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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 24th Mar 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 24 March 1999

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 24 March 1999

Time: 11:30 a.m.


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

In the Bosanski
Samac case, on 19 March Trial Chamber III issued an order disposing of a number
of pre-trial motions filed by the Prosecution and the Defence. Among these is
the decision relating to Stevan Todorovic that, "the Motion to strike
aliases from the indictment is granted and the Prosecution shall prepare a corrected
version of the indictment for use in these proceedings."

In the Furundzija
case, the Defence filed a motion on 19 March "for Extension of Time
to File Appellate Brief"
until 21 May 1999. In this they cite the fact
that the Appeals Chamber had suspended the briefing schedule for appeal until
the Bureau of the Tribunal had ruled on the Defendant’s Post Trial Application
to the Bureau. This application was denied by the Bureau on 10 March.

Also on 19 March
in the Omarska case, Trial Chamber III granted in part the "Prosecutor’s
Motion for Judicial Notice of Adjudicated Facts"
, filed on 11 January
1999. In coming to their decision, the Trial Chamber considered that "it
would be in the interest of judicial economy and would promote an expeditious
trial for the Trial Chamber to take judicial notice of the adjudicated facts
upon which the parties are agreed"
. Adjudicated facts are facts that
have been established in other cases and that relate to matters in the current

Finally, on 22
March, Trial Chamber III denied a request for the provisional release of the
accused in the Kordic and Cerkez case.

As usual, copies
of all these documents are available to those who want them.



The Deputy Prosecutor,
Mr Graham Blewitt, made the following statement in response to anticipated media
questions concerning the New York Times article on 21 March 1999 titled "War
Crimes Panel finds Croat Army "Cleansed" Serbs":

The first point
to be made concerning this article, is that the Prosecutor regrets very much
that it makes reference to, and indeed quotes from, documents which appear to
be confidential internal documents of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). The
Prosecutor does not comment on the existence or progress of any investigation,
and this has been the policy of the Office from its inception. In the same way
the Prosecutor does not announce or confirm that particular persons are the
subject of an investigation, in fact we go out of our way to insure that persons
are not named until publicly indicted. To do otherwise would be unfair to such
persons if they are not ultimately indicted. They would have a cloud hanging
over their head with no way to address the injustice. The fact that this article
mentions that named persons are under investigation is very regrettable.

The second point
to be made is that the Prosecutor is gravely concerned about the means by which
this information was communicated to the New York Times and is conducting an
investigation into the matter.

The third point
to be made is that the documents in question, apart from being several months
old, merely represent expressions of opinion, arguments and hypotheses from
various staff members of the OTP during the investigative process. It is important
to understand that the documents do not represent in any way the concluded decisions
of the Prosecutor. I repeat, the documents are merely work product and do not
contain the official position of the Office of the Prosecutor.

The Prosecutor
encourages vigorous debate within her Office, regarding the strengths or weaknesses
of the evidence and legal theories which may be applicable to the facts and
the evidence. Staff are encouraged to identify the broadest possible basis for
any indictment or prosecution based on the available evidence, and then to test
this basis by critical analysis and debate. The documents in question do nothing
more than represent that process in action. The final position on the viability
of any charge against any person is the sole decision of the Prosecutor, who
if satisfied that the available evidence is sufficient, then presents an indictment
to a judge for confirmation.

The next point
to be made is that the public release of this information will have no effect
on the Prosecutor’s decision whether to proceed further in this case, nor
on the timing of any indictment. Whether the motive for making the material
available to the media was to force the Prosecutor’s hand to issue the
indictment or to bring it forward at an earlier time, or whether it was done
to ensure that she would not issue any indictment at all, the end result is
that the release of the information will have no such effect. The Prosecutor
will do what her mandate from the Security Council requires independently and
objectively and will not allow herself to be influenced or manipulated by outside

In conclusion,
and noting some more recent media reports arising from the publication of the
New York Times article, it should be remembered that under the Statute of the
Tribunal, State co-operation is not conditional upon any State being satisfied
with the Prosecutor’s decisions to commence an investigation or to bring
an indictment. The Prosecutor expects that Croatia will continue to fulfil all
its international obligations, including the surrender of all indicted persons
to The Hague.



Asked if the
OTP had any indication where the leak started, Blewitt answered that it had
clearly started from within the OTP.

Asked if the
New York Times article could have been a result of speculation, Blewitt answered
that he did not think that was the case. He added that Justice Arbour, the
Chief Prosecutor, had spoken to the journalist from the New York Times and
that it was clear he had been exposed to the information mentioned in the

Asked about
the consequences for the person who leaked the information, Blewitt replied
that he did not want to go into that. He said that the OTP would strengthen
the existing procedures to prevent this from happening again, however he added
that you could not stop people from talking. He added that there was a general
feeling of betrayal in the OTP since the leaking had concerned on-going work.

Asked whether
the Prosecutor had held discussions with the journalist before of after the
article had been published, Blewitt answered that Justice Arbour and the journalist
spoke last Friday, before the article was published on Sunday.

Asked about
the nature of the documents, Blewitt answered that these were purely internal
work documents which reflected the views of staff in the office and that these
were not official documents.

Asked about
a Croatian television report that had suggested that the person who had leaked
the information had already left the ICTY, Blewitt answered that he was not
aware of this report and that he did not want to speculate on whether this
person had left or not.

Asked if the
visit to the Tribunal yesterday by the Croatian Ambassador was related to
the New York Times article, Blewitt answered that the contents of the discussions
were confidential but confirmed that the issue had arisen.