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Justice Arbour's statement regarding war crimes related trials currently underway in Germany.

Press Release · Communiqué de presse

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


The Hague, 19 March 1997


The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Justice Louise Arbour, stated in The Hague today that there appears to be some confusion in the German and Dutch media over why her Office is not involved in the two German war crimes-related prosecutions currently underway against Novislav Djajic (in Munich) and Nikola Jorgic (in

Justice Arbour points out that reports that these cases are being prosecuted in Germany because the ICTY's court case-load is too heavy are simply not correct. Equally erroneous are press suggestions that the International Tribunal has somehow "failed" to prosecute these cases itself.

The true position is that the International Tribunal and national courts have concurrent jurisdiction, and that such cases can be properly prosecuted in either forum. The establishment of the International Tribunal has not affected the obligation under international law for national authorities to apprehend and prosecute, under their own domestic legislation, persons who have
committed serious violations of international humanitarian law. The prosecution of such cases is not the exclusive domain of the ICTY, although the Tribunal can exercise primacy over national court.

The Djajic and Jorgic cases were initiated and investigated by the German authorities, who consulted with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal. The Prosecutor assessed that it was not appropriate to seek a deferral of these cases, and the decision was made that they continue to be prosecuted by the German authorities. There is on-going co-operation between the
Prosecutor and the German authorities on these and other cases.

The Prosecutor never discloses her reasons not to seek deferral in a particular case, and no reliance can be placed on reports purporting to place those reasons in the public domain. Justice Arbour commends the fact that Germany has investigated and is prosecuting these and similar cases.