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Weekly Press Briefing - 23 March 2011

The Press Briefing can be viewed on the
ICTY YouTube channel

Date: 23.3.2011
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

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

Good afternoon,

I’ll first highlight some key decisions issued recently:

Dragomir Milošević was transferred yesterday to Estonia to serve his 29-year sentence for crimes committed against civilians of Sarajevo during the second half of the 1992-1995 siege. Former Commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army, which encircled and entrapped the city of Sarajevo during the three and half year long conflict, Milošević was convicted of crimes against humanity and a violation of the law or customs of war on 12 December 2007. He was sentenced to 33 years’ imprisonment, later reduced to 29 years on appeal in November 2009.

Blagoje Simić was granted early release from a prison in the UK where he had been serving the remainder of his 15-year sentence since 27 March 2007. The Decision was issued by the President of the Tribunal confidentially on 15 February 2011 and made public on 17 March, after he was released. In keeping with UK law, Simić became eligible for early release on 11 March 2011, having served two thirds of his sentence. In his decision granting early release, President Robinson set out that whilst the gravity of Simić’s crimes was very high, the time he had served in detention and his demonstration of rehabilitation militated in favour of his release.

Former President of the Serbian Democratic party in the municipality of Bosanski Šamac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Blagoje Simić was convicted on 17 October 2003 for crimes committed against Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat and other non-Serb civilian residents of the municipalities of Bosanski Šamac and Odžak. Simić was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment, later reduced to 15 years on appeal in November 2006.

Elsewhere, in a decision issued by the Appeals Chamber on Monday 21 March, Baton Haxhiu was ordered to reimburse the Tribunal a sum of 12,122.80 Euros for his defence costs funded by legal aid at the time of his contempt of the Tribunal trial. Haxhiu, fomer editor of a Kosovo newspaper was found guilty of contempt of the Tribunal on 24 July 2008 for revealing the identity of a protected witness in an article he wrote and published. He was sentenced to a fine of 7,000 Euros. In December 2010, the Registry submitted to the Chamber that Haxhiu had the means to fully remunerate counsel and was therefore ineligible for legal aid. Haxhiu has been ordered to repay this sum within thirty days of the order, or within 60 days if paid in two instalments.

In the trial of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, on 11 March the Trial Chamber granted Franko Simatović provisional release from 15 March until 4 April in order to facilitate his Defence preparations. This period follows the completion of the Prosecution case and runs until the scheduled hearing of Rule 98bis submissions. Simatović’s request for an additional release period until the start of the Defence case was denied as the Chamber found the circumstances did not constitute compelling humanitarian grounds justifying provisional release.

 In a separate decision issued on 10 March, the Trial Chamber denied Jovica Stanišić’s motion for equality of arms and immediate suspension of the trial. The request of the Association of Defence Counsel practising before the ICTY to appear as amicus curiae in relation to the Motion was also denied without prejudice. In its decision, the Trial Chamber found that it was not yet in a position to determine whether the accused’s rights to a fair trial had been violated by the Registrar’s decisions in determining the total amount of funding payable to the Stanišić Defence for the Prosecution phase. This total will not be calculated until the end of the Prosecution phase. At this later stage, the Stanišić Defence may file a request for review with the Registrar, who shall then refer the matter to the President.

Closing arguments in the case of Momčilo Perišić will commence on Monday 28 March at 9:00am in Courtroom I and are expected to run until Thursday afternoon. The trial of Perišić, former Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army, started on 2 October 2008.

Hearings in the trial of Radovan Karadžić were suspended on Monday for eight weeks in order to allow the accused sufficient time to review and incorporate a large volume of material disclosed by the Prosecution in January this year pursuant to Rule 68. Proceedings will resume on 23 May 2011. To date, 71 Prosecution witnesses and chamber witness have testified in this trial. As of 28 February, the Prosecution had used 105 of its allotted 300 hours for the presentation of its case.

Hearing in the trial of Zdravko Tolimir continue this week and next at scheduled. Prosecution witness Rupert Smith, former UNPROFOR Commander will resume his testimony tomorrow, 24 March at 9:00 am in Courtroom I. Rupert Smith is the 96th witness to be called by the Prosecution in this case.

I’ll conclude with an update on the activities of the Tribunal’s Outreach Programme. Today the programme welcomes a group of Serbian Law students to the Tribunal on a visit organised by the OSCE Mission to Serbia. The group will meet representatives from all three organs of the Tribunal and will discuss topics including equality of arms and cross examination, Joint Criminal Enterprise and Command Responsibility and support as well as protection of witnesses.

Finally, two training sessions took place in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina last week, organised as part of the War Crimes Justice Project. Judges and prosecutors from Croatia’s County Courts and Prosecutor Offices in Osijek, Slavonski Brod and Vukovar took part in a two-day training session aimed at sharing the Tribunal’s institutional knowledge and specialised skills, thereby enhancing the capacity of participants to handle complex war crimes cases. Judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers from across Bosnia and Herzegovina also received a three-day advocacy training session in Sarajevo, which was led by ICTY Judge Bakone Justice Moloto.  The next training session for legal professionals planned as part of this project will take place in Banja Luka on 28 March.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Frederick Swinnen, special adviser to the Prosecutor, made no statement.

No questions were asked.

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