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ICTY Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte Addresses once again "The Unsatisfactory Co-operation" of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with the Office of the Prosecutor

Press Release . Communiqué de presse

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


The Hague, 20 December 2002

FH/P.I.S./ 721-e


Please find below the statement delivered by the ICTY Prosecutor, Ms. Carla del Ponte, at a press conference held at the Tribunal on Friday 20 December 2002:

I regret that I have to address once again the issue of unsatisfactory co-operation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with my Office.

Just two days ago, the President of the UN Security Council on behalf of the Council issued a statement reminding all relevant States, and Yugoslavia first of all, to co-operate fully with the ICTY. It was a result of the Report of the President of the ICTY, Judge Claude Jorda, to the Security Council regarding non-compliance of Yugoslavia with its international

The Presidential statement of the Security Council stresses the obligation of Yugoslavia to comply with the requests of the Tribunal for arrest and transfer of indictees, to make witnesses available and to assist in ongoing investigations. I would like to underline the paragraph of the statement which "insists that dialogue or lack of dialogue between the Tribunal and the
Governments must not be used by the States as an excuse for failure to discharge their obligations to co-operate fully with the Tribunal as required by the UN Security Council Resolutions".

My statement today is triggered by the fact that the Yugoslav Foreign Minister and President of the National Council for Co-operation, Mr. G. Svilanovic refused to speak to me yesterday exactly on the issues of co-operation. So much for a dialogue. Instead, as reported by the media and if it is reported correctly, Minister Svilanovic stated that the Tribunal is "a stone on the neck
of Yugoslavia", that "co-operation with Prosecution was never at the lower level", also that the "Prosecution betrayed the confidence of the authorities in Belgrade" and finally that "all co-operation might stop" due to the wrong assessment of the situation in Yugoslavia by the Prosecution. It is obviously not my duty to assess the situation in Yugoslavia.

I am truly disappointed by such inappropriate political statement of the person who is in charge of co-operation with the ICTY. It is also not true that my Office was asking for general access to all archives in Yugoslavia. My Prosecution teams have to meet demands of the Trial Chambers and have to duty to comply with particular schedules. We are given limited time to present the
prosecution case in each trial. The Requests for assistance and information send to the authorities in Belgrade are concrete about the documents sought, as it is for instance clear from the recent Prosecution’s application under Rule 54 bis in the Milosevic case. It is clear from this application that there are number of outstanding Requests, some of which are 20 months old. The best
results and fair results in the criminal trials of such importance as here in The Hague are only possible to achieve if best possible documents are made available in timely manner.

The difficulties faced by the Prosecution in Milosevic case with access to the documents and witnesses came to the point when it was not possible to wait any longer, while the Trial Chamber had to be informed about the problems faced by us. I want to repeat, in the limited time given by the Trial Chamber in particular case the Prosecution team must bring the most important
witnesses and most important documents before the court.

Finally, I would like to inform you that I sent yesterday a letter to the Yugoslav authorities in regard to the accused M. Milutinovic to ensure his surrender to the custody of the ICTY and his transfer to The Hague immediately upon the expiry of his term of office.

Thank you.