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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 25th Aug 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 25 August 1999

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 25 August 1999

Time: 11:30 p.m.


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

First in the Tadic
case, the sentencing hearing on the additional counts that he was found guilty
on in the judgement of the Appeals Chamber that was scheduled for Monday has
been cancelled by the Appeals Chamber. A scheduling order from 23 August 1999
reaffirmed that "the Parties are to file by 25 August 1999 written submissions
on the issue as to whether the Appeals Chamber should remit to a Trial Chamber,
and, if so, to which Trial Chamber, the question of sentencing the Appellant
in respect of the counts on which the Appellant has been found guilty…."

So, pending a
decision by the Appeals Chamber on the submissions that it receives from the
parties, a Trial Chamber could be directed to hold a sentencing hearing. If
this happens, a date for that sentencing hearing will be announced in the near
future. If, however, it is decided that the Appeals Chamber is to hold the sentencing
hearing, this will most likely take place in the next two weeks.

Only after a decision
on the sentencing on the additional counts will the Appeals Chamber determine
the accused’s appeal against the sentencing judgement handed down by Trial
Chamber II, which consisted of Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald (Presiding), Judge
Stephen and Judge Vohrah. We will, of course, keep you posted of any developments.

Next, the resumption
of the contempt of court proceedings in the Tadic trial will resume on Monday
afternoon at 2.30 pm in Courtroom I.

And, the Jelisic
trial for genocide will start on Monday at two o’clock in Courtroom III.

Finally, issue
number 6 of the Judicial Bulletin is now available. We have copies of that and
all the other documents I have mentioned for those interested.

Justice Louise
Arbour, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia (ICTY), greeted the assembled press corps and said that this
was likely to be her last press briefing at the Tribunal. She added that she
would remain in office until 14 September 1999, however, that she would be on
leave from the middle of next week. She confirmed that if any matter, (either
press or Tribunal) required her attendance before this time, she would of course
be available.

The Prosecutor
confirmed that she had today and yesterday held meetings with Prosecutor designee,
Carla Del Ponte at the Tribunal. She described their discussions as excellent
and she added that she was happy to highlight not only the appointment of Carla
Del Ponte, but also the appointment process itself which she described as having
produced excellent results. She added that in early June when her departure
date was announced, alarmist signals emerged indicating the possibility of a
dramatically long transition period and difficulty in generating a consensus
on the issue of her replacement. She noted that the selection process and that
the way in which the appointment of Mrs. Del Ponte had been handled testified
to the unfailing commitment of the Secretary-General and of the Security Council.
The process was taken very seriously, she concluded. The success of the process
in itself should dispel the remaining sentiment that the Tribunal might be construed
as a fragile institution.

In her view, the
Tribunal, in general and in particular the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) was
in excellent shape. She added that the Tribunal was poised to continue doing
some of its best work, both with respect to the OTP in investigations and prosecutions
and in courtroom proceedings. She believed that the deployment of the investigative
efforts in Kosovo demonstrated that the Tribunal was now a mature institution
that had demonstrated its capacity to work in a real time environment. She felt
very positive in handing over her office to new leadership, she said.

She added that
the Tribunal needed to continue to fine-tune the proceedings and operations
in future. It would be unthinkable for such a novel institution as the Tribunal
to become settled in its ways. She could see that the Tribunal needed to seek
and value the advice given by many of its observers. What she was more concerned
about was the suggestion that the Tribunal required a major ‘overhaul’
to correct a ‘deficiency’, which in her view was sometimes exaggerated,
this being the so-called slowness of the procedures. Firstly, the Tribunal ought
to be rigorous in identifying problems appropriately before examining corrective
measures to be taken. She believed that the structure conceived by the Security
Council and developed by the judges in their conception of the Rules of Procedure
and Evidence was fundamentally sound.

The structure
was consistent with the major international instruments with respect to human
rights and had developed a procedural environment that, in her view, was correct,
sound and respectful of the interests of the Prosecution, the accused and the
general interest of justice. She believed that, as the Tribunal engaged in a
process of attempting to perform more expeditiously, it ought to be careful
not to jeopardize some of the values reflected in the current system.

Almost two weeks
ago, the Prosecutor visited the Tribunal offices in Kigali and Arusha, where
she had an exceptionally positive visit, including discussions with members
of the Government of Rwanda. She added that she was pleasantly surprised by
a more supportive and positive attitude towards the work of the Tribunal generally
and especially towards the work of the OTP. This she said was due largely to
the arrest operations conducted since the summer of 1997 and regularly thereafter,
targeting high ranking officials and obtaining the support of many African governments
including Kenya early on and subsequently those of many west African countries.
She added that the signals had been the most positive received in her three
years attending to the activities of the Tribunal for Rwanda. The question of
the speed of proceedings was raised constantly, and again she reiterated that
the Tribunal must seek ways to collectively improve performance and to meet
the expectations of the population. In Rwanda, the remaining challenge with
respect of the OTP was not only efforts made to depict genocide as a major criminal
enterprise of conspiracy and to bring these cases to completion, but to complete
all the remaining challenging parts of the investigative agenda.

