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"False identifications"

Press Release PROSECUTOR

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

The Hague, 24 July 1998

"False identifications"

The Prosecutor wishes to use the occasion of the recent arrest of the two individuals who had not been indicted by this Tribunal, to issue a reminder to the Governments of Republika Srpska and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of their obligations to co-operate with the Tribunal and in particular their obligations to arrest and surrender persons who have been indicted by the Tribunal.

The primary obligation to arrest and surrender indicted accused rests with those States to whom the arrest warrants are addressed. It is only in the face of the refusal of such States to comply with their legal obligations that it is necessary for the Prosecutor to resort to other measures, including the issue of arrest warrants under sealed indictments.

Following certain comments which are being made concerning the recent arrest by SFOR of two persons who had not been indicted by this Tribunal, the Prosecutor wishes to point out that several of the accused who have been arrested by SFOR this year, have had in their possession when arrested, false official identity papers, including photographs, issued by various Republika Srpska authorities. This demonstrates that not only is Republika Srpska avoiding its legal obligations, including those under the Dayton Peace Agreement, but has also been engaged in deliberately frustrating the Tribunal's work by issuing false identification papers to those persons indicted by the Tribunal in an attempt to shield them from the Tribunal's jurisdiction.

This highlights the problem facing the Tribunal and SFOR when it comes to the identification and arrest of indicted accused. It is possible that other incidents of mistaken identity will occur, particularly while ever Republika Srpska continues to supply indicted accused with false identification papers. The Prosecutor calls upon the Government of Republika Srpska to desist immediately in this practice and to co-operate with the Tribunal in the proper identification and location of all persons who have been indicted by the Tribunal.

In the case of the two persons detained by SFOR on 22 July, the Tribunal was able to quickly resolve the identification issue in a matter of hours but this was done without the assistance of Republika Srpska. The Prosecutor is very grateful for the assistance provided by SFOR following the confirmation of the identities of the two persons. At short notice SFOR was able to provide transportation and the two persons were returned to their homes on 23 July.

Finally, the Prosecutor again wishes to express her gratitude for the very valuable support being extended to the Tribunal by SFOR in the detention and surrender of indicted accused. In particular, the Prosecutor wishes to express her appreciation to the British Government for their continuing role in the detention of indicted accused and would hope that the events of the past few days will not deter them from bringing other indicted accused to The Hague in the near future.



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