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Weekly Press Briefing - 6 July 2011

Date: 6.7.2011

Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

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

Good afternoon,

I will first turn to two key decisions rendered since the last Press Briefing was held two weeks ago:

On Thursday 23 June, the Tribunals’ President, Judge Patrick Robinson, denied Johan Tarčulovski’s motion for early release on the basis that he has not yet served two-thirds of his sentence. Tarčulovski, a former police officer of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), was sentenced to 12-years’ imprisonment by the Trial Chamber in July 2008 for crimes committed against ethnic Albanians during the conflict in FYROM in 2001. On 19 May 2010, the Appeals Chamber rejected all grounds of appeal and upheld his sentence. Tarčulovski is now awaiting transfer to serve his sentence in a country which has signed an agreement on enforcement of sentences with the Tribunal.

On Wednesday 29 June, Trial Chamber II denied Mićo Stanišić’s request for provisional release during the summer recess on the basis of a lack of compelling humanitarian grounds. The Appeals Chamber is currently considering the Accused’s appeal against this decision.  

Turning now to the courtroom schedule:

Proceedings in the case of Ratko Mladić adjourned on Monday until further notice after the Trial Chamber entered pleas of “not guilty” on his behalf. The Chamber will schedule a Status Conference in due course and the media will be informed accordingly.

Vojislav Šešelj’s initial appearance in his third contempt of court case will be held this afternoon at 3:00 pm in Courtroom I. Šešelj, the leader of the Serbian Radical Party currently standing trial at the Tribunal for alleged war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Vojvodina in Serbia between 1991 and 1994, is accused of failing to remove confidential information from his personal website in violation of orders of a Chamber. The order in lieu of an indictment against Šešelj was issued on 9 May 2011 and made public on 24 May 2011.

A Status Conference in the appeals case of Milan and Sredoje Lukić will be held this Friday at 10:00 am in Courtroom II. In July 2009, Milan Lukić was sentenced to life and Sredoje Lukić to 30 years’ imprisonment for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the eastern Bosnian town of Višegrad.

Hearings in the cases of Radovan Karadžić, Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin, Jovića Stanišić and Franko Simatović as well as Zdravko Tolimir continue this week and next as scheduled.

In the Karadžić case, the Trial Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of a protected witness who is testifying in closed session.

In the Stanišić and Župljanin case, Defence witness Goran Mačar is currently testifying. Mačar was a professional policeman and chief of the General Crime prevention in the Secretariat of Interior (SUP) in Sarajevo. During the second half of 1992, Mačar was the Coordinator and the Head of the Crime Prevention Administration in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska (RS MUP). He is testifying about events on the ground and assignment of responsibilities.

In the trial of Jovića Stanišić and Franko Simatović, a protected witness is currently testifying in closed session. The witness has been called by the Defence of Stanišić.

This afternoon, the testimony of Dusan Janc, an investigator within the Office of the Prosecutor, will resume in the trial of Zdravko Tolimir.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Frederick Swinnen, Special Adviser to the Prosecutor, made no statement.


A journalist asked for an update on the appointment of counsel for Ratko Mladić and specifically on the appointment of the two lawyers mentioned in the course of the further initial appearance on Monday. The journalist referred to recent media reports according to which one of these lawyers himself had said that he did not fulfill the qualification requirements as he spoke no English or French and the other one had said he was not interested in representing the Accused. The journalist then asked whether consultations were still ongoing between the Registry and the Accused and if so, whether they also related to other potential lawyers besides these two.

Martin Petrov clarified that Mladić submitted a list of seven counsel to the Registry on the 22 June in order of preference. The two lawyers whose names Mladić mentioned at his further initial appearance on Monday were among them, in addition to five others. The Registry has been facilitating meetings with lawyers from that list because Mladić had expressed an interest in meeting each one of them prior to making a final determination as to his representation. This is why the Registry was somewhat taken by surprise when, at his further initial appearance, Mladić limited the discussion to these two lawyers.

Petrov confirmed that consultations were ongoing and that the Registry was working actively to facilitate meetings between the Accused and the two lawyers requested by him. Mr Saljic, Mladic’s lawyer from Belgrade, was already in The Hague and met with the Accused last Saturday. The reason why he could not travel earlier was because apparently he did not have a passport to leave Serbia. The Registry has been in contact with both lawyers since Monday and meetings between them and the Accused are likely to take place next week. As for Mr Saljic’s claim that due to his inability to speak English or French he cannot be appointed as counsel, Petrov explained that this is correct to a certain extent. Under the Rules, counsel appointed by the Tribunal under the legal aid system must be fluent in either English or French as one of the preconditions for assignment. Petrov explained that this is a condition sine qua non for lead counsel. The language requirement could be waived exceptionally for co-counsel if the interests of justice so require. So, in theory, assuming that all other qualification requirements are met, Mr Saljic could in principle become co-counsel in Mladić’s defence team. Petrov emphasised that Mladić would still need a lead counsel who meets all the qualification requirements and that choice is still in the hands of the Accused. There have been intensive consultations between Mladić and the Registry over the past weeks, during which the Registry has worked with Mladić in an effort to assist him in making a choice.