In connection
with the fact that next week marks the 60th anniversary of the initiation
by Hitler of World War Two, the Prosecutor was asked for her opinion of the
meaning of the work of the Tribunal, what she believed had changed in the last
60 years, and whether she believed any progress had been made. She replied that
there had been more progress made in the last five years than in the proceeding
50 with respect to the enforcement of International Humanitarian law. In the
last five years the Tribunal had brought to the forefront the necessity to control
the worst fallout of modern armed conflict and warfare. Whether this was sufficiently
progressive to elevate the recourse to armed conflict as a way of settling a
dispute in the international forum, she believed this to be for historians to
answer. She believed that the Tribunal had shown enough determination for these
efforts to be sustained and the permanent court be set in place. We should be
entitled to see in the longer term a deterrent effect that would alleviate the
suffering not only associated with war, but associated with the commission of
atrocities during a time of war, a time when civilian populations were at their
utmost vulnerability, when their protectors had either collapsed or were antagonistic
to their own well being in the case of internal armed conflict. To think that
the Tribunals had now launched proceedings which were supported by not only
the Security Council but by the international community, made it very clear
that the culture of impunity of the mighty was no longer part of the landscape
of the next millenium.

Asked whether
she was satisfied with the success of the OTP, Arbour replied that she felt
that the Prosecution was successful if justice was done. That did not mean that
you had to be the winner of any or all factual and legal propositions that were
advanced, particularly in an environment in which these factual and legal propositions
were very novel and were advanced on the basis of an analysis of a body of law
that were still not fully developed. For instance, an unsuccessful attempt in
maintaining something that was clearly a crime against humanity was not also
a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, must not be seen as a failing of the
prosecution. In general terms what is seen in the courtrooms of both Tribunals
was never meant to be a vindication of the Prosecution, but a demonstration
of the capacity of the international community to do justice in a just, fair
transparent, public and acceptable way. She stated that she believed that judged
against these conditions, the two institutions had been very successful and
as good as any model of criminal justice you would want to turn to in any of
the major functioning sophisticated democracies.

With the numbers
of arrests having multiplied by five since her arrival, the Prosecutor was asked
whether it was a major disappointment that the most famous names were still
at large. She replied on many occasions that it would be a great service to
justice, in particular to victims of the kinds of atrocities that the Tribunal
was exposing, if in fact we stayed away from a characterisation of success solely
based on name recognition. In both Tribunals there were people who might not
have names known in general public opinion, names as startling as Karadzic or
Milosevic, but whose position and commission of crime deserved serious attention.
This did not mean to suggest that she would not be looking forward to pressing
for the arrest of all the indictees. There was significance to demonstrating
in concrete terms that no one would ever be outside the reach of the law. The
small fish - big fish debate had not been heard for a least a year. It had been
noted that people were being indicted and arrested at the level of responsibility
that showed that the momentum was well on its way and that everyone should feel
very seriously exposed. She added that she might have liked to see a speedier
rate of arrest than she had seen, however there were not a lot of grounds for
complaint as to the commitment of SFOF which was now solidly established.

Asked whether
she was confident that some day Karadzic and Milosevic would be detained by
SFOR, she replied that she could not say publicly why she was confident and
that she would not expose strategies the OTP had initiated or what kind of discussion
it was having with others to explore various avenues to bring everyone to justice.
It would be counter productive to be explicit but she believed that as you observed
the process there was no doubt that the indictments were being targeted at a
higher level. Only occasionally were older indictments revisited when opportunities
presented themselves. There was a clear pattern of accused being brought into
custody that were of a rank that two years ago might have led them to believe
that they were outside the reach of any international effort. She was confident
on those grounds that the momentum was moving in the right direction with the
right resources.

Asked in her experience
how cooperation with certain countries had improved, she replied that this process
had its low points and the lowest one was when formal action had to be taken;
when the Tribunal felt that the lack of cooperation in crippling the investigative
efforts. With regards to the rest, she would not issue periodic reports with
respect to the performance of either the usual willing partners or of those
who had in the past been less inclined to be supportive of the Tribunal. In
general terms, we had no reason not to be confident that the Security Council
will in some way by realistic means bring compliance, she said. Like any relationship,
we had on-going information providers, who sometimes become distracted on other
issues and might be less supportive of a particular initiative the Tribunal
was pursuing. This could be and was managed in the normal course of business,
she added.

