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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 4th Aug 1999

ICTY Press Briefing - 4 August 1999

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

ICTY Weekly
Press Briefing

Date: 4 August 1999

Time: 2:00 p.m.


Jim Landale, Spokesman for the Registry and Chambers made the following announcements:

To begin, two
points from the Foca indictment. First, a reminder that the initial appearance
of Radomir Kovac will take place at 5pm in Courtroom I. (Trial chamber II.)

Second, on 30
July, Judge Lal Chand Vohrah issued an order granting the Prosecutor leave to
withdraw the indictment against Dragan Gagovic, who, as you all know, died earlier
this year.

Also on 30 July,
the Appeals Chamber issued its scheduling order for the Aleksovski Appeal. The
orders are as follows:

The Appellants’
briefs and authorities shall be filed by 24 September 1999;
The Respondents’
briefs and authorities shall be filed within 30 days of the filing of the
Appellants’ briefs, at the latest by 25 October 1999;
The Appellants
may file briefs in reply within 15 days after the filing of the Respondents’
briefs, at the latest by 10 November 1999.

Also on 30 July
in the ‘Kupreskic and others’ case, Trial Chamber II denied a motion
from four of the accused for provisional release. The Trial Chamber was satisfied
that exceptional circumstances existed for at least two of the accused. However,
in coming to their decision, the Trial Chamber noted the refusal of the authorities
of Bosnia and Herzegovina to sign a document to accept the security requirements
necessary to allow such a provisional release. They also noted a letter from
the Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which he
informed the Tribunal that, "on the basis of prior consultation with
the Federal Ministry of the Interior, it will not be possible for the federal
organs to guarantee the re-arrest and return of the indictees, should they attempt
to go into hiding while in the territory of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina".

This is the first time that a motion for provisional release has been denied
for this reason.

Also, copies are
being made of the Defendant’s Appellate Brief in the Furundzija Appeal.
However, it is a very lengthy document and copying will take some time. In the
meantime we have copies of the table of contents for those who are interested.

Also, for your
interest we’ve come up with some figures for the Blaskic trial. If the
entire trial hearings are condensed into court days, then we can see that the
trial lasted 174 full court days, which is eight and half months. During this
time 158 witnesses were heard, which is almost one witness a day.

Finally, just
to remind you that the courts are in recess from tomorrow until 30 August and
that in fact today’s hearings will be the last public hearings



Graham Blewitt, Deputy Prosecutor had no announcements to make.



Asked for
his opinion on an article in a Croatian paper which stated that the Croatian
Government would now not expect the accused Martinovic ("Stela")
to serve eight years prior to his surrender to The Hague, Blewitt replied
that, according to the letter the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) had received
from the Justice Minister on Friday, "Stela" would not be kept
in Croatia to serve his eight year sentence prior to being surrendered.
Blewitt said that he saw this as the Croatian Government withdrawing from
its most recent position. However, he added that the Prosecutor had made
it clear that because "Stela" was on the same indictment as Tuta,
both accused should stand trial together. Therefore delay of the trial of
"Stela", due to Tuta’s absence before the Tribunal, would
be the fault of the Croatian authorities.

Asked to confirm
that the documents received on Monday from the Croatian Justice Minister
contained nothing relating to ‘Operation Storm’, Blewitt replied
that the OTP was in the process of reviewing the documents. Currently, however,
the indices appeared to show no ‘Operation Storm’ documentation.
The OTP would view it as non-compliance on the part of the Croatian Government
until ‘Operation Flash and Storm’ documentation was handed over
to the Tribunal. He added that the Croatian Government was maintaining that
the Tribunal had no jurisdiction over ‘Operation Flash and Storm’.
Blewitt added that it was not for Croatia to determine whether the OTP had
the jurisdiction to investigate.

Asked about
the statement made by the Minister of Justice on Saturday stating that Croatia
would not deliver documents to the Tribunal concerning ‘Storm’
regardless of any Tribunal ruling in that regard, Blewitt noted that the
position of the Prosecutor was that she would not participate in any proceeding
before a Chamber on this subject unless the Croatian Government agreed to
abide by any decision of a Judge or a Trial Chamber.

Asked whether
or not the President had contacted the Security Council on the subject of
Croatian non-compliance, Blewitt and Landale replied that as far as they
knew she had not yet done so, as the President was absent from the Tribunal.

Asked whether
the reason Croatia would not hand over documents to the Tribunal was for
reasons of national security, Blewitt responded that national security had
been raised as a potential reason, however it was a secondary issue and
was an issue that had not been reached as yet. He added that at this point
the only opposition raised was that the Croatian authorities continued to
contest that ‘Storm and Flash’ fell within the Tribunal’s

Asked about
the rumours that Carla Del Ponte had been proposed as a candidate for the
position of Prosecutor, Blewitt confirmed that he had heard the rumours.
He added that from the rumours, her candidacy appeared strong, however that
this was a matter for the Security Council to decide on.

Asked what
jurisdiction the Tribunal had in the matter of the 14 Serbs killed in Gracko,
Blewitt replied that the position of the OTP was that the armed conflict
had not finished. He added that there was indeed a cessation in the hostilities,
however they could erupt again. The view of the OTP was that they were ‘dormant’,
therefore the OTP had jurisdiction on this matter. He added the OTP were
alert to the possibility that the KLA had begun a bout of ethnic cleansing
in the guise of revenge. If this were true it would fall within the jurisdiction
of the Tribunal, he added.

Asked whether
the figures quoted by UN Special Representative for the Secretary-General
for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo Bernard Kouchner of 11,000 bodies
in Kosovo corresponded to the Tribunal’s figures, Blewitt replied that
these figures were not from an official Tribunal source. He added that it
was too premature to give figures as investigations were still ongoing.
It was a matter of seeing how many people were killed and distinguishing
between those who had died in combat and those who had died due to criminal

The OTP would
not be releasing figures at this stage, however some may be given in an
amended, extended indictment or in a future indictment.

Asked about
the arrests in Foca and the indictees who remained at large in Foca, Blewitt
responded that the OTP would like to see the remaining indictees on the
indictment tried together. He added that the stresses in terms of resources
and time in the three cases of Aleksovski, Blaskic and Kordic who had all
been indicted together, should be avoided. He concluded that he was pleased
to see SFOR take such robust action, both on public and sealed indictments
and again urged the remaining indictees to surrender voluntarily to avoid
the possibility of injuries.

Asked whether
an attorney on behalf of President Milosevic had approached the OTP, Blewitt
responded that no such approach had been made.