Asked whether there is a deadline for appointing counsel, Petrov responded that the Rules foresee the appointment to be made by a certain deadline, and this is the reason why the Registrar asked for an extension of time just before the further initial appearance - to enable the consultation process to be completed. Petrov added that there may be a break-through as early as next week if the two lawyers are able to visit the Accused. Assuming Mladić makes a selection, and the lawyer selected fulfils the qualification requirements, the Registry might be able to appoint counsel within the coming 10 days or so.

Asked whether the list of lawyers submitted by Mladić is confidential, Petrov responded that there are no specific rules on the confidentiality of such a list, which is not even foreseen by the Rules, but that for privacy reasons, the list is unlikely to be made public. Petrov specified that when accused persons request legal aid, they normally select a counsel from a list of qualified lawyers that is provided by the Registry. In this case, not all of the lawyers Mladić requested to meet with were on that list and the Registry is going out of its way to assist Mladić in selecting counsel by facilitating meetings with such lawyers.

Asked whether some of the lawyers put forward by Mladić were on the list of lawyers provided by the Registry, Petrov confirmed that some lawyers were indeed from the Registry’s list.

Asked whether Mladić has met all seven of them, Petrov responded that he has met most of them but not all seven of them yet.

Asked to clarify the dates on which the Accused submitted his request for counsel, Petrov explained that the Rules do not provide for the submission of a list of preferred counsel. This was something undertaken by the Accused as he wanted to meet with these lawyers. Petrov explained that what triggers the assignment of counsel is the submission of a request for the assignment of counsel and the submission of a declaration of means by the Accused. Petrov added that in the case of Mladić, this did not take place until 29 June.

Asked about the names listed in that application, Petrov confirmed that the names were those of Mr Saljic and Mr Mezyaev. However, Petrov added that because these two lawyers were not on the Registry’s list of counsel, and as such, they are not considered qualified for assignment, their credentials had to be verified and they had to be admitted to the Association of Defence Counsel practicing before the Tribunal. This could only take place after their names had been submitted by the Accused.

Asked whether Mladić has declared his means, Petrov confirmed that Mladić has submitted a declaration of means and that it is being reviewed at the moment. Petrov also confirmed that Mladić claimed indigence.

Asked whether the Prosecutor had taken a decision on whether to join Mladić’s case to that of Karadžić, Frederick Swinnen said that the Prosecution is preparing for the trial and that the Prosecutor will probably not propose that the two cases be joined. Any decision on how the Prosecution will organise and manage the case will be taken in due course. Swinnen added that, for the time being, the Prosecution is working with the operative indictment.

Asked whether he could elaborate more on the inappropriate exchanges between Mladić and the audience during Mladić’s initial appearance, Petrov said that he was not present in the courtroom and did not observe what exactly happened. However, it had been evident during the Accused’s initial appearance that he did communicate with the public gallery, specifically with representatives of the victims, by making certain gestures to them and vice-versa. Petrov’s understanding is that similar exchanges occurred during the further initial appearance, and this is the reason why the Presiding Judge warned Mladić on two occasions to discontinue his interaction with the public. Petrov declined to comment any further as he was unaware of the specific details.

Asked whether Mladić came to the further initial appearance voluntarily and whether the Chamber had ordered that he be brought to court, Petrov responded that Mladić had not been brought to the Tribunal by force, and that the Trial Chamber had not given any orders to that effect.

Asked to comment on Dutch media reports that the Accused had made gestures during his appearance in court with the specific intent of provoking victims of Srebrenica present in the public gallery, Petrov repeated that he was not in a position to comment any further as he himself was not present in the courtroom or the public gallery. Petrov added, however, that Judge Orie, as a very experienced judge, would have had serious reasons to give this warning to the Accused.

Asked about the problem with the transportation of the Accused to the Tribunal for his first appearance in court, Petrov responded that he was not aware of any such problems. He stated that the transportation of the Accused from the Detention Unit to the Tribunal for his initial appearance had been a very serious logistical operation, especially in light of the very high level of interest from the media and victims’ groups. He explained that transfers from the Detention Unit to the Tribunal and back fall under the responsibility of the host state, the Netherlands. The transfer of Mladić for his initial appearance went very smoothly and the relevant services of the host state did a very professional job.

Asked to comment on the Detention Unit Medical Officer’s assessment that Mladić was fit to come to the Tribunal and whether this was a final assessment of Mladić’s fitness to stand trial or whether the process of assessing his health was ongoing, Petrov said that the Chamber has not ordered an assessment of Mladić’s fitness to stand trial as this is not an issue before the Chamber at the moment. Petrov added that the Medical Officer performs regular medical tests and examinations on all detainees. As reported previously, a number of tests have also been performed on Mladić to fully assess his health status and all necessary measures have been taken to ensure that his health is monitored. The Medical Officer has a responsibility to inform the Registrar of the Tribunal of any life-threatening illness or situation, but no such indication has been received to date.      



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