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Weekly Press Briefing - 31 August 2011

Date: 31.08.2011
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

Martin Petrov, Chief of the Office of the Registrar, made the following statement:

Good afternoon,

Trial Chamber I will render its judgement in the case of Momčilo Perišić next Tuesday, 6 September 2011 at 11am in Courtroom III. The former Chief of General Staff is the most senior officer of the Yugoslav Army to have been indicted by the Tribunal for crimes committed during the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. He is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, inhumane acts and attacks on civilians committed between 1993 and 1995 in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Zagreb. His trial began on 2 October 2008 and concluded on 11 January 2011. The parties made closing arguments from 28 to 31 March 2011, during which the Prosecution requested a life sentence, while the Defence asked for an acquittal. During the 203 days of hearings, a total of 82 Prosecution witnesses and 22 Defence witnesses were called.

I’ll turn now to matters arising from courtroom proceedings during the last week.

During his further initial appearance last Wednesday 24 August, Goran Hadžić pleaded not guilty to all the charges in his indictment. A Status Conference in this case will be scheduled in due course and the media will be informed accordingly

In the case of Radovan Karadžič, the accused filed a motion on 23 August requesting the suspension of proceedings for a period of one week to allow him to prepare for the testimony of a Prosecution witness KDZ-490 scheduled to testify during September. The Chamber denied the motion, finding that the accused would have sufficient time to review the materials on a rolling basis and also use a scheduled break in the court proceedings in October for that purpose. In line with this, the Trial Chamber instructed the Prosecution not to call that witness before 17 October.

During the Status Conference in the case of Ratko Mladić held last Thursday, 25 August, several pre-trial matters were discussed, including deadlines for pending motions and disclosure issues. The Defence has until today, 31 August, to respond to the Prosecution’s motion to sever the indictment. The pre-trial Judge also ordered the Defence to respond to Radovan Karadžić’s motion for access to confidential materials in the case by 8 September. The next Status Conference will take place on Thursday, 6 October, at 14:30 in Courtroom III.

Last Friday, 26 August, at the further initial appearance of Shefqet Kabashi, the accused pleaded guilty to charges of contempt of the Tribunal. An additional hearing was held later that afternoon during which Judges Moloto and Delvoie both asked to be replaced as judges on the bench in order to avoid any appearance of partiality as they both are also sitting in the related Haradinaj and others case. An order assigning Judges Kwon and Morrison to the case of Kabashi was issued by Acting President Kwon on Monday, 29 August. A further hearing has been scheduled to take place today at 2:30pm in courtroom II for the procedure set out in Rule 62bis to take place. The purpose of the hearing is for the Trial Chamber to satisfy itself that the guilty plea has been made voluntarily, that it is informed and unequivocal, and that there is a sufficient factual basis for the crime and the accused’s participation it.

In the trial of Zdravko Tolimir, the Defence confirmed on Monday that they will not be making a submission under Rule 98bis of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Rule 98bis provides that the accused may file a motion for a judgement of acquittal on one or more charges in the indictment after the close of the Prosecutor’s case. After hearing submissions from the parties, the Trial Chamber can enter a judgement of acquittal on any count if it finds that the evidence presented by the Prosecution is insufficient to support a conviction. Tolimir’s Defence has confirmed that they will be presenting a Defence case.

Turning now to current courtroom activity:

In the trial of Radovan Karadžić, the Trial Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of protected witness KDZ-033 in closed session.

 In the trial of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, the Trial Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of protected witness DST-063 also in closed session.

In the case of Zdravko Tolimir, witness Richard Butler, Military expert will testify this afternoon about the VRS during the operation.

In the trial of Haradinaj and others, the Trial Chamber will this afternoon hear the testimony of Witness 75, resuming his testimony from yesterday, regarding the detention of his brother by the KLA in the detention camp "Jablanica".

The case against Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin will resume on Monday, 5 September at 9:00 in Courtroom III, with the start of Župljanin’s Defence case.

A status conference will be held in the Vlastimir Đorđević case on 21 September at 9:30 in Courtroom II.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Aleksandar Kontić, member of the Prosecutor’s immediate office, made no statement.


A journalist referred to the deadline for Ratko Mladić’s Defence to file its response to the Prosecution’s motion to sever the indictment and asked if the Defence’s response would be public and if so, when it would be made available to the public. Petrov answered that he could not think of any reason why the response would be filed confidentially and that he believed the Defence would file it publicly. Petrov added that as soon as the Registry receives the filing, it would be made available to the public.

Turning to the questions received as part of the Interactive Press Briefing, Martin Petrov responded to the following question:

A journalist asked how persons acquitted by the ICTY are compensated and what amounts are paid to them and how are the amounts calculated. Martin Petrov responded that in the event of an acquittal on all charges, according to Rule 99 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Chamber will order the immediate release of the accused, unless the Chamber grants a Prosecution request for a stay of the release pending an appeal. The Tribunal’s Statute does not, however, provide for compensation to accused persons who have been acquitted by either the Trial or the Appeals Chamber where the Chamber has found that the charges were not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Asked when the Mladić trial will begin, Petrov answered that it will open when the Trial Chamber considers that the case is trial-ready. There are a number of procedural requirements that need to be fulfilled, for example, any preliminary motions need to be ruled upon. In addition, in this case, the Trial Chamber needs to rule on the Prosecution’s motion to sever the indictment. This is a matter of critical importance to the scope of the case, which, in turn, will affect the starting date of the trial or trials. Petrov also noted that the Trial Chamber’s decision may result in an appeal.

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