Registry and Chambers:
Magdalena Spalińska, Spokesperson for Registry and Chambers, made the following statement:
The Judgement in the retrial of the three former commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, will be rendered tomorrow morning at 9:00 in Courtroom III. Those journalists who have requested to be accredited should come and pick up their tickets from the main entrance of the Tribunal’s building from 8:00 onwards.
The accreditation procedure for those journalists and members of the public wishing to attend the Appeals Judgement in the case of Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić, two Bosnian Serbs accused of crimes committed in the Eastern Bosnian town of Višegrad from 1992 to 1994, opened yesterday. The Appeals Judgement will be rendered next Tuesday, 4 December 2012, at 15:00 in Courtroom III.
A status conference in the appeals case of Vlastimir Đorđević will be held next Wednesday at 9:30 in Courtroom II. Đorđević, former Assistant Minister of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) and Chief of its Public Security Department (RJB) was sentenced to 27 years’ imprisonment on 23 February 2011 for crimes committed against Kosovo Albanian civilians in 1999.
Turning to the developments in the courtrooms:
In the trial of Goran Hadžić, the Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of protected witness GH-095 who is the 17th witness to be called by the Prosecution.
In the trial of Radovan Karadžić, witness Mile Sladoje is testifying on behalf of the Defence about the arming of Muslim forces in 1991. He is the 26th witness to be called by the Defence.
Proceedings in the case of Ratko Mladić will resume on Monday, 3 December at 9:30. The next expected witness is protected Prosecution witness RM-019.
Please note that ICTY President Judge Theodor Meron will be presenting the Tribunal’s bi-annual completion strategy report to the UN Security Council next Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 15:00 New York time – 21:00 in The Hague. The President will provide an update on the work of the Tribunal and the progress made towards the completion of its mandate. The President’s address will be followed by that of the Tribunal’s Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz. The President’s and Prosecutor’s addresses will be made available to the public through Press Releases issued after the delivery of these speeches.
Office of the Prosecutor:
Frederick Swinnen, Special Advisor to the Prosecutor, made no statement.
Asked what the procedure would be in the event of an acquittal in the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj and others. Spalińska answered that as is the usual procedure in the cases of acquittal at the Tribunal, if an accused is acquitted, he or she will be released immediately pending certain formalities and procedures that have to be fulfilled.
A journalist asked for a reaction regarding reports in the press on comments by the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor, Vladimir Vukčević’s that the OTP is responsible for the deaths of 19 witnesses in the case of Haradinaj and others, that incompetent OTP clerks ruined the case and that the OTP will be responsible for the eventual acquittal of the accused. Swinnen replied that the OTP is surprised by the information allegedly given by Mr. Vukčević, the Prosecutor for War crimes, which, as produced in some media reports, misrepresents the reality. Contrary to what has been published this morning, Swinnen stated that it is absolutely clear there is no evidence substantiating claims that prosecution witnesses in the Haradinaj case were killed because of their status as witnesses in that case. Swinnen went on to say that the last time Mr. Vukcevic made similar statements (different figures were mentioned), Mr. Brammertz had raised similar concerns. Mr. Vukčević finally corrected his statement and ultimately recognized that the information was wrong. Swinnen reiterated that it is therefore a real surprise that this mis-information is once more circulating in the media. The OTP has in the past recognized that the protection of witnesses was a major challenge in the Haradinaj trial and retrial. During the trial, the OTP raised numerous concerns it encountered in relation to the protection of witnesses. The Trial Chamber clearly stated that the proceedings were held in an atmosphere where witnesses felt unsafe and the Appeals Chamber ordered a retrial due to the serious witness intimidation that characterized the trial. To extrapolate from that assessment that numerous witnesses were killed is inaccurate.
Asked to comment on reports that Serbia had tried hard to assist the ICTY in the Haradinaj and others case but that most of the evidence handed over by Serbia was not accepted in this trial, Swinnen replied that evidence from all sources was assessed and presented to the Trial Chamber to consider where appropriate.
Asked whether there would be an opportunity to appeal tomorrow’s judgement in the Haradinaj and others retrial, Swinnen replied that in theory there should be a right to appeal.
A journalist asked to what extent the ICTY is working with the investigation into the alleged removal of the body organs of Serbian prisoners by Kosovars during the war in Kosovo. Swinnen stated that this is a separate investigation being carried out by a Special Investigative Task Force established by EULEX and headed by Clint Williamson. The OTP looked into organ trafficking when it was investigating war crimes during 2004 – 05. All information resulting from those investigations has been shared with the authorities of Serbia and made available to the Special Investigative Task Force led by Mr. Williamson.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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