Legacy website of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Since the ICTY’s closure on 31 December 2017, the Mechanism maintains this website as part of its mission to preserve and promote the legacy of the UN International Criminal Tribunals.

 Visit the Mechanism's website.

ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 1st Jan 0001

ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 22 January 2003

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 5.03.2003

Time: 11:30


Christian Chartier,
Head of Public Information Services, made the following statement:

The Judgement
in the case The Prosecutor v. Naletelic and Martinovic will be rendered
on Monday 24 March at 2 p.m. in Courtroom III

I would like to
draw your attention to a number of other important scheduling orders issued
by Chambers over the past few days:

Tomorrow, Thursday
6 March, at 9 a.m., a further initial appearance hearing will be held in the
case The Prosecutor v. Radovan Stankovic. During this hearing, the
accused will be asked to enter a plea on the new charges laid against him
in the second amended Indictment, filed by the Prosecution in November 2002
and accepted by Trial Chamber I (Judge Liu, Presiding, Judge El Mahdi and
Judge Orie) on 28 February 2003. Hard copies in English and BCS will be made
available after the briefing. The Indictment can also be found on the ICTY
website in English.

On Tuesday
25 March, at 2.30 p.m., Trial Chamber III (Judge May presiding, Judge Robinson
and Judge Kwon) will hold a hearing on the Motions for provisional release
filed by Dragoljub Ojdanic and Nikola Sainovic on 10 February 2003, and by
Milan Milutinovic on 23 January 2003. The Motions filed by Ojdanic and Sainovic
are public documents. Milutinovic filed his Motion confidentially. It remains
confidential for the time being.

Also, Judge
Schomburg has ordered that Vojislav Seselj make a further appearance, on Tuesday
25 March, at 4.30 p.m. This follows the initial appearance hearing of 26 February,
during which the Accused "declined to enter a plea and stated that
he would enter a plea within thirty days",
pursuant to Rule 62(iii).

With regard
to developments related to on-going proceedings:

I would like
to remind you that the Initial Appearance of Fatmir Limaj will take place
at 3.30 p.m. this afternoon before Judge Liu. All proceedings in the case
against Limaj et al. as well as other cases relevant to Kosovo will be available
in four languages. All four languages will also be carried on the web cast.
A Defence lawyer has been appointed to Mr. Limaj to represent him during the
initial appearance today. His name is Mr. Karim Kahn, attorney at Law from
the UK. This appointment was made at the request of the accused.

The trials
continue as scheduled in the Galic, Simic et al, Brjdanin and Stakic cases
(with extended court hours today and tomorrow in the latter case).

As scheduled,
the Milosevic trial has adjourned until Monday of next week. It will resume
on Monday morning and there will also be an afternoon session, starting at
3 p.m., to hear the Prosecution’s application for an Order directing Serbia
and Montenegro to comply with outstanding requests for assistance. In view
of this hearing, the Prosecution replied last week to the response by Serbia
and Montenegro. This document will be among those available to you after the

Among the Orders
issued by the Chambers since the last briefing, I would like to bring the following
to your attention:

On 26 February,
Trial Chamber I (Judge Liu, presiding, Judge El Mahdi and Judge Orie) granted
the request by the Defence for Stanislav Galic for certification to appeal
against Judge Liu’s Decision not to withdraw Judge Orie from the case.

On 27 February,
in the case The Prosecutor v. Slobodan Milosevic, Trial Chamber III
(Judge May, presiding Judge Robinson and Judge Kwon) issued an Order concerning
the release of closed-session testimony of the witness Jovan Dulovic.
This witness testified in October 2002; his testimony was partially in closed-session;
but following a Prosecution Motion based on a letter by the witness, the Registry
has been ordered to release the testimony which was given in closed session.

Turning to
recent filings by Parties, I would like to mention the following:

On 26 February,
the Defence for Milan Martic filed a Motion against the amended Indictment.

