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Weekly Press Briefing - 21 July 2010

Date:  21.7.2010
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

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

Good afternoon,
This morning, the Appeals Chamber, by majority, partially quashed the acquittals and ordered a partial re-trial of the case for former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Ramush Haradinaj, former member of the KLA and commander of a special unit known as the Black Eagles Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, who served as deputy commander of the KLA Dukagjin Operative Staff.
The Appeals Chamber—by majority and with Judge Robinson dissenting—granted the Prosecutions first ground of appeal that argued the Trial Chamber erred when it refused the Prosecution’s requests for additional time to exhaust all reasonable steps to secure the testimony of two crucial witnesses and ordered the close of the Prosecution case before such steps could have been taken. It held that, taken individually and outside the context of the trial, each of the Trial Chamber’s decisions concerning the testimony of these witnesses could be considered as falling within the scope of the Trial Chamber’s discretion, but that, when these decisions were evaluated together—and particularly in the context of the serious witness intimidation that formed the context of the Trial—it was clear that the Trial Chamber seriously erred in failing to take adequate measures to secure the testimony of certain witnesses.
Further details of these findings can be found in the Press Release, Judgement and Judgement summary issued this morning.
The Appeals Chamber ordered the detention of Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj at the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague, where they will remain pending further orders.

Last Wednesday, the Appeals Chamber granted in part Veselin Šljivančanin’s application for a review of the Appeals Chamber Judgement of 5 May 2009.

In September 2007, Šljivančanin, a former senior officer of the JNA, was found guilty of aiding and abetting torture of non-Serb prisoners of war taken from Vukovar Hospital to a farm nearby Ovčara and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The Appeals Chamber affirmed the conviction and added a new conviction for aiding and abetting the murder of prisoners. His sentence was increased to 17 years’ imprisonment.

In January 2010, Šljivančanin requested that the testimony of Miodrag Panić, a Yugoslav Army officer in Vukovar, be heard, arguing that his testimony would invalidate his convictions of aiding and abetting murder. Panić’s testimony was heard on 3 June 2010.

The Appeals Chamber found that the new information provided by Panić could, if proved, fundamentally alter the balance of evidence and to ignore it would lead to a miscarriage of justice.

All parties are to submit by 30 July a list of evidence and witnesses it wishes to introduce at the Review Hearing, the date of which will be announced in due course.

This is the first time in the history of the Tribunal that a request for review of a judgement has been granted. There have been ten previous application filed by convicted persons and one by the Prosecution. All have been rejected.

On to decisions regarding the upcoming court schedule:

On Monday, the Appeals Chamber denied Radovan Karadžić’s appeal from the order on the trial schedule of 27 May 2010, in which the Trial Chamber confirmed that it would sit four days per week from 31 May 2010 onwards. The Appeals Chamber did not find that the Trial Chamber erred in equating his situation with that of an accused represented by counsel and recalled that “in general a self-represented accused is expected to undertake all the tasks normally assumed by counsel.” The Appeals Chamber also reiterated that an accused “who decides to represent himself relinquishes many of the benefits associated with representation by counsel.”

Also on Monday, the Trial Chamber issued an oral decision on Franko Simatović’s request for adjournment of proceedings. In his motion, Simatović requested the Chamber to cancel the sessions currently scheduled for 23 and 24 August and to reconvene no later than 1 September, to allow the newly appointed Defence counsel additional time to prepare witnesses currently scheduled for after the summer recess. The Chamber found that the Defence had an opportunity in the past weeks to use the extra time freed up by the cancellation of hearings to prepare for the upcoming witnesses and therefore denied the motion.

Hearings in the case of Radovan Karadžić as well as Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin continue today and tomorrow as scheduled. The Tribunal will be in recess from Monday 26 July until Friday 13 August.

    Key dates for after the summer recess include the hearing of the Closing Arguments in the trial of Gotovina and others from 30 August to 2 September and the Appeals Hearing in the case of Milan and Sredoje Lukić on 21 September.

I invite you to check the Tribunal’s website towards the end of the summer recess for the latest courtroom schedule. The next Press Briefing will be held on Wednesday 18 August.

Office of the Prosecutor:

The Office of the Prosecutor was not represented at this press briefing.


Asked for an elaboration of the circumstances of Hardinaj’s arrest, Jelačić said that he was transferred from Pristina to The Hague yesterday in accordance with a confidential arrest warrant the Tribunal issued on Monday, 19 July.

Asked whether the Tribunal sought assistance of EULEX, UNMIK or the local police in the carrying out of this order, Jelačić answered that it was EULEX.

Asked if this was the first Tribunal decision to order a re-trial, Jelačić confirmed that it was the first decision of this kind. Jelačić added that the next step would be the assigning of a new Trial Chamber which will determine the way to precede forward.

Asked if judges mandates would now have to be extended even further considering the re-trial, Jelačić stated that at this moment it would be too early to say what the estimates would be for the length of the partial re-trial.

Asked if the contempt case against Shefqet Kabashi, a witness in the Haradinaj case was still pending, Jelačić said that she would have to look in to the matter.

Asked if now the Prosecution would attempt to secure the testimony of the witnesses in the Haradinaj case, Jelačić said that it would be up to the Prosecution to decide in which manner to go forward.