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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 15th Dec 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 15 December 1999

note that this is not a verbatim transcript of the Press Briefing. It is merely
a summary.

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 15 December 1999

Time: 11:30 p.m.



Jim Landale, Spokesman for Registry and Chambers, made the following announcements:

Firstly in the
Tadic case, oral arguments on appeal against sentence have been scheduled to
take place on January 14, 2000, at 11.00 a.m. in courtroom III.

Relating to the
Aleksovski case, the hearing for the appeals on sentencing will take place on
9 February 2000 at 9.30 a.m. in courtroom III.

With regard to
the Kupreskic and Others case, the Judgement will be rendered on 14 January
2000 at 9.00 a.m.

In the Kordic
and Cerkez case, hearings are scheduled to resume on 10 January, 2000, in courtroom

In the Kunarac
and Kovac case, the trial is due to commence on 1 February, 2000, at 10 a.m.
in courtroom III.

In the Sikirica
case, the next status conference will take place on 20 March 2000. It is not
yet known whether this will be in open or closed session.

Finally, consolidated
versions of the amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence are now available
in both English and French, along with copies of a corrigendum for both languages.



Paul Risley, Spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) made the following

the Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte has returned from the Rwanda Tribunal.

During the
remainder of this week she will be meeting with the ambassadors to The Hague
of Great Britain, France and the United States.

In accordance
with her stated promise to meet with reporters 100 days into her term, the Prosecutor
will hold a press briefing on Tuesday, 21 December at 12.00.

The Prime
Minister of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, will be visiting the Tribunal tomorrow
and will meet with the Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor. It is likely that a
press opportunity or photo opportunity will be arranged with the Prosecutor
and the Prime Minister, after the conclusions of their meetings, sometime tomorrow
afternoon. More information will be available tomorrow morning.

The Prosecutor
has sent a letter to the Government of Croatia in response to a letter received
last week from Minister Separovic. The OTP will not discuss the content of the
letter at this time.

Graham Blewitt
is now available for questions.

Landale added
that Prime Minister Dodik would meet with the President and Registrar tomorrow
as well.


Asked to discuss
the contents of the letter sent from the Prosecution to the Croatian Government,
Blewitt replied that it was not appropriate to behave in the same way that
the Croatians had done by releasing the contents of letters to the media before
the other party had actually received them. He added that the OTP would allow
the Croatian Government time to receive the letter before its contents were
commented upon. He concluded by saying that he had not resigned.

Asked for a
reaction to the letter sent by Minister Separovic, Blewitt said that he was
very surprised that what he had said two weeks ago had been so misinterpreted.
He added that the Minister’s comments appeared to have been made without checking
first what he had said. The letter that was received by the OTP arrived at
the end of the day on Friday 3 December, a long time after it had been discussed
in the media.

Asked for a
comment now that President Tudjman was dead, Blewitt replied that his reaction
remained the same as it had been two weeks ago. If there was a change in government
he hoped that it would lead to better cooperation on the part of Croatia.
He added that their lack of cooperation in the past had been reported to the
Security Council, but it had still failed to change.

On the last
visit by the Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor to Zagreb, observations had
been made that Zagreb appeared to use every available opportunity to publicly
attack the Tribunal which was not really a sign of a government wishing to
cooperate with the Tribunal, Blewitt said. He added that he found the Minister’s
outburst and letter to be consistent with the approach of using the media
to criticize the Tribunal at every available opportunity, which he hoped would

Asked whether
the Prosecution had any plans to visit Croatia, Blewitt replied that they
would go on the next occasion they visited the former Yugoslavia. He added
that they planned to visit the region next year, however as the Prosecutor
planned to spent a lot of time in Arusha and Kigali next year, it would be
necessary to work out her agenda.

Asked when
they planned to return to the former Yugoslavia, Blewitt said that it would
probably be in the middle of next year.

Following press
reports yesterday from Banja Luka which quoted the Bosnian Serb authorities
as saying that the Tribunal was interrogating Bosnian Serb officers at the
beginning of this week and that an agreement had been made with the Tribunal
that these people would not be arrested by the Tribunal, Blewitt was asked
whether this reflected an improvement in cooperation with the Republika Srpska
and whether there was a possibility of officers on sealed indictments not
being arrested. Blewitt replied that there was no suggestion that people who
had been indicted were being questioned. He confirmed that there were consistent
signs that the Republika Srpska was cooperating more with the Tribunal now
than in the past.

