29-09-1999 Press Briefing
ICTY Weekly Press Briefing
Date: 29 September 1999
Time: 11.30 a.m.
REGISTRY AND CHAMBERS
Jim Landale, Spokesman for Registry and Chambers, made the following announcements:
Firstly, I would like to draw your attention to a letter sent by
President Gabrielle Kirk McDonald to the President of the Security Council on 27 September
1999, outlining the results of her meeting with the Croatian Justice Minister, Dr Zvonimir
Separovic, in The Hague on 15 September and clarifying some of the characterizations of
the meeting contained in a letter sent by Minister Separovic to the President of the
Security Council on 22 September. Copies will be available afterwards.
And I quote: "In his letter, Dr. Separovic refers to a meeting
that he and other Croatian representatives had with me on 15 September 1999. He states
that at that meeting the matter of the transfer of Mr Mladen Naletilic was resolved to the
satisfaction of the Tribunals President and Prosecutor. Moreover, Dr
Separovic further states that the issues relating to Operations Flash and
Storm, regarding which I found the Republic of Croatia to be in non-compliance
in my letter of 25 August, are on the verge of being resolved. As these and
other characterizations contained in Dr Separovics letter are at variance with my
understanding of our discussion, I would like to put the record straight on these matters.
I would also note that the Prosecutor did not attend the meeting and that I have not
discussed the meeting with her.
Regarding the transfer of Mr Naletilic, in our meeting Dr Separovic
stated that the Government of the Republic of Croatia was fully committed to transferring
Mr Naletilic immediately and unconditionally. However, the Croatian delegation informed me
that there were additional judicial proceedings that might have to take place under
Croatian law and that they were uncertain as to when Mr Naletilic would actually be
transferred. They did inform me that the Croatian Government would vigorously oppose any
and all attempts by Mr Naletilic to delay his transfer to the International Tribunal and
assured me that the Republic of Croatia would keep the International Tribunal fully
informed of all developments in this regard. While I welcome the Rebublic of
Croatias assurance of its commitment to the immediate and unconditional transfer of
Mr Naletilic, I must point out that until the transfer actually takes place the Republic
of Croatia continues to be in non-compliance with its obligations under the Statute of the
Dr Separovic and I also discussed Croatias non-compliance
relating to Operations Flash and Storm. During the course of our
discussions, the Republic of Croatia informed me that it intended to propose an amendment
to the International Tribunals Rules of Procedure and Evidence (Rules),
which in its view would address this situation. However, I should note that at no point
did I agree with Dr Separovics statement that it was unfortunate that
the Rules contained or did not contain any particular provision or procedure. I welcome
this proposal, as I welcome all proposals from Member States regarding possible
improvements to the International Tribunals Rules, and I will request that the
International Tribunals Judges consider any such proposal in due course. At this
point, the International Tribunal has not received any proposal from the Republic of
Croatia regarding an amendment to the Rules, much less agreed to its adoption. Therefore,
it is not appropriate to speak of a resolution of the Republic of
Croatias non-compliance in this regard.
I am hopeful that this will clarify the record with respect to my
findings of non-compliance by the Republic of Croatia, as outlined in my letter to the
Security Council of 25 August 1999."
On other matters, most of you will be aware that the further initial
appearance of Dragan Kolundzija has been postponed again.
Counsel for Kolundzjia, Mr Vucicevic, was present yesterday, however,
in light of his submission that he had not conferred with Kolundzija regarding his plea to
the amended indictment the further initial appearance has been rescheduled to take place
this afternoon at 2.30 p.m.
The Trial Chamber also said that it was not satisfied with the state of
affairs regarding Counsel's absence the day before yesterday and has thus reported the
matter to the Registrar. Mr Vucicevic has also been issued with a warning under Rule 46 A
of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, namely misconduct of counsel.
Finally, we have the appellate briefs in Aleksovski case for those that
OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR
Paul Risley, Spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), made the
Today we are releasing a statement by the Prosecutor, Madame Carla Del
Ponte, regarding the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed in Kosovo. This is
a policy paper that was presented this past weekend by Chief of Prosecutions James Stewart
to pertinent international authorities in Kosovo. In summary, this statement makes clear
the position of the Prosecutor in carrying out her mandate in Kosovo.
The Primary focus of the OTP must be on the investigation and
prosecution of the five leaders of the FRY and Serbia who have already been indicted.
Investigative resources must also be applied in relation to other high
level civilian police or military leaders of whichever party to the conflict who may be
held responsible for crimes committed during the armed conflict in Kosovo.
The OTP may investigate and prosecute other individuals on a case by
case basis, who may have committed particularly heinous or notorious crimes during the
course of the armed conflict, including perpetrators of sexual violence in relation to
armed conflict in Kosovo.
