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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 29th Sep 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 29 September 2000

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 29 September 1999

Time: 11:30 a.m.


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 Tribunal’s 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 Separovic’s 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 Croatia’s 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 International

Dr Separovic
and I also discussed Croatia’s 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
Tribunal’s 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 Separovic’s 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 Tribunal’s Rules, and I will
request that the International Tribunal’s 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 Croatia’s non-compliance in this

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 are interested.



Paul Risley, Spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), made the following

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.

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 Freeh’s visit to the Tribunal.



Asked for
the Prosecutor’s 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

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 Tribunal’s 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 yesterday’s 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 Talic’s 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.