Asked about the
contents of the meeting with Mrs. Del Ponte, Louise Arbour replied that she
would not divulge the contents of their discussion, only that they were very
productive in the short time at their disposal, several matters were reviewed
and a number of informal discussions were had. She assured Del Ponte that she
would be available for further meetings if necessary. It was a very fruitful
and productive visit and everyone was looking forward to her imminent arrival,
she said.

Asked what advice
she had for Mrs. Del Ponte, the Prosecutor replied that any advice she might
have would be communicated in private. She added that she could offer her own
perception on many issues, but no advice to a particularly competent and professional

Asked whether
document IT-99-35 was an indictment for the Croatian President, Landale replied
that IT-99-35 was a miscellaneous file for cases and correspondence and documents
that did not necessarily relate to anything specific. He added that various
comments had been taken out of context in a certain Croatian wire service which
had caused some excitement over the issue.

Asked how many
ongoing cases related to genocide and why it was so difficult to get the evidence
in these cases, Landale replied that the Jelisic case was the only genocide
case actually in the trial process at this moment. Jelisic had pleaded guilty
to all other counts on the original indictment but not guilty to the one genocide
charge. For that reason the trial for that one count would begin on Monday,
he said.

Asked why it was
so difficult to prove genocide, Arbour replied that she did not believe it was
difficult to prove, however, that it had many very specific elements, including
the intention to eliminate a group in whole or in part. Some intent could be
argued to be inferred by the magnitude of the extermination efforts. In other
cases an assessment would be made of what kind of evidence could be tendered,
for example statements made by the accused and or his co- conspirators. In the
Akayesu case in Rwanda, virtually all the cases had genocide counts in them.
There was not a single case left where the charge was simply crimes against
humanity. As the cases moved through trial, the Tribunal could assess what would
be required to prove genocide. Sometimes that element was provable by words
spoken by the accused or by literature and propaganda emanating from the accused
and or his co conspirators that showed very explicitly the purpose of the extermination
mission. In other cases that purpose was not expressly stated and circumstantial
evidence was required to infer that the intention was in fact genocidal.

Asked whether
she had discussed sealed indictments with Carla Del Ponte, Arbour replied that
amongst other Prosecution strategies in place in the OTP, sealed indictments
had been discussed.

On the question
of her view of the role of the media in the coverage of the Tribunal and the
two conflicts, Arbour replied that the role of the media in covering the tribunal
was critical beyond anything one would expect in a national criminal justice
system for the reason that the fundamental values of criminal justice that were
essential to its credibility was traditionally local and public. Certainly in
the common law world the roots of the jury system were based on the idea of
the trial in the market place where the community came together in a criminal
trial to reaffirm its commitment to shared values and to see that justice was
done in an acceptable manner, that the system was not worse behaved than the
offenders themselves. One of the great challenges of international criminal
justice was to preserve these characteristics in the market place of Kigali
or Belgrade. To perform this, the Tribunal relied on the modern means of the
media and through particularly a free and independent press. The role of an
educated and fair press was absolutely fundamental. What role it played in the
conflict spoke for itself. It was now a feature of the documentation of armed
conflict that the media is now more interested, not only in unfolding warfare
but also the atrocities of human rights taking place.

Asked what she
would say to outgoing NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and NATO SACEUR General
Wesley Clark if she saw them today, she replied that she would say thank you
and goodbye.

The briefing was
reconvened for the Prosecutor, Justice Louise Arbour to make the following announcement
on the arrest of General Momir Talic:

"On 12 March
1999, the Prosecutor, Justice Louise Arbour, signed an indictment charging General
Momir Talic, the Chief of Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska, together with
Radislav Brdjanin, with a crime against humanity, namely persecutions on political,
racial or religious grounds. The indictment, which was confirmed by Judge Rodrigues
on 14 March 1999, alleges that during 1992 the accused, as members of the Crisis
Staff (Krizni Stab) of the Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK), ordered, implemented,
supported and assisted a plan designed to expel the Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian
Croat and other non-Serb populations from the municipalities designated as part
of the ARK, including the Prijedor municipality of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On 6 July 1999,
the accused Radislav Br|anin was arrested by SFOR troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina
and was transferred to The Hague where he is awaiting trial.

Acting on information
that the accused Momir Talic was travelling to Austria to attend a conference,
on 24 August 1999 the Prosecutor arranged for a warrant of arrest directed to
the Republic of Austria to be delivered to the Austrian authorities. Acting
on this warrant, Momir Talic was arrested today and taken into custody in Vienna
by those authorities. It is expected that the accused will appear before the
local courts in Austria before his eventual surrender to the Tribunal in the
near future.

The Prosecutor
wishes to express her gratitude to the Austrian authorities for acting promptly
on the warrant of arrest and for their very professional actions in apprehending
Momir Talic. It is anticipated that the accused Momir Talic and Radislav Brdjanin
will be tried together in a joint trial".