On 28 February,
the Defence for General Ojdanic filed an Appeal against the Trial Chamber’s
denial of its Motion to dismiss the Indictment for lack of jurisdiction on
persons accused of being involved in a joint criminal enterprise.
On Monday 3
March, in the case The Prosecutor v. Slobodan Milosevic, the Prosecution
filed a Motion requesting protective measures for witness Peter Galbraith.
Two filings
in the case The Prosecutor v. Vojislav Seselj:
On 28 February,
the Prosecution filed a Motion for an Order appointing counsel to assist the
accused with his defence
On 4 March,
the accused filed a "petition" explaining why he refused to receive
several documents in English and requesting that all trial and appeals Judgements
rendered to date by the ICTY be made available to him.

Finally, two
interesting developments:

The Tribunal
was very pleased to participate in a seminar in Skopje, Macedonia on 28 February
and 1 March 2003. The seminar was organised and funded by the US Department
of Justice, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training.
It was supported by the ICTY Outreach Programme. This two-day event was attended
by over 50 senior Macedonian Judges and Prosecutors. It was an extremely useful
opportunity for representatives of the Tribunal to share information and experience
with Macedonian legal professionals.

Finally, following
a request made by a member of the media, I am pleased to inform you that the
ICTR Unit established in this building will be glad to be a contact point
for any media requests for ICTR documents. Their extension number is 8225.

Office of
the Prosecutor:

Florence Hartmann,
Spokeswoman for the Office of the Prosecutor, made the following statement:

Carla Del Ponte will visit Brussels tomorrow, where she will
meet with Javier Solana at 12 p.m. and with Chris Patten, the European Commissioner
at 3.00 p.m..


Asked whether a complete BCS compilation existed of all Indictments
and trial and appeals Judgements rendered to date by the Tribunal, Chartier
replied that as a matter of policy, although BCS was not an official working
language, Indictments and Judgements, be they by a Trial Chamber or the Appeals
Chamber, were automatically and systematically translated into BCS. Whatever
had been translated to date was available to everybody, either in hard copy
or on the Tribunal’s website, which contained pages in French, English, BCS
and since recently a page in Albanian. This excluded the most recently rendered
Judgements, such as the Plavsic Judgement from last week, which was currently
being translated into English and BCS.

He added that this was not only the policy of the Tribunal,
but a legal requirement. Any time period mentioned in the Rules of Procedure
and Evidence started running from the day that the accused person had received
a translation of the Judgement in a language that he or she understood.

Asked whether, legally, an accused had the right to receive
filings in their own language, or only in a language that they understood, Chartier
replied that they had the right to receive filings in a language they understood.

Asked at what stage the Tribunal would draw a line concerning
the complaint from Seselj about the language in which he received documents,
Chartier replied that the accused’s petition was being considered by Judge Schomburg
who would give his Decision in due course.

He then indicated that the Tribunal’s long standing understanding
was that anyone coming from the former Yugoslavia was able to understand all
languages used there. This policy went back to the early years of the Tribunal,
following a situation in October 1996, when certain accused from Croatia claimed
in court that they were unable to understand court documents that were not in
Croatian. Chartier went on to say that the Tribunal had experts look into the
matter and their conclusion, which was endorsed by the Tribunal, was that "BCS"
could be understood by anyone coming from the region.

Finally he reminded the media that there was a precedent set
in the Milosevic case where the accused was also defending himself. A systematic
translation of all documents in a language understood by the accused had been
ordered by the Trial Chamber. However, Judge Schomburg was not bound by this
Order, he concluded.

Asked for more information concerning the Prosecutor’s visit
to Brussels, Hartmann replied that it was a visit related to issues of cooperation.
She added that she would update the media tomorrow following the meetings.

Asked for an update on when Plavsic would appear as a witness
in the Stakic case, Chartier replied that he was not aware of any Scheduling
Order relating to Plavsic being issued by Judge Schomburg.

Asked whether the Prosecution still insisted that they had
some evidence against Agim Murtezi, (although it was not enough to proceed to
trial) or whether the OTP admitted that it had made a mistake in indicting him
and if so, would the Prosecutor apologise to him as he requested, Hartmann replied
that the Indictment was withdrawn against Murtezi. She added that she could
not comment on this question until the Prosecutor had received the final Decision
from the Trial Chamber related to the issue of ‘with prejudice’ or ‘without
prejudice’. She added that the OTP was still conducting inquires to find out
the correct identity of the person nicknamed Murrizi.

