Legacy website of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Since the ICTY’s closure on 31 December 2017, the Mechanism maintains this website as part of its mission to preserve and promote the legacy of the UN International Criminal Tribunals.

 Visit the Mechanism's website.

ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 21 January 2009

Date:  21.01.2009
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

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

Good afternoon,

Welcome back to all to a busy week before the Tribunal after the winter recess.

The President of the Tribunal, Judge Patrick Robinson, welcomes the General Assembly’s approval of the supplementary budget of the International Tribunal over the winter recess. This endorsement provides the ICTY with the required resources - including staffing - to carry out its workload through 2009.

In addition, the General Assembly approved a revised methodology for calculating ICTR and ICTY Judge’s pensions based on years of service rather than term of office. This results in increased pensions for Judges. Thus their pensions will finally be on par with the pensions provided to ICJ Judges, in line with the relevant provision in the Tribunal’s Statute.

I have one key decision to highlight. The President of the Tribunal Judge Patrick Robinson on Monday granted Pavle Strugar’s request for early release to come in effect on February 20. The former General of the Yugoslav People’s Army convicted of crimes in the Croatian coastal town of Dubrovnik in 1991 and sentenced to seven and a half years’ imprisonment, will have been in the Tribunal’s detention facility for more than two-thirds of his sentence by this date. The President considered several factors when evaluating Strugar’s application including the gravity of crimes for which he was convicted, previous practice and the prisoner’s demonstration of rehabilitation, as well as Strugar’s “deteriorating medical condition”. The Tribunal’s Statute allows for convicted persons to apply for pardon, commutation of sentence or early release and states that the President of the Tribunal will determine whether to grant such requests.

An update on applications for provisional releases: Milan Gvero, Radivoje Miletić Milan Milutinović, Milivoj Petković, Valentin Čorić, Bruno Stojić, Berislav Pušić, Ivan Čermak and Momcilo Perišić have all returned in Tribunal’s custody having been away at differing points over the recess. Veselin Šljivančanin has returned, as scheduled, into the Detention Unit in time for this week’s appeals hearings. And, finally, the request of Astrit Haraqia and Bajrush Morina for provisional release was denied on Tuesday and both remain in the UNDU.

In key courtroom events, Radovan Karadžić is expected to file his reply to proposed amended indictment by January 28. The prosecution will then have until February 4 to file their reply.

Onto the courtroom schedule: The trial of Vlastimir Đorđević, a former senior Serbian police official charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes against Kosovo Albanian civilians in 1999, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, 27 January 2009 at 9:00 in Courtroom I.    A pre-trial hearing for the case will be held on Monday at 3:30 p.m. in courtroom I.

The Appeals hearing for former JNA army officers Mile Mrkšić and Veselin Šlyvančanin both convicted of war crimes committed in Ovčara, Croatia, in 1991, began this morning and will continue on Friday at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom I.
The hearings in the case of Vojislav Šešelj and Momčilo Perišić have been canceled for the rest of the week. The trials of Prlić and others, Popović and others, Gotovina and others, Lukić and others continue as scheduled. 

And finally,

As many of you are already aware, Mr. Hans Holthuis, the Tribunal's Registrar since 2001, left office at the end of December, following the expiration of his fixed-term contract.

Under the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure and Evidence in the absence of a Registrar, the Deputy Registrar assumes the role of Acting Registrar.  Mr. John Hocking will carry out this role until the recruitment of a successor.

Having served for eight years, Mr. Holthuis was one of the longest serving Principals and the Tribunal warmly acknowledges his dedication and contribution to the organisation.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Olga Kavran, Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor, made no statement.


Referring to the translation and disclosure of the supporting materials related to the motion to amend the indictment against Radovan Karadžić, a journalist asked if the Tribunal’s translation service was in this case a shared responsibility between Registry and OTP and if the translation problem has been resolved. Jelačić stated that language services in general were within the realms of the Tribunal’s Registry. Jelačić said with this particular case, the status of translation and disclosure and reasons for its length were given by an OTP representative at this week’s status conference as well as the number of OTP staff working on the issue.

Kavran added there were other issues as well. She added that one has to look back at Chambers orders related to the fact that Mr Karadžić was requiring materials to be disclosed in a certain format because he is a self-represented accused. So, this case does differ to a certain extent from other cases, particularly when it comes to requirements in terms of format, such as written BCS transcripts of recordings of witness testimony and so on.

Kavran added to also please keep in mind that seven trials were on-going and the resources Tribunal wide were stretched to the limit. She said even though the Karadžić case is extremely important, it cannot take precedence over all the other cases; therefore, resources could only be used in such a way as to not effect other proceedings adversely. Kavran stated that the Tribunal was doing everything possible to do things as efficiently as possible. Kavran offered to look up the exact number discussed in court and decisions as well the Chambers had ruled on and in the meantime in terms of in what format documents have to provide to Karadzic.

Asked what was the motivation for the Šešelj case to be cancelled for the remainder of the week and if there was a written decision on the matter, Jelačić answered that it was scheduling decision made by the judges and that they would announce as soon possible when the trial would resume again.

Asked what the status was for the Perišić case, Jelačić said that the case had finished for today and hearings were called off for the remainder of the week. Jelačić said that she would have to look up the details as the trial had just finished at the time of the briefing.

Asked if the election of the two ICTY judges Van den Wyngaert and Shahabuddeen to serve on ICC would have any consequences on the completion strategy if they serve on both Tribunals, Jelačić said that the two judges have been elected commencing March 2009 to serve as judges in the International Criminal Court. The states from which the elected judge come, will nominate replacement judges. Jelačić stated this was the procedure which was expected to be followed in this case.


The regular supporting materials were provided within the time frame provided by the rules, however, without transcripts of audio recordings of witness testimony. Pursuant to the Judges decision of 25 November 2008, the OTP had to provide a transcript in B/C/S of substantial segments of proceedings in other cases (namely witness testimony). The corresponding audio recordings of the proceedings had already been provided to the accused. As the Judges stated in their decision, though it is not a requirement in cases where the accused is represented by defence counsel, in this case the OTP was required to provide transcripts in addition to the audio tapes due to the fact that Mr. Karadzic represents himself.

In order to fulfil this obligation, at times, the OTP had up to 20 language staff working on this. The material was disclosed in three batches in January, concluding on the 14th: the first batch that was about 1.900 pages; the second batch was almost 2.000 pages and the third roughly 700 pages.