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Weekly Press Briefing - 26 January 2011

Date: 26.01.2011
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

Martin Petrov, Chief of the Registrar’s Office, made the following statement:

Good afternoon,

I will immediately turn to the courtroom schedule:

In the trial of Vojislav Šešelj, the Trial Chamber yesterday ordered that a Rule 98 bis hearing be held from 7 March 2010 onwards. The Accused has been granted a total of 3h30 and the Prosecution 4 hours to present their arguments. This hearing is held in accordance with the Tribunal’s rules according to which, at the close of the Prosecutor’s case and upon the request of the Accused, the Trial Chamber shall enter a judgement of acquittal on any count should it find that there is no evidence capable of supporting a conviction.

In the contempt of court case of Jelena Rasić, a Status Conference will be on held on Friday 4 February at 10:00 in Courtroom I. Jelena Rasić, former case manager of Milan Lukić’s Defence team, is charged with five counts of contempt of court for bribing witnesses into making false statements. Her Initial Appearance was held on 21 September 2010.

In the trial of Radovan Karadžić, the Prosecution yesterday began the ‘hostage component’ of its case. Please note that the Sarajevo component has not concluded yet and that more witnesses are expected to testify in the coming weeks on the events in Sarajevo. 

In the case of Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin, Prosecution called its last witness on Monday. However, the Prosecution has not yet rested its case as there are some outstanding matters to be resolved. Hearings will resume tomorrow at 9:00 in Courtroom III.

The trial of Zdravko Tolimir will resume on Monday 31 January, at 14:15 in Courtroom III.

Hearings in the trial of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović continue this week and next as scheduled. The Trial Chamber yesterday decided to continue to sit three days per week throughout the remainder of the Prosecution case.

I will conclude with an update on the latest activities of the War Crimes Justice Project:

Last Friday, approximately 2,000 pages of transcripts in local languages were delivered to the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. The provision of transcripts in the local languages is expected to assist legal practitioners in the region in accessing and utilising testimony given before the ICTY.

Until October 2010, the transcripts were only available in English and French. Since the launch of the War Crimes Justice Project in September 2010, the ICTY has delivered 4,500 pages of public trial transcripts to the authorities in Croatia, Serbia and BiH. The Tribunal aims to produce a minimum of 60,000 transcript pages in local languages as part of the Project.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Frederick Swinnen, member of the Prosecutor’s Immediate Office, made no statement.


A journalist asked whether the Tribunal could comment on the document that was recently leaked by Wikileaks on an alleged meeting between the former Commander of the Detention Unit, Tim McFadden, and American Embassy representatives in 2003, at which McFadden allegedly gave a detailed overview of Slobodan Milošević’s life in the Detention Unit, including his health problems. Martin Petrov responded that he was aware of reports of the leaked cable involving the former Commanding Officer of the UN Detention Unit, Tim McFadden, and that certain media outlets had carried sensational stories based on portions of the cable.

Petrov said that the Tribunal takes any allegations of impropriety in its operations very seriously and this case is no exception. At this point, the Tribunal is unable to confirm the authenticity of the report but the matter is being looked into. A preliminary analysis of the alleged cable indicates that many of the issues raised in it were already in the public domain. In particular the ill health of Milošević, and its impact on the proceedings, was already a matter of public record, as it had been the subject of submissions in court. Similarly, details about the daily routine of ICTY detainees have been available to the public for years. A description of a detainee’s typical day at the detention unit is also routinely provided to visitors at the Tribunal.

Petrov highlighted that significant parts of the alleged cable appear to be the author’s own account and conclusions and are not necessarily attributed to Tim McFadden.

Petrov reiterated that the Tribunal is taking the matter very seriously and will continue looking into it. He stressed that the Tribunal has clear confidentiality rules, which apply to all, including and especially to ICTY staff members. Alleged breaches of confidentiality are always investigated and appropriate action taken.

Asked to comment on the mention in the leaked document of comments reportedly made by the former Registrar relating to the departure of the amici curiae and the impact of this on Milošević’s case, Martin Petrov said that at this point, he was not in a position to make any specific comment on any of the allegations in the report, until the matter had been looked into thoroughly. He added that it had not yet been confirmed whether such a meeting took place at all, who was present, what was the context, and whether the cable was in any way accurate. He recalled that the Tribunal organises regular diplomatic seminars, at which diplomats are briefed by the Tribunal’s Principals on developments in the proceedings, among other things.

Asked whether the Tribunal’s Principals provide briefings to diplomats only at Diplomatic seminars or whether they are allowed to meet diplomats on an individual basis to discuss matters related to the detainees, Petrov responded that the Tribunal’s Principals indeed meet with diplomats regularly as part of their official functions. Various issues can be discussed at such meetings, within the confines of the Tribunal’s confidentiality rules and with due regard to the independence of the Tribunal. Petrov reiterated that the Tribunal’s confidentiality rules are very clear and apply to all staff and all meetings, may they be one-on-one or public meetings.

Regarding the resolution adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on alleged organ trafficking in Kosovo, a journalist asked to comment on reports in the Serbian press that the Tribunal was in possession of reports on alleged transfer of Serbian prisoners from Kosovo to Albania as early as 2003. Frederick Swinnen responded that the Office of the Prosecutor has taken note of the important report prepared by Mr. Dick Marty and the resolution, based on the report, which was adopted yesterday by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

With regard to the recommendation that the Office of the Prosecutor fully cooperate with EULEX, Swinnen said that the OTP has provided extensive assistance to EULEX, including permissible access to documents and files in its possession. Moreover, there have been frequent contacts with EULEX whose officials have been given access to the OTP’s databases. Swinnen added that this cooperation is ongoing. Swinnen said that the OTP has cooperated closely with the Serbian authorities, in particular, the Office of the Prosecutor for War Crimes, and provided all relevant information in its possession.