Legacy website of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Since the ICTY’s closure on 31 December 2017, the Mechanism maintains this website as part of its mission to preserve and promote the legacy of the UN International Criminal Tribunals.

 Visit the Mechanism's website.

Dokmanovic case - Trial Chamber denies the motion for release by the accused.

Press Release . Communiqué de presse

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


The Hague, 27 October 1997




On Wednesday 22 October 1997, Trial Chamber II (consisting of Judge McDonald, presiding, Judge Odio Benito and Judge Jan) rendered a Decision on the Motion for Release by the Accused Slavko Dokmanovic: the Trial Chamber denied the accused’s motion.

The decision was handed down pursuant to the preliminary motions hearings of 5 and 8 September 1997, during which Defence counsel for Mr. Dokmanovic sought the release of the accused on the grounds that his arrest had been illegal, violating the Statute and Rules of the Tribunal, the sovereignty of the FRY, and international law (see PR 224 and 239). The Prosecutor
had contended that the Statute and Rules of the Tribunal had been fully complied with in all aspects of the arrest.


In refusing to grant the request for release by Counsel for Mr. Dokmanovi}, the Trial Chamber came to the conclusion that the accused was "arrested in the region of Croatia administered by UNTAES, by the forces of UNTAES, and with the participation of the Office of the Prosecutor. UNTAES legitimately executed the warrant of arrest, which had been directed to it pursuant to Rule
59bis of the Rules, and the OTP informed the accused of his rights. Rule 59bis provides for a method of arrest additional to that contemplated by Rule 55 and is fully supported by the Statute

Rule 59bis reads as follows:

Rule 59 bis

Transmission of Arrest Warrants

Notwithstanding Rules 55 to 59, on the order of a Judge, the Registrar shall transmit to an appropriate authority or international body or the Prosecutor a copy of a warrant for the arrest of an accused, on such terms as the Judge may determine, together with an order for his prompt transfer to the Tribunal in the event that he be taken into custody by that authority or international
body or the Prosecutor. At the time of being taken into custody an accused shall be informed immediately, in a language he understands, of the charges against him and of the fact that he is being transferred to the Tribunal and, upon his transfer, the indictment and a statement of the rights of the accused shall be read to him and he shall be cautioned in such a language. With regard
to the allegation by Mr. Dokmanovic that he had been assured safe-conduct by representatives of the OTP (an affirmation that was denied by the OTP), the Trial Chamber held that the evidence before it "suggests that Mr. Dokmanovic was not given an assurance of safe conduct and freedom from arrest by the representatives of the OTP or UNTAES". Moreover, the Judges found that such
safe conduct would not be enforceable as "only a Trial Chamber is entitled to give such guarantees in relation to the International Tribunal."

Addressing the question of the means used to accomplish the arrest of Mr. Dokmanovic, the Trial Chamber concluded that they had "neither violated principles of international law nor the sovereignty of the FRY." The Chamber opined that "UNTAES, in discharging its obligation to cooperate with the International Tribunal and enforcing its Chapter VII mandate, is assuring the
effectiveness of the Tribunal and thus contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security, as it is intended to do