(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Judges will soon consider two applications for deferral in
matters related to Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian Serb leadership.
The Trial Chambers of the International Tribunal will convene on Tuesday 9 May 1995 and on Monday 15 May 1995 to consider two applications for deferral filed on Friday 21 April 1995 by the Prosecutor.
Both applications relate to investigations and criminal proceedings being conducted by the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina: those investigations relate to matters that are closely linked to investigations currently being conducted by the Prosecutor. Accordingly the Prosecutor seeks to take over the Bosnian Government's investigations and to have the result of its inquiries passed to his Office.
1. The Lasva River Valley investigation
Since July 1994, the Office of the Prosecutor has been investigating crimes allegedly committed between September 1992 and June 1993 in the Lasva River Valley (Central Bosnia and Herzegovina).
The Prosecutor's investigators have gathered numerous statements and documents supporting the allegation that the attacks upon Ahmici, Vitez and other locations were planned, resulting in the deliberate murder of a large number of defenceless people protected under international law, and culminating in the mass killing of the Muslim ethnic group in the area and the unlawful destruction of real and personal property.
The Prosecutor is in possession of evidence which identifies a number of Bosnian Croat perpetrators.
2. The Bosnian Serb leadership investigation
The Office of the Prosecutor is currently investigating the criminal responsibility of the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs in Pale, particularly Radovan Karadzic, their leader, Ratko Mladic, commander of their army, and Mico Stanisic, former political head of their special police.
The investigations regarding the three suspects cover a wide range of alleged offences: genocide, other serious offences against civilians, and destruction of cultural and historical monuments.
The Prosecutor is further examining the individual criminal responsibility of these persons in relation to offences referred to in the indictments already issued by the Tribunal. Those indictments charge genocide, crimes against humanity, murder, rape, mistreatment of civilians, torture and other offences arising from the operation of detention camps and from attacks on unarmed civilians.
The Prosecutor is also investigating the protracted siege of Sarajevo and the unlawful attacks upon civilian members of humanitarian agencies, members of the United Nations peacekeeping forces, aid convoys and aircraft at Sarajevo.
1. What deferral means:
The purpose of the Prosecutor's applications is to ask the Judges of the Trial Chambers formally to request Bosnia-Herzegovina to defer to the Tribunal's jurisdiction, and to pass the results of its inquiries in these matters to the Office of the Prosecutor.
If such requests were to be issued by the Trial Chambers, the Office of the Prosecutor would incorporate the investigations from the national authorities with its own, and the persons under investigation would become subject to prosecution solely before the International Tribunal.
2. What deferral does not mean:
These applications and any subsequent requests are neither an indictment nor a trial.
The individuals under investigation in this phase are suspects. The term "suspect" is defined in the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure and Evidence as "a person concerning whom the Prosecutor possesses reliable information which tends to show that he may have committed a crime over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction."
These suspects may later formally become an accused.
The term "accused" is defined in the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure and Evidence as "a person against whom an indictment" has been issued.
A deferral hearing is not a trial. Witnesses will not be called, and evidence will not be heard. The Judges will not make any ruling about the guilt of the persons to whom the applications relate and, of course, no question of sentence will arise.
The Judges will simply consider the legal and factual grounds of the applications to assess whether a formal request for deferral can be isued.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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