The investigation and prosecution of offences which may fall outside
the scope of the jurisdiction of the Tribunal is properly the responsibility of UNMIK
through CivPol and the newly formed civilian police in Kosovo, assisted by KFOR. The OTP
will assist these international and local authorities in the investigation and prosecution
of individuals who may have committed criminal acts including crimes committed during the
course of armed conflict in Kosovo but whose cases the OTP considers outside of our
jurisdiction or prosecution strategy.
Recently, KFOR arrested eight individuals for war crimes committed.
These individuals will be prosecuted by UN authorities in Kosovo with the assistance
provided by the OTP, underscoring the strategy outlined today.
Finally, tomorrow, the Prosecutor, Madame Carla Del Ponte, will meet
with Director Louis Freeh of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to discuss the
work of the FBI forensic team that recently completed its work in Kosovo and ongoing
Tribunal-FBI cooperation. The Prosecutor and Director Freeh will meet with journalists
tomorrow evening at the conclusion of their meeting at approximately 6:00 p.m., to take
your questions regarding Director Freehs visit to the Tribunal.
Asked for the Prosecutors reasons for issuing her statement,
Risley replied that the OSCE had organized a seminar in Kosovo over the weekend and that
the thoughts presented in the statement were those presented at the seminar by James
Stewart, Chief of Prosecutions. Risley added that the statement was helpful in
establishing the jurisdiction and limits of the UN mandate in Kosovo.
Asked whether the nine individuals arrested in Kosovo over the
weekend would be charged in Kosovo with the assistance of the OTP, Risley confirmed this
to be the intention of the OTP. He added that over past months, other people had been
arrested and detained by KFOR and the UN police, for war crimes committed, however, this
was the largest group of individuals apprehended at the same time.
Asked whether the situation in Kosovo could be seen as a change in
attitude by the Tribunal due to lessons learned from Bosnia, in which the Tribunal focused
on small fish rather than big fish, Risley replied that former
Prosecutor Louise Arbour made the Tribunals intention to investigate and prosecute
the most senior individuals responsible of crimes committed very clear. He added that, if
a change could be seen in Kosovo, from the work done by the Tribunal in Croatia and
Bosnia, it would be as Prosecutor Arbour had said, evidence that the Tribunal was a
more mature organisation in regards to Kosovo the having the ability to enter the
scenes of crimes and having the ability to declare its prosecuturial strategy quickly. In
Croatia and Bosnia, the credibility of the (domestic) courts was still a matter worth of
scrutiny, he continued. In Kosovo the judicial process was being undertaken under aegis of
the United Nations and international community, therefore, the Tribunal was prepared to
proceed with prosecutions within the international and UN systems, and was confident that
the international authorities would be able to proceed with the prosecution of individuals
accused of war crimes committed in Kosovo.
Asked for his view on an article in the German newspaper
Stern stating that General Talic and SFOR had had contacts for several months
prior to his apprehension, and that SFOR was unaware that Talic was on a sealed
indictment, Risley replied that he was unfamiliar with what SFOR would or would not have
known at this time. He added that it was the prerogative of the OTP to determine when to
inform pertinent authorities as to the existence of a sealed indictment. Decisions on
apprehension of persons on closed indictments were then taken by the arresting authority,
dependent upon a number of issues, namely, security. The purpose of a sealed indictment
was to determine the best possible time and place for apprehension, he concluded.
Asked whether the Albanians accused of throwing the grenade in the
market place in Kosovo Polje would be tried locally, Risley replied that the OTP
considered the state of armed conflict to be in suspension within Kosovo therefore
preserving the Tribunals jurisdiction, should the Tribunal see fit to use it concerning
ongoing acts of crime or violence. In several specific circumstances, for example, the
murder of 14 Serb farmers in early July, the Tribunal chose to assist KFOR and the
international authorities in investigations of ongoing criminal acts in case these might
be connected to armed conflict. Risley added that yesterdays crime would be
investigated first by KFOR and that OTP would be happy to assist to ensure that this did
not indicate the presence of continuing armed conflict, he concluded.
Asked to explain the delay in giving the information of Talics
sealed indictment to SFOR, Risley replied that he did not indicate that there was any
delay. Risley confirmed that in this instance this might have been the decision of SFOR to
not apprehend immediately (for which they had good reasons for choosing not to do so) or
that it might have been the decision of OTP not to have provided the information to SFOR.
If the OTP had reason to believe that Talic was to visit Austria, then they might not have
provided this information to SFOR, looking instead for the safest and most effective way
to apprehend the suspect.
Asked when the judges would chose a new President, Jim Landale
replied that the Judges would normally take this decision during their next plenary
session. He added that this should be sometime in mid-November.