Asked whether the Indictment had already been amended or would
the same Indictment, including Murtezi’s name be read out at the initial appearance
of Fatimir Limaj this afternoon, Chartier replied that regardless of whether
the Prosecution had already amended the Indictment, (they were given seven days
to do so by Judge Liu last week), if the Indictment was read out in full in
court this afternoon, which could be requested by the accused or his defence
lawyer, the name of a person who was no longer accused would not be read out.
Whatever reading would take place this afternoon, the name of anyone released
by the Tribunal, with the apologies of the Tribunal, would not be mentioned,
he concluded.

A journalist stated that the Murtezi issue was damaging for
the credibility of the OTP. Asked what procedure would be carried out by the
OTP to investigate this issue, Hartmann replied that the OTP stated during lasts
week’s hearing that a mistake of identity had been made. She added, however,
that this meant that there was still a man at large bearing the nickname Murrizi
who had been recognised by various witnesses and who, on the basis of evidence,
had allegedly committed the crimes described in the Indictment.

She added that the mistake was made between linking the nickname
to the person. The person wanted by the OTP was not Murtezi and this was why
he was released. The OTP filed their Motion urgently once it found out that
the person in court was not the person it was looking for. She concluded that
the OTP had evidence of crimes committed by a person with the nickname Murrizi
and that it would continue to look for this person.

A journalist stated that the profile of the accused in the
‘Kosovo Indictment’ would not have made them subject to investigation if they
had been from Bosnia, Croatia or Serbia. He added that these people were camp
guards and that the Tribunal had recently embarked on a completion strategy
focusing only on higher ranking accused. Asked to explain their Indictment,
Hartmann replied that she did not believe that these indictees were low level.
She added that the Prosecution had a case involving different levels of people
including Limaj who was a camp commander. The Indictment concerned crimes which
were a grave breach of international humanitarian law and the OTP believed that
it was important to bring this case before the Tribunal. This was not an easy
investigation. The OTP was conducting further investigations into alleged KLA
suspects. The OTP did not believe that this Indictment did not fit in with the
completion strategy of the Tribunal, she concluded.

Chartier added that in addition to what Florence had just said
about Prosecution policy, he would caution against the use of the terms small,
medium or big fish. The Tribunal dealt with serious breaches of international
law, so regardless of the alleged level of any accused in a particular hierarchy,
that in itself makes these crimes serious. It had to be borne in mind whenever
discussing small, medium or big fish, that in the past there were people who
were quickly qualified as small fish, but if the charges and the Judgement were
looked at, or had been prosecuted by a national prosecutor in their own country,
these very accused classed as small fish would have gone down in history as
‘criminals of the century’ in certain contexts. It was a very difficult issue
and some caution on the use of this qualification was necessary, he concluded.

The journalist said that he had asked the question following
an interview he had with President Jorda in which he alleged that the President
stated that the public could understand if a high level perpetrator was on trial
for years but not if a camp guard was on trial for years, these were two camp
guards, Chartier replied that this did not mean that this did not comply with
the completion strategy of the ICTY.

Asked what the criteria was for deciding what was and was not
a high profile case, Chartier replied that there was another element to think
about, which was the context in which specific events occurred: when approaching
the question of definition of levels, the overall context in which the events
described in the Indictment occurred had to be kept in mind.

Asked why the Prosecutor had withdrawn its appeal against the
Trial Chamber Decision not to pursue contempt proceedings against witness K12
in the Milosevic case, Hartmann replied that she would look into this question.

Asked for a time line concerning when Plavsic would be sent
to serve her sentence, Chartier replied that he could not give one due to the
fact that the Judgement was rendered on Thursday and from that day all parties
had 30 days in which to file an appeal against the sentence. Nothing would happen
with regards to the enforcement of the sentence before the appeal time period
was over, he concluded.

