(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
Communication from the Prosecutor to the Contact Group Members.
On the eve of the meeting of the Contact Group in Bonn, the Prosecutor of the ICTY, Justice Louise Arbour, has communicated to the members of the Contact Group her position on the following issues:
The Prosecutor has previously indicated that she has jurisdiction to investigate the recent events in Kosovo and to prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law. The Prosecutor believes that the nature and scale of the fighting indicate that an "armed conflict", within the meaning of international law, exists in Kosovo. As a consequence, she intends to bring charges for crimes against humanity or war crimes, if evidence of such crimes is established.
The Prosecutor wishes to stress that the Tribunal’s jurisdiction also includes crimes committed by persons on either side of the conflict. International law imposes obligations on combatants involved in an armed conflict to observe the laws of war, and any violations of such laws can be punished. Criminal responsibility also attaches not only to those who themselves actually commit atrocities, but equally to those in positions of superior responsibility. Under international law, a superior will be held criminally liable if he knew or had reason to know that a subordinate was about to commit criminal acts, or had done so and the superior failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators.
Additional resources have been made available to the Office of the Prosecutor in relation to Kosovo, and investigations are likely to continue for a considerable time.
In light of the unfortunate decease of Slavko Dokmanovic, the Prosecutor considers that it is now all the more important to bring to justice Mile Mrksic, Miroslav Radic, and Veselin Sljivancanin, the three former JNA officers who remain at large in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and also indicted for crimes committed in connection with Vukovar Hospital. The Prosecutor wishes it to be clearly understood that the charges against these three men are unaffected by the end of the proceedings against Slavko Dokmanovic.
The Prosecutor therefore continues to call upon the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to meet their obligations under international law to secure the prompt surrender of the three accused to The Hague. She renews her invitation, made to the FRY authorities during her last visit to Belgrade, that they also support her direct appeal to the accused that they surrender themselves voluntarily to the Tribunal’s custody.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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