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Weekly Press Briefing - 18 August 2010

Date:  18.8.2010
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

Christian Chartier, Acting Spokesperson for Registry and Chambers, made the following statement:

Good afternoon,

Welcome back to the Tribunal. Of the eight ongoing trials, that of Radovan Karadžić, Zdravko Tolimir and Mico Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin have resumed since the end of the summer recess on Monday. The courtrooms will be back in their full capacity later this month.

Before turning to the courtroom schedule, I would like to flag up two significant decisions made during the summer recess:

On Monday, 26 July, the Tribunal’s President, Judge Patrick Robinson, denied early release to Momčilo Krajišnik. The Tribunal had been advised by authorities in the UK, where Krajišnik has been serving his sentence (20 years) since 4 September 2009, that he would be eligible for release on 2 April 2010, having served half of his sentence. In his decision, President Robinson found that, although Krajišnik has "displayed some evidence of rehabilitation", the "very high gravity" of his crimes and the practice of the Tribunal to consider convicted persons to be eligible for early release only when they have served two-thirds of their sentence, weighed against early release.

Also on 26 July, this time in the Gotovina et al. case, the Trial Chamber denied the Prosecution motion for an order, under Rule 54bis, directing Croatia to produce the special police and artillery documents sought by the Office of the Prosecutor. After two years of Croatia looking for the documents and filing numerous reports on the status of the missing documents, the Chamber found that there were uncertainties regarding the creation, continued existence and / or whereabouts of the documents, and that it was therefore inappropriate to issue an order directing Croatia to produce the requested documents. The Chamber emphasised that this decision does not affect Croatia’s obligation to co-operate with the Tribunal in this regard and that Croatia should continue providing any new information to the Chamber.

Onto the upcoming courtroom schedule:

The trial of Radovan Karadžić resumed yesterday morning with the testimony of Richard Mole. The Trial Chamber announced that it would render its decision of Karadžić’s request to suspend the proceedings for three weeks so that he can review Mladić’s tapes by today or tomorrow. In the meantime, the Chamber has decided to proceed with hearing the evidence of Richard Mole, Richard Higgs, and Tomasz Blaszczyk, as well as to proceed with the cross-examination of Ekrem Suljević, as it does not consider these witnesses to be affected by the issues raised in the Accused’s motion.

Hearings in the trial of Momčilo Perišić and Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović will resume next week. Closing arguments in the trial of Gotovina et al. will be held from Monday, 30 August until Thursday, 2 September as originally scheduled.

Please note that the Appeals Hearing in the case of Milan and Sretoje Lukić will no longer be held on 21 September and will be rescheduled in due course.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Acting Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor, Frederick Swinnen, made the following statement:

The Office of the Prosecutor notes the recent decision of the Trial Chamber in the Gotovina et al. case, on the Prosecution's Application for an Order pursuant to Rule 54 bis.  The Trial Chamber has decided not to impose an order for the production of documents after having considered uncertainties surrounding the documents requested.  The Trial Chamber has emphasized that Croatia still has a general obligation to co-operate with the Tribunal in regard to the documents in question.  The Trial Chamber noted that new information is received on an ongoing basis, and a further application to the Trial Chamber is possible if new information or new circumstances arise.  The general responsibility to cooperate with the Tribunal includes ongoing efforts to identify the existence and whereabouts of any requested documentation.  The OTP understands that such efforts, consistent with the decision, remain ongoing.   The Prosecution will continue to seek Croatia's cooperation and work with the Authorities to locate and obtain relevant documentation.


A journalist asked why he had not received the Šešelj Trial Chamber decision of 29 June ordering the appointment of amicus curiae to investigate allegations by a number of witnesses that they had been intimidated and/or pressured by members of the OTP. The journalist wondered whether a new practice had been established not to distribute some decisions and if the name of the amicus was yet known.

Chartier answered that no new procedure had been established and that, as a matter of fact, the decision had been immediately available on the Court records Database on the ICTY website. He explained that the decision was not further publicised or announced due to the fact that until recently a procedural legal proceeding regarding the actual status of the decision was ongoing. Meanwhile, the matter has been settled and the decision from late June can now be discussed.

Chartier stressed that it was a decision made proprio motu by the Chamber, meaning it was not a decision following a motion by either OTP or the Defence. It was initiated by the Chamber when it became alarmed by a number of complaints by witnesses in court that they had been allegedly intimidated or pressured by members of OTP. The Chamber obviously took these allegations very seriously and decided that it would be wrong to leave any space for doubt arising either on the protection of the rights of the accused or on the investigation techniques by members of OTP, said Chartier. This was why the Chamber ordered the Registrar to appoint amicus curiae to look into the allegations and to report to the Chamber within six months whether there were sufficient grounds to initiate contempt proceedings against OTP investigators.

Chartier added that the Registry has been looking into possible candidates for amicus curiae taking into consideration the Chamber’s requirement to preferably have a native French speaker. He announced that four names have been submitted to the Chamber and that a decision could be expected relatively soon.

A journalist pointed out that the English translation of the decision stated whether grounds exist to initiate contempt proceedings against members of the prosecution and not investigators and that the title of the decision listed three specific names.

Chartier said that the names on the front page were there because the Chamber, acting proprio motu, decided to reconsider a previous decision, of 2007, made following a Motion by the Accused, which Motion’s title included specific names. Chartier said that when he referred to OTP investigators in his previous statement he was quoting from the top of his head from the French version of the decision, that he might be wrong and that he will undertake a comparison between the French and English versions.

Added after the briefing: Chartier pointed out the wording of par.5 of the disposition of the Decision, reading as follows: “Orders the amicus curiae to investigate possible intimidation or pressure, albeit indirect, exerted by certain investigators for the Prosecution in this case and to investigate techniques used by these investigators to obtain preliminary written statements from witnesses, particularly insofar as concerns the following persons who have testified or may potentially testify in this case: [redacted].”