Asked whether Plavsic would be sent to serve her sentence within
one two or three months, Chartier replied that he could not say at this time.
He reiterated that on the basis of the Rules, whenever a Judgement had been
rendered, it opened a specific period of time of 30 days for parties to file
an appeal if they wished to do so. This basically meant that no Decision to
enforce the sentence could be made before a sentence had become definitive.
If an appeal was lodged there would be a need for further proceedings. The Appeals
Chamber would then have to consider the request by either party.

Asked, in light of Carla Del Ponte’s visit to Brussels tomorrow,
what the Prosecutor’s view was on cooperation received from Serbia and Montenegro,
Hartmann replied that she would prefer the Prosecutor to answer any questions
concerning her visit after the meetings had taken place tomorrow. The media
knew that the OTP had complained about the slow, selective and far from full
cooperation which it was entitled to expect. The discussions tomorrow would
relate to those issues. The modalities for potential pressure were up to the
states and were not something that the OTP would discuss, she concluded.

Asked whether, in light of the fact that Jelesic still remained
at the Detention Unit two years after his final sentencing, there was a time
limit as to how long an accused could remain at the UN Detention Unit following
the Appeals Chambers definitive Judgement, Chartier replied that the Press Release
issued last Friday concerning the early release granted to Dosen contained a
list of 10 accused who were serving their sentences. There was also a explicit
mention of two accused who’s sentences had become definitive but who still remained
at the Detention Unit, namely Goran Jelesic and Milan Simic.

With regards to Jelesic who was convicted in July 2001 by the
Appeals Chamber, a long period of time had passed during which at least two
things happened. Firstly, something which was a confidential procedure at the
beginning, the accused filed a request for revision. The request for revision
was rejected, at which time it became public. At the same time the Tribunal’s
Registry had undertaken to discuss transferring Jelesic to a foreign country
to serve sentence. To date with no clear success. One element that made this
case complicated was the length of the sentence imposed on the accused. In a
number of countries with which the Tribunal had agreements, 40 years was considered
as an extremely lengthy sentence that could not be enforced within their domestic
legislation. The enforcement of sentences imposed by the Tribunal was a legal
construction whereby any convicted person transferred to a foreign country would
serve a sentence imposed by an international court under conditions imposed
by the domestic legislation. This made certain situations difficult, this was
the case with Jelesic, he said.

He went on to say that, two or three weeks ago there were press
reports to the effect that the Italian supreme court had reduced the sentence
of Jelesic to 30 years, Chartier added that he denied this story at the time.
He added that Italy was one of the countries with which the Tribunal was discussing
the transfer of Jelesic. The Tribunal was still in discussion, he could not
say with which countries. This was a case that had not been left unattended
by the Registry. With regards to Simic, the same applied.

Asked whether there was a time limit, Chartier replied that
there was not. This example of Jelesic was extreme, he had been at the Detention
Unit a long time. He added that he had already explained the difficulties the
Tribunal faced in the previous question. The period of time between the sentence
becoming definitive and the actual transfer of an accused had not been that
lengthy on average, it was a number of months, not more. It should not be forgotten
that transferring a convicted person was not a matter of the Tribunal deciding
over night where an accused would go. There was a procedure to follow. Files
had to be forwarded to a number of states, they had to look into it and to agree
or not. It was not an administrative procedure, it was a procedure with a number
of important legal consequences for the host states, which had to be discussed
at the highest possible level, he concluded.

A journalist stated that this caused serious problems for the
Tribunal as some accused could face even longer sentences. Asked what the Tribunal
would do with accused who were given life sentences, Chartier replied that the
Tribunal would decide on a case by case basis. It should not be forgotten that
the Tribunal was still discussing enforcement sentences with a number of countries.
The list now comprised nine but others could offer additional possibilities.

