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Weekly Press Briefing - 18 May 2011

The Press Briefing can be viewed on the
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Date: 18.5.2011
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

Nerma Jelačić, Spokesperson for Registry and Chambers, made the following statement:

Good afternoon,

I would first like to address inaccurate media reports regarding the Appeals Chamber’s decision related to the financing of defence of the Accused Vojislav Šešelj. This decision, issued yesterday in a public redacted form, dismissed a submission made by the Registry in November 2010 in which the Registry requested that the Appeals Chamber invalidate the Trial Chamber’s decision ordering the Registry to provide Šešelj’s legal associates with 50% of the funding allocated in principle to totally indigent accused. Any payments to Šešelj based on this decision will be strictly limited to remuneration levels prescribed for self-represented accused. This decision is in no way related to the demands for compensation made in the courtroom by Accused Šešelj during his 98 bis submission.

As a reminder, the Appeals Chamber, Judges Güney and Pocar dissenting, found that the Trial Chamber was entitled to exercise jurisdiction over the issue of the legal assistance as it is the Chamber’s duty to ensure the fairness or proceedings and the right to be tried without undue delay. The Appeals Chamber further clarified that the Trial Chamber’s decision was not a final ruling but simply an interim measure, until sufficient information is available for the Registry to assess the financial status of the Accused. Should it become apparent that he has sufficient means to remunerate his legal associates, the Registry would be in a position to recover the allocated funds from the Accused.

I will now turn to the latest developments in the ongoing appeals cases of Gotovina and others and Popović and others:

On Monday, the Defence teams of Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač submitted their notices of appeal. According to the Tribunal’s rules, parties have 75 days from the day of the filing of their notices to submit their appeal briefs. The Prosecution has not appealed the sentences of Gotovina and Markač nor has it appealed the acquittal of Ivan Čermak. This means that proceedings against Čermak are now concluded. This brings the total number of individuals for whom proceedings have been completed to 126.

In the appeals case of Vujadin Popović and others, the Appeals Chamber on Monday ordered the suspension of appeals proceedings against Milan Gvero to enable the Accused to be medically examined by a Neurologist. The Neurologist, who has yet to be appointed by the Registry, is to submit a written report to the Appeals Chamber on his current state of health as well as his capacity to understand the substance of the Trial Judgement against him and the appeals process. The report is to be submitted no later than 6 weeks from the date of his or her appointment. Milan Gvero, former Assistant Commander for Moral, Legal and Religious Affairs of the VRS Main Staff, was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment in June 2010 having been found guilty of persecution and inhumane acts committed in 1995 in relation to the fall of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Žepa. He was acquitted of the two counts of murder and that of deportation.

Moving on to the courtroom schedule for this week and next:

A Status Conference in the appeals case of Vlastimir Đorđević will be held on Monday, 30 May at 12:00 in Courtroom III.  Đorđević, a former senior Serbian police official, was found guilty in February 2011 of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against Kosovo Albanian civilians in 1999. He was sentenced to 27 years’ imprisonment.

Proceedings in the trial of Radovan Karadžić will resume on Tuesday, 31 May at 9:00 in Courtroom I.

Hearings in the case of Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin as well as Zdravko Tolimir continue this week and next as scheduled. In the Stanišić and Župljanin case, the Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of Andrija Bjelošević, former Chief of police in Doboj, in Republika Srpska.

In the Tolimir trial, the Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of Manojlo Milovanović. He is the 106th witness to be called by the Prosecution.

To conclude, I would like to provide you with a short update on the latest activities of the War Crimes Justice Project:

Last Thursday and Friday, the Tribunal held a training session for Croatian legal professionals at the Judicial Academy in Split. Participants were judges, legal advisors and deputy prosecutors from the county courts and state attorney’s offices of Split, Zadar, Šibenik and Dubrovnik. The goal of the training was to share the Tribunal’s institutional knowledge and specialised skills with jurisdictions in the region as a means of enhancing their capacity to handle complex war crimes cases.

A similar training will be held this week on Thursday and Friday with Kosovan legal professionals. This will be the first training of the sort to be held in Kosovo as part of the Project.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Frederick Swinnen, special adviser to the Prosecutor, made no statement.

A journalist asked whether the Prosecution could comment on why it did not appeal the Gotovina et al. Judgement. In response, Frederick Swinnen confirmed that, after carefully reviewing the Trial Judgement, the Prosecution decided not to file an appeal. Swinnen said that the Prosecution was of the view that the Judgement did not contain factual or legal errors in respect of Gotovina and Markač and that the sentences they received adequately reflect the scale of the crimes and their individual culpability. Considering the high standard of review that would be applied to any Prosecution appeal of the Trial Chamber's findings and acquittal of Čermak, the Prosecution concluded that there was not a sufficient likelihood of success on appeal to justify initiating appeal proceedings in respect of Čermak.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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