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Press Statement from the Prosecutor regarding Kosovo Investigation.


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

Skopje, Macedonia, 20 January 1999
Press Statement from the Prosecutor regarding Kosovo Investigation


On Monday I travelled to Skopje with the intention of proceeding to Kosovo to investigate the reported atrocities in Racak. Following the refusal of the Serbian authorities to allow me access to Kosovo, I decided to await further developments.

I was informed by General Clark last night that he and General Naumann had been unable to secure the compliance of President Milosevic with respect to NATO’s demand that my Office be granted access to Kosovo to conduct investigations into the alleged commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

However, I continue to hope that President Milosevic can be persuaded to assist us in uncovering the full truth of what happened at Racak.

I recognise that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) advances legal arguments to deny the jurisdiction of the ICTY. I reiterate the position that I put yesterday to Mr Knezevic, the Minister of Justice for the FRY. The granting of access to Kosovo to my Office for investigative purposes will not constitute an admission by the FRY that the ICTY has any jurisdiction in this matter. I undertake not to use my access to the territory of Yugoslavia as evidence that the FRY has voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the ICTY.

I am now returning to The Hague and thereafter will decide the next step to take in this matter. I wish to stress in the strongest terms that our efforts are seriously hampered by our inability to conduct on-site investigations, nevertheless I am determined that this investigation will proceed. Even though we have been denied access to Kosovo, the team will remain in the region to assemble information and gather evidence. The investigators are ready to proceed to Kosovo as soon as an acceptable form of access is granted.

In relation to this investigation I continue to call on governments and international organisations for relevant information in their possession.

In the course of the last 10 months the Security Council has called upon my Office several times to investigate crimes committed there that have shocked the conscience of the world. In doing so, the international community has raised expectations among those who are suffering in Kosovo that justice would be done. To the families of the victims of the massacre at Racak, and other atrocities committed in the previous months, I express my sincere regret that we are not able to bring, at this time, the comfort of truth and the expectation of justice.

It is my intention to hold a press conference in The Hague tomorrow.


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