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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 6th Jan 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 6 January 1999

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 6 January 1999

Time: 11:30 a.m.


Jim Landale, the ICTY Spokesman, began today’s briefing by making the following

Firstly, on 22
December, a Bench of three Judges of the Appeals Chamber (Judge May, presiding,
Judge Wang and Judge Hunt) granted Mr. Anto Nobilo leave to appeal against the
Trial Chamber’s Decision of 11 December 1998 to fine him for contempt of
court (see Press Release 375). The Appeals bench considered
that "...the proper interpretation of the expression "in knowing
violation" of an Order of a Chamber and the obligations imposed on counsel
(...) are matters of general importance to proceedings before the International
Tribunal or in international law generally".

Secondly, in the
Furundzija case, on 22 December 1998, the Defence counsel for the accused filed
a Notice of appeal "of the adverse Judgement and Sentence entered against
him on 10 December 1998".

Finally, at the
end of December, the ICTY budget for 1999 was approved at $ 94,103,000 for a
total of 784 posts. The breakdown is as follows:

Chambers $2,601,000;
Office of the Prosecutor $26,853,000; Registry $47,876,000; Support $16,773,000.

Also, by way of
reminder, next week the Blaskic and Kupreskic cases resume in court.



Asked whether
deferral proceedings had started or whether there had been a request for surrender
concerning the two new public indictments issued against Mladen Naletilic
and Vinko Martinovic in late December, Justice Louise Arbour, Chief Prosecutor
of the ICTY, answered that there was no need for deferral because the two
accused were on trial for domestic crimes. She added that she expected that
the arrest warrants would be executed in due course.

Asked whether
it was true that Jelisic had attempted to commit suicide last December, Landale
replied that he had checked and that there was no basis for these reports.

Asked for the
Prosecutor’s reaction to a "Le Monde" interview with Alain
Richard, French Minister of Defence where he allegedly mentioned that there
were 100 persons on the "accused list", Arbour answered that she
did not know where that number had come from and that she had never given
any indication as to the number or identities of the persons who had been
indicted under seal. She was not prepared to comment any further until she
had read the article, she added.

Asked what
the Prosecutor thought about the initiative of a group of U. S. Senators to
make a deal with Milosevic and his wife to take refuge in a third country,
Arbour replied that she did not know what kind of deal they had in mind, but
that without it being backed by a Security Council resolution, it would have
no impact on this Tribunal.

Asked if the
Prosecutor could say something about her talks with the Mr. Knezevic, Minister
of Justice for the FRY, Arbour answered that she had initiated this visit
in order to pursue her investigations into Kosovo. They had discussions on
many subjects. Regarding the JNA officers indicted for crimes allegedly committed
after the fall of Vukovar she had insisted that the arrests were effected;
the FRY should comply within 60 days with the order for deferral of the case,
and in case of non-compliance she would inform the President of the Tribunal
of the matter. She intended to do this if necessary, she stated. Regarding
access to Kosovo and whether the Prosecutor had the right to investigate,
Arbour replied that she had expressed the necessity for investigations to
proceed further and would not leave the matter as a difference of legal opinion.
She proposed legal adjudication by the Tribunal as a possible solution.

Asked about
the nervousness in Croatia regarding possible indictments against generals
and whether it was possible that someone from the Tribunal had leaked information,
Arbour responded that these reports in the media were speculative and that
she was not prepared to comment or to confirm that such indictments existed
or were imminent. However, she stressed the point that the OTP would continue
to pursue investigations in the manner that they have in the past and that
they would continue their policy to pursue the case to the highest leaders.

Asked if she
could explain the Fikret Abdic procedure under the Rules of the Road, Arbour
replied that, under the Rules of the Road, the Prosecutor informed the party
seeking the Prosecutor's opinion but did not make that opinion public. Under
the Rules of the Road, the Prosecutor agreed to provide an opinion on the
basis of a paper file (the Tribunal does not interview witnesses) submitted
by the authorities who want to prosecute a person who has allegedly committed
crimes which fall under the jurisdiction of the ICTY.This gave a guarantee
that no one could be arrested arbitrarily. The Tribunal informed the party
whether there was sufficient material for an arrest, whether it wished to
seek a deferral of the case or whether it regarded the person as a potential
witness, she said. A favourable opinion, however, did not preclude deferral
of the case at a later date, she added.

Asked why Abdic
(although at a high level) was not regarded as being interesting enough for
the Tribunal, even thought the Tribunal had always said it aimed at persons
at a high level, Arbour answered that we could not have outside decision makers
dictating the OTP’s priorities. It would not be fair to stall or delay
a case because while it was interesting to the OTP, the OTP was not yet ready.

Asked to elaborate
on Kosovo and the matter of adjudication, the Prosecutor answered that she
asked the FRY Minister of Justice if he would be satisfied with adjudication
on the difference of opinion and said that she would be prepared to trigger
that mechanism. She added that she was not prepared to stall investigations
into Kosovo while waiting for the answer to the difference in opinion on whether
there was an armed conflict in Kosovo because this could take months and including
appeal, perhaps even one year.

Asked for Mr.
Knezevic’s response, Arbour replied that he had said that he would take
it into consideration.

Asked why no
one ever said anything about Croatia denying an armed conflict in the Krajina,
Arbour answered that she was not being prevented from investigating and that,
so far, she had not been precluded access to Croatia. She did not want to
give the impression, however, that the Croatian government had been cooperative
as it had not.

Asked about
the deteriorating cooperation between Croatia and the ICTY office in Zagreb,
Arbour answered that cooperation had never been satisfactory on an investigative
level. She commented on the increasingly aggressive rhetoric in the Croatian
press and she noted that it contained many misrepresentations with very little
foundation. She suggested this might be a reaction to the Tribunal targetting
those higher up, although she said that she had never made it a secret that
she was willing to take investigations to the highest level.

Asked about
the reaction to the latest indictment, Arbour answered that it could not have
come as a surprise to Croatia. On 28 February 1997, she had asked the Croatian
authorities for information concerning the arrest of Naletilic and Martinovic,
and on 5 March she issued a formal request under Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure
and Evidence of the ICTY that the suspects were not to be released as they
were considered suspects by the Tribunal. Afterwards, reminders were sent
periodically, she said.