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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 5th May 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 5 May 1999

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 5 May 1999

Time: 11:30 a.m.


Today, Jim Landale, Spokesman for Registry and Chambers, made the following

Judge Gabrielle
Kirk McDonald, the President of the International Tribunal, will testify in
front of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Washington
on Tuesday 11 May. She will talk primarily about the Tribunal in relation to
events in Kosovo.

The following
day President McDonald will be in New York to meet with the Council for Foreign
Relations. Again discussions will revolve around the Kosovo crisis.

We should be in
a position to provide you with President McDonald’s speech to the Council
for Foreign Relations once it has been delivered. In addition, there is a revised
biography of the President also available after this.

In the Vujin contempt
of court case, the Appeals Chamber issued on 4 May a scheduling order for further
testimony by "witness D" to be heard on Monday 28 June 1999. All of
the other witnesses, including those to be called by Mr Vujin, will be heard
in the two-week period commencing Monday 30 August and ending Friday 10 September

Concerning the
Kordic and Cerkez case: On 3 May, Trial Chamber III issued an order scheduling
a hearing on motions that had been filed pursuant to Rule 95 of the Tribunal’s
Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Rule 95 stipulates that, "No evidence
shall be admissible if obtained by methods which cast substantial doubt on its
reliability or if its admission is antithetical to, and would seriously damage,
the integrity of the proceedings."
The original motion filed on 22
January by Kordic’s defence had sought to "suppress and exclude
from admission as evidence all material obtained in a search conducted on 23
September 1998"
. The hearing has been set for 31 May.

In the Kvocka
and Others case: On 29 April, following the "Prosecutor’s Notice
of failure to obtain documents"
, and pursuant to Article 29 of the
Statute, Trial Chamber III requested the Republika Srpska to "provide
such assistance as it is able to the Prosecution to obtain the documents…"
In addition, the Trial Chamber ordered the Prosecution to report whether
or not the documents had been produced at a status conference scheduled for
3 June 1999.

Landale indicated
that copies of the relevant documents would be available after the briefing.



Mr Graham Blewitt, Deputy Prosecutor, said he had a few brief matters to raise:

He first announced
that the Prosecutor’s new Spokesman, Paul Risley, had travelled to the
Balkans today. Blewitt explained that he would be visiting Tirana and Skopje
in order to assist the press in the area.

He then went on
to say that Justice Arbour had travelled to Paris today in order to meet with
government ministers to raise a number of matters, including the initiative
that all outstanding arrest warrants be executed. He said that the Prosecutor
believed strongly that this would send a positive deterrent signal to Kosovo.
Furthermore, the Prosecutor hoped that arrests on sealed indictments would take
place as this would also send a particularly strong signal to Kosovo. Justice
Arbour would also be talking in Paris about increased access to information
held by the government that could be relevant to her investigators.

Lastly, Blewitt
announced that on Friday, Justice Arbour and himself would be traveling to Sarajevo.
Blewitt said he could not give any more information since it involved operational
matters. He went on to say that on Sunday they would be leaving Sarajevo for
the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) where they would pursue the
Kosovo investigations. Finally Blewitt said that he and the Prosecutor would
be back in The Hague on Wednesday 12 May 1999.



Asked if he
could comment on the rumours that Justice Arbour would be leaving the Tribunal,
Blewitt replied that he assumed that these rumours were based on Ray Bonner’s
article in the New York Times. He said that it was the Office of the Prosecutor’s
(OTP) view that the article was without foundation and that the topic was
not discussed during lunch with the American officials. He added that the
Prosecutor had not even discussed this with her own government, let alone
with other governments.

Asked if Arbour
would raise with the French government the Order issued for certain witnesses
to appear to give testimony (in the Blaskic trial) and, given that there had
been obtacles in the past, had these problems been solved, Blewitt replied
that he was not certain if this would be on the Prosecutor’s agenda and
that she would mostly push the two initiatives he had mentioned before, as
well as other matters. He added that discussions were always ongoing and that
he had no reason to believe that the witnesses would not give evidence as

Asked what
kind of evidence had been received since the announcement some weeks ago that
the OTP was not receiving the information it was hoping for, Blewitt replied
that since then the OTP had received a lot more, but that they would continue
to urge for further information.

Asked if it
was hard to get this kind of information, Blewitt replied that it was traditional
that this sort of information was not released by governments because they
gathered it for their own tactical and strategic reasons. He added that it
was not easy to hand over this type of information to a prosecutor of an international
tribunal. He said that there was a conflict between the OTP’s desire
for information and the countries’ own purposes, but that governments
were trying to work with the OTP to come to a compromise. He said that the
OTP would never have everything, but if the information was sufficient they
would be satisfied.

Asked for the
Prosecutor’s programme in FYROM, Blewitt said that the final programme
was not ready yet, but that the OTP had opened an office in FYROM and that
it was the first time that there were investigations there. He added that
it was standard practice to meet with the relevant government officials.

Asked what
the response had been to the request to execute all the outstanding arrest
warrants, Blewitt replied that there had been general agreement with the proposition
and the fact that it would have a deterrent effect.

Blewitt was
asked if the OTP distinguished between petitions presented to it since the
people who had handed over the Serb petition last Monday were not allowed
into the hallway as opposed to the Radical Party petition. He replied that
there was no difference in approach. He explained that when the Radical Party
handed over its petition the NATO airstrikes had not yet begun and they did
not foresee any difficulties in receiving it. Since then it had become apparent
that this could be turning into a regular event and the OTP did not want to
be seen accepting petitions all the time. Blewitt said that it would be future
policy not to accept any more petitions and that OTP realized that accepting
the Radical Party petition may have been a mistake.

Asked if he
wanted to comment on the petition, Blewitt replied that it merely represented
a wish list of individuals. He added that it did not serve as anything new
to the OTP and that it served no evidentiary purpose.

Asked if the
OTP was investigating NATO’s actions, Blewitt replied that the OTP was
satisfied that it had jurisdiction over the 19 NATO members, but that the
OTP never commented on investigations. He said that the only exception had
been made last year when they announced investigations into the Kosovo situation.
Blewitt also said that he would not comment on the allegations that NATO was
committing war crimes but would say that Justice Arbour had reminded NATO-member
states of their obligations to comply with the Geneva Conventions and that
she had received reassurances that they were, which she had accepted in the
absence of evidence to the contrary.

Asked if Blewitt
was aware of rumours that high ranking NATO officials refused to arrest indictees
while the NATO bombings were on going in order not to cause any unrest in
the Republika Srpska, Blewitt replied that he had not received any information
that this was NATO’s policy.