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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 7th Apr 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 7 April 1999

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 7 April 1999

Time: 11:30 a.m.


Today, Jim Landale, the ICTY Spokesman, made the following announcements:

Hopefully you
will have all received the copies of the press release that we sent out yesterday
on the order by Trial Chamber I for the appearance of a number of witnesses
in the Blaskic case before closing arguments (press
release 393). Copies of that press release are available for those who want

Also as a reminder,
the Kordic and Cerkez trial will begin next Monday, 12 April in Courtroom III.
We have copies of the Prosecution pre-trial brief in that case and also in the
Simic and Others case available for you after this.

Finally, on Monday
5 April, the President of the Tribunal, Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, received
the American Bar Association’s Leadership Award at the Supreme Court in
Washington. We have copies of the speech President McDonald gave at the event
for those interested.



Asked if there
would be any legal obstacles if indictments had been issued against the people
called to appear as witnesses, Mr Blewitt, Deputy Prosecutor, referred to
the Tadic case. A number of defence witnesses had been afraid of being arrested
and had therefore testified by video link or had been given safe passage by
order of the Trial Chamber. He added that this indicated that no one had immunity
and that if a person came to the Tribunal and was the subject of an indictment,
he could possibly be arrested.

Asked whether
the Tribunal had received any response to the order to appear as witnesses,
Landale answered that he was not aware of any response or problems having
been raised as a result of this order.

Asked if this
was the first time that witnesses were ordered to appear, Landale answered
that this had also occurred in the Kupreskic case, but that then the witnesses
were kept confidential.

Asked what
the legal consequence would be if a witness did not comply with the order
to appear, Landale answered that he was not aware of any problems and that
in the past, General Morillon had indicated his willingness to appear before
the Tribunal as a witness, if asked.

Asked what
the investigators were doing to investigate war crimes committed in Kosovo,
Blewitt replied that he could not go beyond what the Prosecutor had said last
week that there were people dispatched to the region to work with others in
the field in order to gather evidence and documents. Blewitt said that they
were working to identify key witnesses among refugees who had seen atrocities
being committed in Kosovo. He added that separate requests had been made to
the United States, Great Britain, NATO and other organisations in order to
receive evidence but said that more could be done.

Asked how many
people were in the field, Blewitt answered that the Prosecutor had said that
she did not want to divulge the presence in the field, but he did say that
people from other teams were being put on the Kosovo team in order to provide

Asked what
type of crimes were being committed, Blewitt answered that there had been
reports of mass executions, summary executions, allegations of systematic
rape, looting, theft of personal property, destruction of villages, identity
papers taken to prevent return and deportations. He added that all of this
together amounts to persecution as a crime against humanity and that all of
these alleged crimes fell within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, but that
the material needed to be analysed before it could be established as being

Asked if there
was any political suggestion to pressure the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP)
into issuing and indictment against Milosevic or against any other high political
official in Yugoslavia, Blewitt answered that there had been no pressure,
but that discussions were ongoing with countries involved in the NATO exercise
about the possibilities. He added that an indictment was evidence driven and
that if the evidence was there that was going to support a charge, the OTP
would not hesitate to bring an indictment and they would have no regard to
the position of political leaders.

Asked if there
had been a reaction to the announcement of Arkan being indicted, Blewitt replied
that the FRY embassy had ceased to have any dealings with the OTP and that
for two weeks now, they had refused to accept any documents. He added that
the OTP had contact with Mr. Raznjatovic’s lawyer who had indicated that
he was going to file an affadavit with the Registry.

Asked if making
Arkan’s indictment public had the intended result, Blewitt answered that
this was impossible to answer and that only time would tell.

Asked what
it meant for arrest warrants (in relation to Arkan) if the FRY Embassy had
ceased dealings with the ICTY, Blewitt answered that the arrest warrant had
been forwarded to Mr Raznjatovic’s lawyer who had acknowledged the existence
of the warrant.

Asked what
had prompted the FRY Embassy’s refusal, Blewitt answered that he assumed
it had been the NATO airstrikes, but that there had been no official comment
from the Embassy. He added that the OTP had been told about the refusal to
receive documents from the ICTY over the phone.

Asked how the
contact with Arkan’s lawyer had occurred, Blewitt answered that the lawyer
had contacted the OTP last Thursday.

Asked if NATO
as a source of evidence as well as monitors in the field was different compared
to the past, Blewitt answered that it was a variation of the theme and that,
for example, UNPROFOR had provided evidence as well. Regarding evidence being
provided by NATO, Blewitt added that it would be wrong to say the OTP had
not received any evidence, but that it had not received what it expected,
having heard those public statements coming from the United States, the United
Kingdom and NATO.

Asked if there
was a possibility of holding people criminally responsible for unfounded propaganda,
Blewitt answered that in itself this was not possible, but that you had to
look at the purpose behind the propaganda. An example of this was seen in
Rwanda. He added that if propaganda was used for example to incite genocide,
that could constitute a criminal offence.