In relation
to the interviews taking place, summons had been issued. These summons had
been served on the Government of Republika Srpska who then arranged for the
witnesses to be brought to Banja Luka to be interviewed by the investigators,
Blewitt said. This was clearly not a trap to try and arrest people. The Tribunal
had a genuine desire to interview these people as potential witnesses. Earlier
attempts were made to contact these people, who where then unwilling to cooperate,
he added. The OTP exercised its powers under the Rules to issue a summoms.
These had been given to the Government of Republika Srpska who then issued
them on those witnesses and made the practical arrangements. Those interviews
would take place this week, he concluded.

Asked how many
people were being interviewed, Blewitt replied that five or six people were
being interviewed.

Asked whether
they were all officers, Blewitt declined to answer.

Asked whether
there was ever any interest in investigating Tudjman's role in the conflict
and to indict him, Blewitt replied that, regardless of the identity of a person,
if there was evidence or allegations that they were responsible of crimes
falling within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, they would be investigated.

He added that
he would not name those people being investigated by the Tribunal although
some were of course obvious. Everyone had the right to a presumption of innocence
even those people who were deceased. Naming people as being under investigation
was inconsistent with the presumption of innocence particularly if they were
never indicted, he concluded.

Asked whether
Tudjman had been on a sealed indictment, Blewitt replied that he had not been
and that he had stated this in public before.

Asked, if a
person under a sealed indictment was to die, whether the indictment would
be disclosed, Blewitt replied that this had never happened. He added that
he saw no reason why it would not be made public. He added that the only reason
for an indictment being sealed was to enhance the Tribunal’s ability to arrest
the accused or to protect a witness. Once those conditions were removed there
should be no real reason not to make the indictment public.

Asked for a
response to yesterday’s ruling and to the ruling on genocide in the Jelisic
case, Blewitt responded that he could not give a response as far as the genocide
Judgement, as it had only been released in French. It was therefore too premature
to comment. As far as the sentence was concerned, the Prosecution had asked
for life imprisonment not withstanding the guilty plea. The court had imposed
a substantial sentence. It would be unlikely that the Prosecution would appeal
against the inadequacy of such a sentence, he concluded.

Asked about
the Prosecution’s notice of appeal on the plea of genocide, and whether the
Prosecution would still appeal, Blewitt replied that the Prosecution had filed
an intention to appeal when the oral decision was given to acquit the accused
on the charge of genocide as it was felt by the Prosecution that the court
had not taken all matters into account. Now aware of the reasons for the decision,
the OTP could not say what they would definitely do. No definite conclusion
could be made at this time.

Asked what
the deadlines were for appeal, Blewitt replied that they had 15 days from
yesterday to file a notice of appeal.

Landale added
that after that they had 90 days in which to file their appeal briefs.

Asked why a
trial date had not been given during the Krstic status conference last week
and whether that meant that some problems had occurred, Landale replied that
the last status conference had been in closed session and that there was nothing
to add.

Asked whether
the sentence of 40 years would discourage others from pleading guilty, Blewitt
replied that it was a possibility, however he cited the Erdemovic case as
possibly having the opposite effect. yet if the circumstances were right that
mitigating circumstances would prevail over other considerations as in the
Erdemovic case.

In the case
of Jelisic, the Trial Chamber had taken the view that a plea of guilty and
other mitigating circumstances were not sufficient to override his participation
in very serious crimes, Blewitt said. With the two extremes to consider, it
was up to individual accused as to what cooperation or mitigation they could
put forward to minimize their sentence. As a matter of principle, pleas of
guilty and other mitigating circumstances could be taken into account to reduce
the sentence in the context of the crimes that were committed, he concluded.

Asked what
requests the Prosecution would make of Dodik during his visit, Blewitt replied
that all requests had been made during their meetings in Banja Luka and added
that he hoped that tomorrow Dodik would give some answers to those requests.

Asked whether
this was Dodik’s first visit to the Tribunal, Blewitt replied that he believed
it was.