Asked whether a mechanism was set in place for cases such as
Dosen’s early release for when the Tribunal closed, Chartier replied that this
question was a bit hasty. The completion strategy set fourth a number of objectives,
one of them being that the completion of proceedings would take place around
2010. This meant around seven or eight more years from now. This problem was
not urgent, but it was clear that when the time came for the Tribunal to complete
its mandate and to close down, there would be a number of practical or legal
arrangements to be made. The one mentioned was definitely important as all of
the agreements on enforcement of sentences explicitly mentioned that no measure
could be taken which could effect the length of the sentence without the approval
of the President of the Tribunal. If there was no Tribunal there would be no
President. One could also think what would happen to the audio visual archive
of the Tribunal, what would happen to the Prosecution materials or to the Tribunal
archives. Obviously when the time came to seriously look into the consequences
of terminating the work of the Tribunal, Chartier added that he was confident
that arrangements would be made and that required transfer of competencies would
be discussed and given to appropriate authorities.

Following the submissions made by the authorities of Serbia
and Montenegro, a journalist asked whether the Prosecution still sought full
access to archives and whether the Prosecution would respond soon to those submissions.
Hartmann replied that they already had. She added that the OTP had never asked
for full access to archives in Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia or anywhere else.
There would be a hearing on 10 March, the Prosecution had a reply to the submission
by the Serbia and Montenegro officials, but she would not speak about something
that would be discussed in court until after the hearing had taken place.

She reiterated that the OTP had never asked for full access
to archives. If the OTP knew exactly what it wanted it was very easy to describe
the document. In some cases the OTP knew about the contents of a document but
not what it looked like. The OTP would sometimes ask for access to the Registry
of the archives in order to know how they were kept and to enable them to be
more precise with their requests. The OTP required answers to their requests
for assistance. If an OTP request was not well enough formulated then the OTP
would like a quick response from the authorities saying that it was not precise
enough and asking for it to be formulated better. She added that the OTP did
not expect them to wait six months or one year to respond and when authorities
were put under pressure, it did not expect to have this excuse used to explain
why the documents were not sent.

This was something the OTP could discuss with the states and
requested quick answers and with the assistance of the state could formulate
requests in ways that made it easier for documents to be found. It should not
be an argument to justify obstruction.

Asked how it was possible that a person like Dragan Vasiljkovic,
when the Tribunal spoke all the time about command responsibility, could come
to the Tribunal to testify and then be allowed to return to Belgrade, Hartmann
replied that Vasiljkovic came to the Tribunal as a witness in the Milosevic
case. He came under conditions of a witness. This did not mean that he was not
under other circumstances something other than just a witness.

Asked if he had asked for safe passage, Hartmann replied that
certain legal frameworks were protecting him. Chartier added that whatever legal
arrangements were made with witnesses they were always limited in time and space.

Hartmann said that she could not discuss OTP strategy before
it arrived at the Indictment stage or after 2004 when the OTP had concluded
its investigations and had issued all of its Indictments.

She added, however, that command responsibility was not the
only criteria. Evidence was necessary. Sometimes people complained that the
Tribunal indicted commanders, they believed it to be only on the basis of command
responsibility and that the indicted person sat in a nice office and had done
nothing. Other people complained that certain commanders were not indicted.
The OTP approach was that crimes were committed, the OTP looked at the gravest
breaches of international humanitarian law, then had to make a link through
evidence between the crime and the people responsible at the higher level by
planning and ordering. Sometimes it was easy to collect evidence and then an
Indictment could be issued quickly. Sometimes more time was needed. The Tribunal
was not established to prosecute all people even those with high responsibility.
The Tribunal would finish with around 150 Indictments, this did not represent
the number of people with high responsibility for the crimes. There were at
least 200,000 bodies in the former Yugoslavia, most of them victims of grave
breaches of international humanitarian law. It was a pity that the Tribunal
would not be able to bring justice on a large scale. If a person was not happy
with this outcome, then they should ask their domestic judiciary to be much
more proactive, which was not the case, she concluded.

Chartier added, that what Florence said was very important,
the Tribunal had not been given nor had asked for any sort of exclusivity. From
day one the Tribunal had said and continued to say that the prosecution and
trial of grave breaches of international law, wherever they were committed in
the former Yugoslavia, by whoever at whatever level, was and had to be a shared
undertaking and a joint effort between the international community and national
states. It was a shared burden. Carla Del Ponte was not the only Prosecutor
in the world.