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Weekly Press Briefing - 5 May 2011

The Press Briefing can be viewed on the
ICTY YouTube channel

Date: 5.5.2011
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

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

Good afternoon,

The Tribunal this week rendered two oral decisions under rule 98bis dealing with the motions for acquittal of Vojislav Šešelj and Franko Simatović respectively.

In the case of Franko Simatović, former elite Serb forces commander and one of the two accused in the Stanišić and Simatović case, the Trial Chamber this morning denied his motion for acquittal having found that the evidence presented by the Prosecution sufficiently establishes that he intended the commission of the crimes charged in all five counts of the indictment. The Defence case has been scheduled to start on Wednesday, 15 June. The date has however yet to be confirmed as a decision by the Appeals Chamber on Simatović’s request to push the date back to have more time to prepare is still pending.

In the case of Vojislav Šešelj, the Trial Chamber yesterday dismissed the Accused’s motion for acquittal concluding by majority, Judge Antonetti dissenting, that the evidence presented thus far is capable of sustaining a conviction on all nine counts of the indictment. Judge Antonetti will resume the reading of his dissenting opinion this afternoon at 14:15 in Courtroom I. After the completion of the Rule 98bis oral decision, it will be up to the Accused to inform the Chamber whether he intends on presenting a defence case or not. The media will be kept informed accordingly. 

Moving next to the forthcoming court schedule:

Next Tuesday, 10 May at 4:00pm in Courtroom I, a hearing will be held in the trial of Radovan Karadžić under Rule 54bis. This rule of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence relates to orders directed to states for the production of documents. During the hearing, the Trial Chamber will determine two motions submitted by the Accused. In these motions Karadzic requested binding orders requiring the United Nations and the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to provide him with certain documents related to the testimony of the scheduled witness, Ambassador Diego Arria of Venezuela.

A Status Conference in the case of Vlastimir Đorđević will be held on Monday, 30 May at 14:30. The courtroom will be announced in due course.

The trial of Zdravko Tolimir continues this week and next as scheduled with the Chamber currently hearing the testimony of Petar Salapura, former Chief of Intelligence of the Bosnian Serb Army Main Staff during the period in the indictment relating to the genocide in Srebrenica. He is the 104th witness to be called by the Prosecution.

Hearings in the case of Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin continue this week and next as scheduled. The Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of expert witness Mladen Bajagić. He is testifying about the organisation of the Ministry of Interior of Republika Srpska during the period 1990-1993. He is the 2nd witness to be called by the Defence.

I’ll turn finally to visits organised this week under the Outreach programme.

Today the Tribunal welcomes a group from the European Union’s People 2 People programme. This programme provides an opportunity for civil society organisations in candidate countries to EU enlargement to take part in study tours relating to EU integration. The group, from the region of the former Yugoslavia, will meet with officials from the Registry and the Office of the Prosecutor and take part in a variety of discussions including the perception of the Tribunal in the region and the Tribunal’s outreach work.

Tomorrow the Tribunal will host two visits of students from Serbia. Students from the University of Kragujevac will meet with officials from all three organs of the Tribunal and take part in discussions on a variety of issues including the gathering of evidence and cooperation with States, and the applicable law of the Tribunal. Students from the University of Belgrade will take part in a ‘virtual visit’ via video-link and will discuss the issue of crimes of sexual violence with a representative of the Office of the Prosecutor.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Frederick Swinnen, special adviser to the Prosecutor, made the following statement:

In preparation of the next report to the UN Security Council, the Prosecutor will be in Belgrade on 10-11 May to meet with authorities and discuss cooperation – in particular the non-arrest of the fugitives. He will meet the President, the Minister of Interior, the Minister in charge of cooperation with the Tribunal, the Prosecutor for War Crimes and operational services in charge of tracking the fugitives. There will also be a meeting with journalists. The date and time of the meeting will be announced shortly.

Asked whether the Prosecution had decided whether it would appeal the Gotovina et al. Judgement, Frederick Swinnen responded that the decision had not been made yet and that the Prosecution still had time to file a notice of appeal.

Asked how the Prosecutor’s visit to Croatia went, Swinnen responded that the Prosecutor had just returned from Zagreb. Ahead of submitting his next report to the UN Security Council, he met with the State Prosecutor, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and Members of the Government's Task Force in charge of looking for the military documents. The Prosecutor had frank discussions with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and Members of the Task Force on the country’s cooperation with the Tribunal. Swinnen added that the Prosecutor will soon finalise the report, which will address the cooperation.

Asked when the Prosecutor’s report to the Security Council would be submitted, Swinnen replied that it would be sent to the United Nations’ Secretariat probably on 16 May, who will then distribute it to all members of the Security Council. The Prosecutor will be in New York on 6 June to address the Security Council.

Asked whether the Prosecutor discussed the Gotovina et al. Judgement with his hosts during his visit in Zagreb, Swinnen responded that whilst the discussions were focused on the work of the Task Force, the Prosecutor made observations in regard to the authorities’ reactions to the Judgement. Swinnen added that the Prosecutor’s opinion had already been reported in the local media.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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