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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 1st Dec 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 1 December 1999

note that this is not a verbatim transcript of the Press Briefing. It is merely
a summary.

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 1 December 1999

Time: 11:30 p.m.


Jim Landale, Spokesman for Registry and Chambers, made the following announcements:

Firstly, we have
just this morning received copies of the amendments to the Rules of Procedure
and Evidence adopted at the last plenary. Twenty-eight amendments have been
made to existing rules and three new rules have been adopted.

We have not had
a chance to go through them yet and produce any kind of analysis or comparison
to the previous set of rules, however we do have copies for you to take away
with you after this.

We also now have
copies of the amended indictment for Dragan Nikolic. This was filed on 12 February
1999, and was subject to a non-disclosure order until 31 March 1999.

I would also like
to inform those of you who don’t already know that, on 29 November 1999,
Trial Chamber III ordered that the evidence of two witnesses in the Kordic and
Cerkez trial would be taken in deposition, pursuant to Rule 71 of the Rules
of Procedure and Evidence, due to the absence of Judge Robinson this week.

Also, yesterday,
Trial Chamber I issued a decision rejecting Vinko Martinovic’s appeal of
the Registrar’s decision to refuse him assignment of counsel. The Trial
Chamber noted, pursuant to Rule 45 e of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence
that, "If a request is refused, a further request may be made by a suspect
or an accused to the Registrar upon showing a change in circumstances."

This follows a
motion filed on 25 November by counsel for Martinovic, Branko Seric, informing
the Trial Chamber that he would be unable to continue to represent Martinovic
as long as he was not officially assigned as Martinovic’s defence counsel
by the Registrar.

Also yesterday,
30 November, Trial Chamber II received a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
on behalf of Radoslav Brdanin. The petition challenges the unlawfulness
of his detention and states, among other things, that "the materials
filed in support of the current indictment….do not provide a prima facie
case justifying his detention."
It requests that a Writ of Habeas
be issued without delay ordering:

-That the Petitioner
be brought speedily before the Trial Chamber for a hearing on the Writ of Habeas

-That the Prosecutor
be ordered to present to the Trial Chamber, in such hearing, the evidence in
its possession, if any, which supports a prima facie case against the Petitioner.

As you will recall,
Brdanin was arrested by SFOR on 6 July 1999 and has been charged on the basis
of his individual and superior criminal responsibility for ‘persecutions
on political, racial or religious grounds, a crime against humanity’. In
his position as President of the "Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK)"
Crisis Staff he is alleged to be responsible, in concert with others, for the
major ethnic cleansing operations conducted in the Sanski Most and Prijedor
regions in 1992.

Finally, hearings
in the Kordic and Cerkez case that were due to take place this afternoon have
been cancelled. Instead, the Simic Rule 77 contempt of court hearings will continue
in courtroom III.



Graham Blewitt, Deputy the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) made the following announcements:

The Prosecutor
has remained in Arusha awaiting resolution of the visa issue. The Prosecutor
had some optimism that the visa would be granted by the Rwandan Government and
for that reason she remained in the area in order to move on to Kigali at the
first possible opportunity. In the mean-time she was having a very useful visit
with her staff in Arusha. She had also made a number of appearances before the
Chambers there, he said.

On the subject
of Mladen Naletilic ‘Tuta’, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) yesterday
received the latest medical report which indicated that Tuta would undergo surgery
next week due to increased pain and more frequent attacks. ‘Tuta’
had agreed to undergo this treatment, he said, adding that he understood this
treatment to be one identified some weeks ago as being necessary in order for
him to be fit to travel to The Hague. This was seen by the OTP as a positive
development, leading to a situation where ‘Tuta’ was likely to be
surrendered to the Tribunal in the near future, he said.



Asked whether
the OTP was happy with the findings of ‘Tuta’s’ doctors, or
whether they planned to send a further independent medical team to Croatia,
Blewitt replied that the OTP was happy with its findings. As he understood
the situation, the medical team from Holland had previously identified that
the particular procedure to be undertaken was necessary before ‘Tuta’
would be fit to travel. He added that the new report was therefore confirmation
of what the Dutch medical team had said.

