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Weekly Press Briefing - 19 May 2010

Date:  19.5.2010
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

Nerma Jelačić, Spokesperson for Registry and Chambers, made the following statement:

Good afternoon,

The Appeals Chamber today affirmed the conviction of Johan Tarčulovski, a former police officer of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for having ordered, planned and instigated crimes committed against ethnic Albanians during a police operation conducted on 12 August 2001 in the village of Ljuboten in the northern part of the FYROM. His sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment was upheld. The Appeals Chamber also affirmed the acquittal of Ljube Boškoski, Minister of Interior of the FYROM from May 2001 until November 2002. Johan Tarčulovski will remain in the Tribunal’s Detention Unit pending finalisation of arrangements for his transfer to the State where he will serve the rest of his sentence. More details are available in a separate press release and the summary of judgement issued earlier today.

Last Thursday, President Robinson denied Dario Kordić’s request for early release. Dario Kordić, a former leading political figure in the Bosnian Croat community, was sentenced in February 2001 to 25 years’ imprisonment for crimes committed against Bosnian Muslim civilians in the vicinity of the Lašva Valley in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under Austrian law, Kordić became eligible for conditional release after serving one-half of his prison sentence.  However, President Robinson noted that the majority of ICTY convicts do not become eligible before having served two-thirds of their sentence, and expressed the view that “the amount of time that Mr Kordić has served for his crimes does not militate in favour of his early release."

Onto the upcoming court schedule:

In the case of Ante Gotovina and others, hearings will resume on Wednesday 2 June 2010, at 14:15 in Courtroom III for the purpose of hearing new evidence presented by Prosecution.

Hearings in the trial of Vlastimir Ðorđević, Zdravko Tolimir, Radovan Karadžić, Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović as well as Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin continue this week and next as scheduled.

I would like to draw inform you that President Robinson issued a report on the Conference, "Assessing the Legacy of the ICTY", held in the Hague on 23-24 February. The report details the Conference's key findings and strategic considerations, as well as the plans pertaining to the Tribunal's legacy. Both the report and recordings of the entire Conference are now available on the Tribunal’s website.

This week, the Tribunal welcomes a group of Serbian journalists for a four-day visit. The visit has been organised by the OSCE mission to Serbia and the Tribunal’s Outreach programme. During this visit the journalists, many of whom have covered war crimes issues extensively during their careers, will discuss issues such as what constitutes good court reporting and the role of the media in promoting reconciliation in post-war societies.

Finally, please note that the Tribunal will be closed on 24 May for Whit Monday.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Olga Kavran, Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor, made the following statement:

Tomorrow, the Prosecutor will be in Madrid where he will meet with Mr. Angel Moratinos, the Foreign Minister of Spain, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union.

This meeting is the continuation of the Prosecutor's regular working meetings. Prosecutor Brammertz and Mr. Moratinos will discuss issues relevant to the work of the Office of the Prosecutor, the Tribunal's completion strategy and the cooperation of states.

A journalist raised the issue of the Prosecution’s motions in the cases of Radovan Karadžić, Jovica Stanišić & Franko Simatović and Mićo Stanišić & Stojan Župljanin to amend its 65ter exhibit lists in order to add the ‘Mladic notebooks’. The journalist asked whether analysis of material from the books written in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Srebrenica has shed new light on the Prosecution’s theory of events during this period. Kavran responded that as set out in the motion, the Prosecution is still examining this new material and it is therefore too early to answer this question. Kavran stressed that the judges have yet to rule on these motions and if and when a ruling in favour of the motions is issued, the notebooks could become exhibits and could be made available to the public.

A journalist asked whether any more could be said on the nature of the ‘Mladic notebooks’. Kavran reiterated what is set out in the Prosecution motions on this issue, namely that the notebooks refer to the period June 1991 to November 1996 and that they constitute approximately 3,500 pages of handwritten notes believed by the Office of the Prosecutor to have been written by Ratko Mladić.

A journalist asked whether any other notebooks written by Ratko Mladić had been admitted into evidence in the past. Kavran confirmed that 2 notebooks were seized during a search carried out on 4 December 2008.

On the issue of General Lazarević’s announcement in the courtroom that he was on a hunger strike, Nerma Jelacic added the following:

The Appeals Chamber on May 17 denied General Lazarević 's request for provisional release to go to Serbia and undergo an operation of the thrombotic vein of his right leg at the Military Hospital of Nis. The AC found that Lazarević failed to demonstrate why the required treatment can only be administered in Serbia.

I can confirm that prior to the Appeals Chamber decision Lazarević informed the management at the UNDU that he started a voluntary protest fast on May 12. He ended the fast two days later on May 14. Lazarević 's condition has been continuously monitored by the medical officers of the UNDU. The surgery can be performed in the Netherlands during a time frame medically acceptable given Lazarević 's condition, an option which was previously refused by Lazarević when offered by the Registry. However, Lazarevic has now consented to be treated in The Netherlands and the Registry will act accordingly.

The Registry holds the health and wellbeing of its detainees in high regard. The appeal chamber noted in its decision the Registry continuous efforts to address Lazarević 's medical concerns and has no reason to believe that this would not be ensured in the future.