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ICTY Weekly Press Briefing - 15 July 2009

Date:  15.07.2009
Time: 12:00
Registry and Chambers:

Nerma Jelačić, Spokesperson for Registry and Chambers, made the following statement:
The President of the Tribunal, Judge Patrick Robinson, today began a three-day visit to Belgrade. This is his first official visit to Serbia since he became the President. During the trip the President will have extended meetings with Presidents and judges of the War Crimes Chamber and the Supreme Court of Serbia as well as the country’s Minister of Justice, National Council for Cooperation with the Tribunal, War Crimes Prosecutor and OSCE mission in Serbia. During the visit the President will acquaint himself with Serbia’s progress in prosecuting war crimes and local judiciary’s needs for capacity building.

A delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross today concluded a three-day inspection of the Tribunal’s Detention Unit. The inspection was a part of a regular programme of announced and unannounced visits paid by the ICRC to the Tribunal’s Detention Unit. In May 1995 an agreement between the ICTY and ICRC, formalized in the exchange of letters between the then ICTY President, Antonio Cassese, and the ICRC President, Cornelio Samaruga, appointed ICRC as the inspection authority for the ICTY Detention Unit. ICTY prides itself on running a detention unit that meets the highest international standards and fully respects the rights and wellbeing of all detainees.

As for the activities in the Tribunal’s courtrooms:

The judgement in the case of Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić has been scheduled to be rendered on Monday, 20 July at 14:15 in courtroom III. Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić, two former Bosnian Serb paramilitaries, are accused of murder, torture and extermination committed against the Bosnian Muslims in eastern Bosnian town of Višegrad during the 1992-1995 conflict. The Trial began on 9 July 2008 and closing arguments were heard on 19 and 20 May 2009. The Prosecution has asked for both Accused to be sentenced to spend the remainder of their lives incarcerated while the Defence asked for them to be acquitted on all charges.

Onto provisional release issues:

Yesterday, the Appeals Chamber granted Vladimir Lazarević’s request for a prolongation of his provisional release, extending it until 5 August 2009. In reaching its Decision, the Appeals Chamber took into account the medical evidence presented in support of the request and in particular the acute phase of the Accused’s condition and the fact that it is not recommended that he travels by plane in his current state. The Appeals Chamber has ordered the Registrar to appoint an independent medical expert to evaluate the developments of Lazarević’s condition. The medical expert is to file a report by 1 August 2009, on the basis of which the period of provisional release could be reassessed. Terms and conditions remain the same as those set out in the previous Decision and include 24-hour surveillance.

Last Friday, Franko Simatović was granted provisional release during the summer recess. Simatović is to be released as soon as practicable, on or after 23 July and is to return to the UNDU on or before 20 August 2009. The Trial Chamber has yet to decide on Jovica Stanišić’s request to be also granted temporary provisional release during the court recess, which he filed yesterday afternoon.

As to this and next week’s court schedule:

The trial of Stanišić and Simatović resumes this afternoon at 14:15 in courtroom II.

Also this afternoon, the trial for Popović and others will resume with the examination of Sreten Milošević, who will testify in Drago Nikolić’s defence case, following a subpoena issued by the Trial Chamber on Friday 3 July.

A status conference will be held tomorrow before the Appeals Chamber in the case of Boškoski and Tarčulovski at 14:30 in courtroom II.

Appeals hearing in the Dragomir Milošević case will be held on Tuesday 21 July from 9:00 to 17:45 in courtroom III.

The trials of Momćilo Perišić, Vlastimir Ðorđević, Prlić and others as well as Gotovina and others will continue this week and next as scheduled.

Office of the Prosecutor:

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


Asked whether there were any new developments since Judge Bonomy encouraged Prosecution to cut down the case or reduce the evidence it wishes to present, Olga Kavran responded that there were no further developments at the moment. The Prosecution is not intending to withdraw any particular count of the indictment, contrary to what has been suggested in some media. In the process of amending the indictment, the Prosecution already took the initiative to streamline the case and reduced the number of municipalities. Of course, it will be up to the judges to determine whether there will be any further discussion on the reduction of the case.

Asked whether the Tribunal will initiate new proceedings in relation to crimes committed in Kosovo, Olga Kavran responded that all investigations were completed in 2004 in compliance with the Tribunal’s completion strategy. Asked who is responsible for investigating war crimes committed in Kosovo, Olga Kavran responded that it is up to the local judiciaries.

Asked about the activities of the Tribunal during the summer recess, Nerma Jelačić responded that no hearings will be held from 27 July until 14 August but that the Tribunal will remain open and the institution will continue carrying out day-to-day activities.

Asked about the Popović Defence request to reopen its case in order to present new evidence and request exclusion of expert reports, in reference to the destruction of Srebrenica evidence collected from mass graves, Olga Kavran responded that the Prosecution will file its written response and the Judges will make the decision. She added that certain artifacts were disposed of at the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006. The vast majority of them came from mass graves, were deteriorating and presented a risk to health. None of these items have been exhibited in the course of the trial against Popović et al. but some of them were referred to in expert reports filed as part of the prosecution case. All these expert reports were completed by mid-2001 and the experts worked with the original artifacts when they were compiling their reports.

Asked at what stage the Popović trial was at the moment, Nerma Jelačić repeated that the trial is resuming this afternoon with Drago Nikolić’s defence witness Sreten Milošević. The Trial Chamber still has to rule on a number of motions filed by the Defence. Final briefs are to be filed by Thursday, 30 July 2009 and closing arguments are scheduled to be held on Wednesday, 2 September 2009.