Asked for an
expected time scale for ‘Tuta’s’ possible transfer to The Hague,
Blewitt replied that currently ‘Tuta’ was unable to fly. He added
that, although all possible means of travel had not been explored, road options
were more complicated and the preference of the Tribunal would be that he
be transferred by a medical flight, which was dangerous at the moment because
of his heart condition. This treatment should resolve the situation. The Tribunal
would wait until it was completed and allow some time for his recovery. His
health would then be assessed and if the Tribunal was not satisfied with the
opinion of the Croatian doctors, the OTP would recommend that the Registrar
send another medical team, he concluded.

Asked what
amendments had been made to the Nikolic indictment, Blewitt said that some
sexual assault charges had been incorporated. He added that copies would be
made available.

Landale added
that the amended indictment would be made available after the briefing, along
with a brief summary of the changes for journalists.

Asked what
was to be expected from the OPT now, due to the suspension of investigations
in Kosovo for this year, Blewitt replied that as far as the Kosovo investigations
were concerned, the forensic aspect had ceased for this year. However, the
OTP was currently making plans for the continuation of the work next year.

Blewitt added
that at this stage, only two of the countries that had provided the forensic
support this year had delivered their reports of the evidence collected to
the OTP. The teams prepared a complete package of information, comprised of
a report of their undertakings along with all photographic evidence, which,
once completed, would be given to the OTP.

The remainder
of the reports were expected in the coming weeks. When they were received
the OTP would start to assess them in connection with an amended indictment.
Until the reports were entered it was not proper to make final determinations,
he said.

Asked about
the visit to the Tribunal by survivors of Srebrenica yesterday and their request
that the Tribunal try the UN and Dutchbat commanders for complicity in Genocide,
Blewitt replied that he had met with the representatives from Srebrenica yesterday,
hosted by the Dutch non-governmental organisation (NGO) IKV. He added that
they were informed that, as far as the assessment of the available evidence
was concerned, there was no evidence to implicate any members of the Dutchbat
in crimes over which the Tribunal had jurisdiction. They agreed that if the
group wished to submit additional evidence or material it would be accepted
and analyzed in that context.

Asked whether
the visitors had mentioned evidence of bodies found outside a Dutchbat compound
in the enclave and which were brought to the attention of the Dutch soldiers,
Blewitt replied that it had not been discussed.

Asked to reaffirm
what he meant by no evidence of Dutchbat committing crimes under the jurisdiction
of the Tribunal and what was needed to assess this, Blewitt said that it was
too complicated to comment upon in the briefing.

Asked to comment
upon the complaints of unfairness by the Tribunal concerning allegations of
complicity, Blewitt replied that the problem came when moral and political
responsibility was equated with criminal responsibility. The Tribunal did
not judge the morals or the politics of the world. It was not a question of
who these people were, whether Dutchbat, Serb, Muslims, if a crime over which
the Tribunal had jurisdiction was committed, there was no immunity to the
individual. The question was not that there was no evidence implicating any
one for those offences, it was whether there was enough to establish guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt, he added.

Asked whether
there would be any public indictments in the near future and whether the Tribunal
would look into the case of the five individuals recently arrested in Belgrade,
Blewitt replied that there would be further public indictments. The OTP was
working on investigations that were drawing to a close. Once satisfied with
the evidence, both public and sealed indictments would be issued.

In relation
to the five people arrested in Belgrade, the OTP was not taking any immediate
steps to intervene, Blewitt said. Some of the people detained were known to
the Tribunal, but at this stage no decision to intervene had been made. Continued
assessment of the situation would be made as it developed, he added.

Asked about
the optimism of the Prosecutor in connection with her visa to enter Rwanda,
Blewitt responded that she was confident due to the representations being
made on her behalf by the Secretary-General and others. Questions on this
issue should be referred to the ICTR press office. The Prosecutor’s presence
in Arusha indicated that she expected a response sooner that later.

Asked for an
update on the suspended investigations in Croatia and for an opinion concerning
the changes that might occur in Croatia, if and when President Tudjman died,
Blewitt replied that, as far as the suspended investigation was concerned,
it was in fact fortunate that they had not yet started as within days the
area had been covered in snow. It would be continued when the weather permitted,
he added.

Concerning President
Tudjman's health, Blewitt replied that if and when he did die it would likely
result in some change. He added that in terms of Croatia’s cooperation,
it could herald a change for the better if Croatia would fully cooperate with
the Tribunal complying with its legal obligations.