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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 21 May 2008

Date:  21.05.2008
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

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

Good afternoon,

President Pocar is today concluding his three-day working visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the country’s cooperation with the Tribunal, as well as issues related to the Tribunal’s legacy. On Monday he met with Željko Komšić, Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. President Pocar called for the four remaining fugitives to be arrested and for all states, including the state of BiH and authorities of Republika Srpska, to cooperate fully with the Tribunal. Yesterday, President Pocar traveled to Foča where he visited the prison there. In his statement to the media, he condemned Radovan Stanković’s escape from the prison almost a year ago and stressed the importance of improving the security situation in the prison of Foča and all prisons across Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today, President Pocar is visiting the Court of BiH where he will meet with Judge Meddžida Kreso, President of the Court. President Pocar will give a statement to the media at 14:00 at the Court.

A two day working visit to the Tribunal of Prosecutors’ from six Cantons and Districts of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s began today. The visit – a joint effort of OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Tribunal’s Outreach - will acquaint the local prosecutors with the functioning of the Tribunal and provide an opportunity for exchange of experiences. The Prosecutors are accompanied by the OSCE Head of Mission, Ambassador Douglas Davidson who will use this opportunity to have bilateral meetings with the Tribunal’s President and Prosecutor and discuss issues relevant to cooperation of the two institutions.

Baton Haxhiu will appear before Trial Chamber I this afternoon at 14:15 in Courtroom 1 to enter a plea to charges of contempt of court made public yesterday. He is the third person to be indicted for contempt in just as many weeks. Haxhiu is accused of revealing the identity of a protected witness in the case of Ramush Haradinaj and others in an article carried in a Kosovo newspaper of which he was the editor.

The contempt of court trial of Haraqija and Morina has been scheduled to take place on the afternoon of the 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 June 2008 in Courtroom II. Haraqija and Morina are accused of trying to persuade protected witness PW not to testify against Ramush Haradinaj. Both pleaded not guilty at their initial appearance on Tuesday 29 April 2008. 

On Friday, Trial Chamber III decided to postpone the trial of Stanišić and Simatović for three months to enable Stanišić’s state of health to be reassessed. The Defence has requested his provisional release for the accused to be treated in Belgrade and Montenegro. The Trial Chamber is to rule on the request by Friday after receiving the Prosecution’s response to the Defence request.

As to the Milutinović et al.trial, all Defence teams rested their case on Friday. A total of 111 defence witnesses have been heard, together with three joint expert witnesses for all defence teams and one expert witness for Ojdanić and Lukić. The Trial Chamber has since been hearing the evidence of one extra witness it has called. Let me remind you that the closing arguments of both parties have been scheduled for 22 and 25 July 2008.

As regards courtroom schedule:

A pre-defence conference in Popović et al. is scheduled for tomorrow morning in Courtroom I.

Friday afternoon, there will be a Motion Hearing in Momčilo Peršić. The hearing will be held in closed session and the accused, who is currently on provisional release, will be absent from court.

Hearings in Šešelj and Gotovina et al. continue as scheduled.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Olga Kavran, Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor, made no statement.


Asked for more details regarding the contempt of court indictment of Baton Haxhiu and why the name of the newspaper has been blacked out, Kavran replied that this redaction was done at the request of the Judges so she could not comment on. She mentioned that this indictment did illustrate that the Tribunal Prosecution and the Judges take the issue of protection of witnesses very seriously. In cases where people choose to violate Tribunal’s order and relieve information or publish information about the protection of witnesses they will be brought to trial on contempt charges to which the maximum penalties are 7 years imprisonment or 100,000 euros fine or both.

The same journalist asked whether anything was revealed after the witness testified or before, Kavran replied that due to the redactions in the indictment she could not go into details at this stage but perhaps more information would be available this afternoon.

Asked when the Prosecution would respond to Stanišić’s request for provisional release to be treated in Belgrade and Montenegro, Kavran replied that that would be today and said that the response should be public as the initial request was filed public.

Another journalist asked (in BCS) whether the archives of the Tribunal and requests for them to be send to the region and Sarajevo could be answered Jelačić replied that the Tribunal is working, and to this effect has named a special independent commission, on what should happen to the Tribunal’s archives after it completes its mandate. This commission is due to send its draft report to the Tribunal’s principals this summer. Until then the Tribunal wishes not to comment on any possible place where the archives should be in. She continued to say that the Tribunal has always and will continue to work in probably the most transparent manner of judiciary in the former Yugoslavia. She concluded to say that a lot of what has been done, seen or said before this court is already available.