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Press Conference by Prosecutor Carla del Ponte 19 July 2004

Press Release . Communiqué de presse

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


The Hague, 19 July 2004



Please find below the full text of the statement made by the Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, to the Press on 19 July 2004.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you know, Goran Hadzic, former president of the so-called Republika Srpska Krajina, was indicted last week, his indictment being confirmed by a judge on 4 June 2004.

On Tuesday 13 July at 9h30, we handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade the indictment against Goran Hadzic, accompanied by an arrest warrant, both documents being under seal. We asked the authorities to act with all due diligence and within 72 hours. Indeed, Goran Hadzic had been located in his villa in Novi Sad. All information pertaining to his location were
given to the authorities.

The same day, at 11h30, a copy of this indictment was also transmitted to the Embassy of Serbia and Montenegro in The Hague, according to our usual practice.

At 12.38 that same day, Mr. Hadzic left his house in Novi Sad. He came back 45 minutes later, at 13h18, and spent the rest of the afternoon with his family at his home. At 16h29, he left by car, having taken a bag with him. At 18h50, a driver brought back the car to the house. He has not returned to this house since that day. My office has evidence and photographs of those events,
that could be produced to the relevant authorities.

That same day, at 15h30, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs transmitted to the Belgrade District Court the indictment and the arrest warrant, which was received by that court after working hours.

The following day, Wednesday 14 July, at 9 hour the President of the Belgrade District Court assigned an investigative judge to validate the arrest warrant that was then transmitted to the Serbian MUP. As I indicated, by then, the indictee had left his house. In fact, Goran Hadzic had fled 17 hours before the police was officially required by the judiciary to arrest him.

On Thursday 15 July, the police reported to the judge that the accused could not be found at his current address and that his whereabouts were unknown. That day, information was leaked to the press and information pertaining to the sealed indictment against Goran Hadzic appeared in the Belgrade newspaper InterNacional.

On Friday 16 July, at 9h30, in response to our request, the Belgrade judge informed us that no information on the current whereabouts of the accused was available.

At 10 hour, we submitted to the Chambers a motion to lift the Order for Non-disclosure on the indictment and the arrest warrant. That day, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro informed me by a letter that he had received no advice of any action taken by the competent authorities.

That afternoon, in conformity with the Chamber’s Order, the indictment was made public. Indeed, it had become obvious by then that there was no more ground to keep it sealed in order to facilitate an arrest, since the accused was aware of its existence and had gone hiding.

The events of last week constitute the second time since the beginning of the year, when we actually can see for ourselves indictees, located by my Office, fleeing in a hurry just hours after the Belgrade authorities had been requested to act upon arrest warrants.

To date, I am sorry to have to report that there is one more ICTY fugitive, bringing the total number of accused at large to 22. Most of them are within the territory of Serbia and Montenegro.

This new failure by the Belgrade Authorities to actually cooperate with us surprised me particularly, as not even 10 days ago, Serbian President Boris Tadic in his first presidential speech, said "the cooperation with The Hague Tribunal is a priority of our foreign and domestic policy, since it proves our commitment to European values and represents a basic prerequisite of all
European and Euro-Atlantic integrations".

The same day, Serbia-Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic indicated that "every postponement in cooperation with the ICTY will move away Serbia and Montenegro from Europe".

Foreign minister Vuk Draskovic added "Our obligations toward The Hague court are something that must not be bargained with, they must be followed through. We don't want to be an isolated island in the sea of European democracies. All the excuses have been long spent".

Ten days ago Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus also emphasized that "there would be soon strong evidence of Serbian co-operation with the Hague Tribunal ". "We are aware that the Tribunal is not satisfied with our co-operation. We are prepared to undertake serious steps and measures in order to improve this co-operation….It is true that the next two months are decisive
and that we will have to provide reliable information on the location of ICTY indictees and begin implementing the law."

Yesterday 18 July, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said that the cooperation with the Hague Tribunal was "the issue of all issues’ and that no major issue concerning the state’s status can be resolved until this issue is resolved.

Those statements renewed our hopes that Serbia-Montenegro would immediately take concrete actions to cooperate with our requests.

Belgrade is now facing a choice:

- either, it puts its actions where its mouth is, and proceeds immediately with the arrest of Mr Hadzic and his transfer to The Hague.

- or, Belgrade’s promises remain empty. I would then have no choice but to apply again under Rule 7 bis of the Rules of procedure and evidence of the Tribunal, that is to say to request the ICTY President to notify the UN Security Council of Serbia and Montenegro's failure to comply with its obligation under Article 29 of the Statute. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that such
a situation will be avoided and that, very soon, in the next hours, the authorities of Serbia and Montenegro will give us sincere signs of their good will, and put concrete actions behind their recent encouraging oral commitments.


The Press Conference can be viewed with Real Player here.