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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 27th Jan 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 27 January 1999

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 27 January 1999

Time: 11:30 a.m.


Jim Landale, the
ICTY Spokesman, began today’s briefing by making the following comments
on some remarks attributed to Mr Nenad Petrusic, the defence counsel for General
Krstic, that were reported by the Tanjug news agency yesterday, 26 January 1999.

According to the
report, Petrusic asserts that "a medical commission of the Hague-based
war crimes Tribunal examined General Krstic only after the injuries he had sustained
during his arrest by SFOR had healed"

He alleges that
injuries sustained by General Krstic during his arrest "were visible
to the eye on 7 December of last year, during General Krstic’s initial
appearance before the Tribunal’s panel of judges"
. He states that
the "examination was performed only 20 days later, when the bruises
and swellings on the General’s legs and arms had healed,"
that this was why the medical report made no mention of them.

The reality is
somewhat different. For the record:

General Krstic
was committed into the custody of the Tribunal on 3rd December 1998,
arriving at the Tribunal’s Detention Unit at 1745 hours. Before his committal,
officials at the Detention Unit were told that he might require medical attention,
so instead of transporting him from the airport directly to the Detention Unit,
he was taken first to a local private hospital. There he had a complete medical
check up, including a cardiac examination.

The following
morning, General Krstic was thoroughly examined by the in-house medical officer
at the Detention Unit and commenced the routine medical processing procedure.
This included a full blood test, a chest X-ray and other normal medical checks.
It is at this stage of the process that, if anything appears to warrant additional
attention, further treatment is arranged with an appropriate specialist.

In General Krstic’s
case, arrangements were made for him to undergo a specialist medical examination
by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating amputees. However, when
the orthopedic surgeon arrived, General Krstic refused to see him. As a result,
the Tribunal was given no option but to made it clear that they would take no
responsibility for any consequences arising from this decision. It is also worth
noting that the specialist consultant had come to the Tribunal at short notice,
travelling a long distance and had closed down his own practice to do so.

Following this,
on 23 December, medical experts from Belgrade examined General Krstic and concluded
that there was nothing seriously wrong with his medical health.

I am also pleased
to report that General Krstic has subsequently reconsidered his decision and
has now been examined by the orthopedic surgeon.



On behalf of the
Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), Mr Graham Blewitt, the Deputy Prosecutor, informed
the press that he had no statement to make but that Kosovo remained high on
the OTP’s agenda. The diplomatic initiatives continued and the OTP remained
optimistic that progress would be made. He announced that the Prosecutor, Justice
Louise Arbour, planned to participate in a debate on Kosovo at the Council of
Europe in Strasbourg tomorrow at their invitation. The team of investigators
who were in Macedonia had arrived back in The Hague to await results from the
diplomatic efforts, said Mr Blewitt.



Asked what
Mr Blewitt’s grounds for optimism were, especially in light of the Minister
of Justice’s recent statement, which said investigations in Kosovo were
out of the question, Mr Blewitt answered that pressures had been applied in
Belgrade to change that position and Justice Arbours suggested compromise
was still being pursued. The OTP remained determined and optimistic, he said.

Asked whether
Justice Arbour had applied for a visa, Mr Blewitt confirmed that she had.

Asked whether
the OTP had had contact with the Finnish investigation team who said the bodies
might have been tampered with, Mr Blewitt replied that the Finnish team had
been in contact before they entered Kosovo but not since then. The OTP was
awaiting the teams’ findings, he said.

Asked whether
investigations had started into the Racak massacre, Mr Blewitt confirmed that
the investigations were already underway. Arrangements had been made to interview
KVM and K-DOM monitors.

Asked for
whom visas had been applied, Mr Blewitt replied that they had requested them
for the same team who went to Macedonia. He added that the Prosecutor was
scheduled to go to Africa next week for most of February.

Asked what
would happen if the visa arrived as she was about to go to Africa, Mr Blewitt
replied that the hoped that the visas would arrive before that, and if they
did she might have to change her plans.

Asked whether
anything had been heard on the deferral hearing, Mr Blewitt replied that nothing
had been heard so far. He added that the time had not yet expired.