so as to bring the remaining fugitives to justice.
The international community must play its part in this process to ensure the success of international criminal justice. NATO and EUFOR’s assets will be invaluable in bringing Karadzic and others to justice. The European Union’s power of attraction remains a key political motivation for the countries of the former Yugoslavia, and this should remain so. The Security Council must keep a
constant attention to our work.

In mid-July, it will be ten years since over 7900 Muslim men and boys were summarily executed in what has been recognised by the ICTY as a genocide. A few weeks later, it will be ten years since the two main authors of this genocide, Karadzic and Mladic, have been at large. This situation cannot be tolerated any longer. Now is the moment to end impunity. There is momentum now. We
must build on it.