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Statement by Justice Louise Arbour, Prosecutor ICTY.

Press Release · Communiqué de presse

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

The Hague, 27 May 1999



On May 22, I presented an indictment for confirmation against Slobodan Milosevic and four others charging them with crimes against humanity - specifically murder, deportation and persecutions, and with violations of the laws and customs of war. The indictment was confirmed by a Judge of this Tribunal on May 24. The indictment was the subject of a non-disclosure order which expired
at noon today. I sought this order on the basis of security considerations, in particular for the UN humanitarian mission which left the former Yugoslavia this morning.

The following accused are jointly indicted:

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,

MILAN MILUTINOVIC, President of the Republic of Serbia,

NIKOLA SAINOVIC, Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,

DRAGOLJUB OJDANIC, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and

VLAJKO STOJILJKOVIC, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia.

Arrests warrants have been issued against all five accused and are being served on all Member States of the United Nations and Switzerland. The warrants are accompanied by a court order requesting all States to search for and freeze any and all assets of the accused under their jurisdiction. This order was sought to prevent foreign assets being used for the purpose of evading
justice, and to permit effective restitution to be made upon conviction. These provisional measures are granted without prejudice to the rights of third parties.

This indictment is the product of intense efforts by a large number of people in my Office. It does not represent the totality of the charges that may result from our continuing investigations of these accused, nor does it represent our final determination of the responsibility of others in relation to the same events. The present indictment is based exclusively on crimes committed
since the beginning of 1999 in Kosovo. We are continuing to develop an evidentiary base upon which I believe we will be able to expand upon the present charges. We are still actively investigating other incidents in Kosovo, as well as the role of the accused, or of some of them, in Croatia and Bosnia in earlier years. We are also still investigating the role and responsibility of
others into the crimes contained in this indictment.

Although this broad investigation is on-going, we had reached a point, at the end of last week where, in my view, we had sufficient evidence of these very serious offences committed by these accused to require us to bring these charges at this stage. As usual, this indictment was the subject of thorough scrutiny within the Office of the Prosecutor before being submitted to a Judge
for confirmation. In order to have the indictment confirmed, the Prosecutor must present a prima facie case. In his decision confirming the indictment, Judge David Hunt said:

"A prima facie case on any particular charge exists in this situation where the material facts pleaded in the indictment constitute a credible case which would (if not contradicted by the accused) be a sufficient basis to convict him of that charge."

We have received, and we are continuing to receive valuable information from governments, as well as from groups and individuals. We are still awaiting further evidence that I believe many States will be able to contribute to our larger investigation. I repeat my pressing call to them to come forward and be responsive to our outstanding and future Requests for Assistance in
relation to evidence in their possession.

I also call upon all States to comply with the execution of these, and all outstanding arrests warrants issued by the Tribunal. These warrants are issued under the authority of a Security Council resolution, which requires all States to comply with the orders of the Tribunal. I call in particular on the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and especially on the
Minister of Justice, to stand up for the Rule of Law, and to request that all the accused voluntarily submit to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, or, should they fail to do so, to provide for their arrest and transfer to The Hague.

I have been stressing for several months now our commitment to functioning as a real time law enforcement operation. I believe that it is an extraordinary achievement, by any law enforcement standard, for us to have brought to successful confirmation, an indictment against the five accused, for crimes of this magnitude committed since the beginning of this year. This has been
achieved in less than five months, under the demanding requirements of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which compel the production to a Judge of detailed supporting materials to substantiate the charges. The supporting materials, which contain witness statements and relevant documents, which were filed with the Registry, will not be disclosed until the accused appear
to answer the charges.

Finally, I am mindful of the impact that this indictment may have on the peace process in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. I am confident, as was obviously the Security Council in creating this Tribunal and in calling upon it several times in the last year to address this issue, that the product of our work will make a major contribution to a lasting peace, not only in Kosovo,
but in the whole region in which we have jurisdiction. No credible, lasting peace can be built upon impunity and injustice. The refusal to bring war criminals to account would be an affront to those who obey the law, and a betrayal of those who rely on it for their life and security.

Although the accused are entitled to the benefit of the presumption of innocence until they are convicted, the evidence upon which this indictment was confirmed raises serious questions about their suitability to be the guarantors of any deal, let alone a peace agreement. They have not been rendered less suitable by the indictment. The indictment has simply exposed their

An independent review by a Judge of this Tribunal has confirmed that there is a credible basis to believe that these accused are criminally responsible for the deportation of 740,000 Kosovo Albanians from Kosovo, and for the murder of over 340 identified Kosovo Albanians. The victims were entitled to expect protection from each one of these accused.

This indictment is directed against the five named accused. It is not directed against the State of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, nor against its people. Whatever the differences amongst the citizens of the FRY, and the differences they may have with other nations, I believe that they will expect their leaders who have abused their trust, to come to The Hague to respond to
these accusations.