Registry and Chambers:
Nerma Jelačić, Spokesperson for Registry and Chambers, made the following statement:
The trial of Radovan Karadžić resumed yesterday afternoon with the start of the Prosecution case. Hearings will be held three days per week for the remainder of April and until further order.
The trial of Vojislav Šešelj was adjourned on 30 March until further notice. Only one Chamber witness remains to be heard, and this is expected to take place in early May, after which the Trial Chamber will move to Rule 98bis procedure.
Next Tuesday 20 April, Vojislav Šešelj will make his initial appearance in the second contempt proceeding initiated against him by the Tribunal. The hearing will take place at 9:00 in Courtroom I. Šešelj is charged with having disclosed information on 11 protected witnesses, including their real names, occupations and places of residence, in violation of the Trial Chamber’s orders in a book he authored.
In the case of Prlić and others, the Ćorić defence rested its case on 1 April. The defence team of the last of six accused, Berislav Pušić, announced on 7 April that they will not call any witnesses. The next trial date will be announced in due course.
The trial of Momčilo Perisic adjourned yesterday for the rest of this week. The trial will resume on 3 May 2010. Timings and location will be confirmed in due course.
Hearings in the trial of Gotovina and others resume this afternoon in order to hear further Chamber witnesses. A total of seven Chamber witnesses are expected to be heard.
The trials of Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin, Vlastimir Đorđević, Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović and Zdravko Tolimir continue this week and next as scheduled.
The Tribunal has been busy outside of the courtrooms too.
This week the Tribunal welcomed three outreach visits from the former Yugoslavia. On Monday, the outreach programme hosted 19 students of law from Slovenia who were introduced to the work and achievements of the Tribunal. Furthermore, 15 journalists from the Western Balkans paid a study visit to the Tribunal earlier this week. And finally, Outreach is also hosting a group of Croatian war crimes trial monitors and journalists who are paying a study visit to the Tribunal. They have met with representatives from major branches of the ICTY to discuss issues ranging from investigations to media coverage of war crimes. The three-day visit has been organised by Dokumenta, a non governmental organisation from Croatia.
And finally, Registrar John Hocking is attending a three day meeting of Registrars of appellate, regional and international courts beginning today in Ottawa. Hosted by the Supreme Court of Canada, the meeting will address specific institutional and operational challenges and participating Registrars will exchange best practices on issues such as organisational structure and procedure, security of infrastructure and documents, translation and interpretation services, witness and victims protection programmes and enforcement of sentences. Registrar Hocking will address the meeting on Legal Aid and Defence Support at the ICTY.
Office of the Prosecutor:
Olga Kavran, Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor, made no statement.
A journalist pointed out that Karadžić mentioned the local butcher in Sanski Most that carried out killings at Manjača was prepared to deny that he was ever there. Asked if he was on the list of witnesses Karadžić plans to call, Jelačić said that at this stage of the proceedings only the list of Prosecution witnesses is available and that the defence would be required to submit its 65ter list of witness after the close of the prosecution case.
Referring to a meeting between the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) and a visiting group of Croatian journalists and NGO representatives and some media reports published in Croatia this morning, a visiting journalist who took part in these discussions asked OTP to clarify whether or not a letter was sent to Croatia in relation to the Mercep case and to further clarify the situation regarding that particular investigative file.
Kavran stated that, as was said yesterday, no letter was recently sent to the State Prosecutor's Office in Croatia regarding the Mercep file. Kavran clarified that what was sent to the Prosecutor in Croatia was done around four years ago, at the beginning of 2006 when the investigative files related to Tomislav Mercep and others in relation to crimes committed in the region of Slavonia during the war were transferred.
The OTP had conducted many investigations over the years since its establishment and gathered evidence against a number of persons suspected of committing serious violations of international humanitarian law. Due to resource limitations, some cases had to be given priority over others, which led to some investigations being halted, added Kavran. After the OTP stopped issuing new indictments at the end of 2004, as part of the completion strategy adopted by the UN, a number of unfinished case files containing evidence against suspected individuals remained in its possession. The OTP transferred these files to local prosecutors and the local judicial authorities bare the responsibility to bring such investigations to a conclusion based on the evidence provided by the ICTY, and to issue indictments where appropriate. A total of 17 such files were transferred to the Prosecutor’s offices in the former Yugoslavia: two to Croatia, one to Serbia and the remainder to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
To return to the issue in question: the file in relation to the crimes committed in Slavonija and Tomislav Mercep and others was transferred at the beginning of 2006. Based on part of that material a war crimes case known as "Marino selo" was conducted in Croatia. Kavran said that the journalists would have to address any other questions relating to this and other investigative files and any cases stemming from them, to the local Prosecutor's Office in Croatia.
Kavran added that she would like to restate something that Prosecutor Brammertz had said on a number of occasions: the ICTY’s Office of the Prosecutor closely cooperates with the prosecution services in the states of the former Yugoslavia in a true partnership. Given our interdependence and mutually reinforcing work, our success is intrinsically linked. Furthermore, the ultimate success of the Tribunal will also depend on the ability of national courts to successfully conduct their own war crimes prosecutions.
A journalist said that the Prosecutor’s office in Croatia claimed that they had no obligation to inform the OTP of what steps they were taking based on the material sent and asked whether this was an accurate statement and whether the Croatian Prosecutor had provided any information. Kavran responded that it was true that the Croatian State Prosecutor had no duty to inform the OTP on these cases and that there was a collegial exchange of information. Kavran added that the duty to inform existed only in cases referred to regional judiciaries in accordance with Rule 11bis, the cases where an indictment had been issued by the Tribunal.
A journalist asked how it was possible that the OTP had given these investigation files to Croatia and just yesterday Croatia’s State Prosecutor’s office said the case did not exist. He also asked why there was such high trust in the independence of the Croatian Prosecutor’s office and judiciary. Kavran answered that there was no legal mechanism through which the OTP could interfere in the way local war crimes cases were conducted in Croatia. Kavran further stated that the OTP pointed out several times that it was cooperating with judiciaries in the region and that this cooperation did not only include the transfer of investigative files to the region but also responses to the requests for assistance from the region. Kavran added that in its bi-annual report submitted to the UN Security Council, the OTP submitted information on how many such requests had been received and processed. In addition, three liaison Prosecutors, one from Croatia, one from Bosnia and Herzegovina and one from Serbia, are currently based here in The Hague to provide a very important link between the local Prosecutor's Offices and the OTP.
Asked if there was any concern or motion planned regarding the lengthy cross examination of the first witness by Karadžić, Kavran said that it would not be appropriate to comment on the basis of the first witness and it would be up to the Chamber to determine the parameters in the courtroom. Jelačić added that Judge Kwon said yesterday that Karadžić’s estimated time appeared to be neither responsible or realistic and warned the accused not to expect to be granted all the time he suggests he needs.
Asked for the name of the Chamber witness scheduled to testify this afternoon in the Gotovina and others case, Jelačić said that the Chambers witness would be Stjepan Žinić.