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Weekly Press Briefing - 7 September 2011

Date: 07.09.2011
Time: 12:00

Registry and Chambers:

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

Good afternoon,

Yesterday Trial Chamber I convicted Momčilo Perišić, former Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army, for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and sentenced him to 27 years’ imprisonment. Perišić was found guilty by majority in the Trial Chamber, Judge Moloto dissenting, of aiding and abetting murders, inhumane acts, persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, and attacks on civilians in Sarajevo and Srebrenica. He was also found guilty, by a majority of Judges, Judge Moloto dissenting, of failing to punish his subordinates for their crimes of murder, attacks on civilians and injuring and wounding civilians during the rocket attacks on Zagreb on 2 and 3 May 1995. Perišić was unanimously acquitted of charges of aiding and abetting extermination as a crime against humanity in Srebrenica and of command responsibility in relation to crimes in Sarajevo and Srebrenica. Yesterday’s judgement is the first handed down by the Tribunal in a case against an official of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I’ll turn next to Shefqet Kabashi who appeared as a witness in the retrial of Haradinaj and others on 22 August. In an order issued last Friday, 2 September, Trial Chamber II directed the Prosecutor to investigate the issue of Kabashi's repeated refusal to answer questions during this appearance, to examine whether there are grounds for the preparation and submission of a new indictment for contempt. The Chamber ordered that the Prosecutor inform the Chamber as to the investigation's progress by 16 September.

In the current contempt case of Shefqet Kabashi based on the indictment raised in 2007, the accused pleaded guilty on 26 August to two counts of Contempt of the Tribunal for refusing to answer questions as a witness in the first trial of Haradinaj and others. Pursuant to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, a further hearing was held on 31 August to allow the Trial Chamber to satisfy itself that the guilty plea has been made voluntarily, that it was informed and unequivocal, and that there is a sufficient factual basis for the crime and the accused’s participation in it. The date of the Judgement hearing will be confirmed in due course.

In the case of Ratko Mladić, the Defence has confirmed that it opposes the Prosecution's motion to sever the indictment and conduct two separate trials. The Trial Chamber is now considering the Prosecution Motion. A Status Conference in this case will take place on 6 October at 14:30 in Courtroom III.
I’ll turn now to scheduling issues.
A Status Conference in the case of Nikola Šainović and others will take place on 13 September at 14:30 in Courtroom III.

Next, a reminder that the Appeals hearing in the case of Milan and Sredoje Lukić will be held on 14 September, commencing at 9:00 and on 15 September, commencing at 10:00 in Courtroom III.  

A Status Conference will be held in the case of Vlastimir Đorđević on 21 September at 9:30 in Courtroom II.

In the case of Ante Gotovina and others, the next Status Conference has been rescheduled for Thursday 29 September at 15:30 in Courtroom III.

A Status Conference in the case of Vujadin Popović and others will be held on 4 October at 11am. The location will be confirmed in due course.

The trial in the case of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović is adjourned until 4 October. This adjournment was requested by the Stanišić Defence, in order to assist with the preparation of the defence case.

Turning now to current courtroom activity:-

In the trial of Radovan Karadžić, the Trial Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of protected witness KDZ-607.

 In the trial of Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin, the Trial Chamber is currently hearing defence witness military expert Vidosav Kovačević who is testifying about the work of the police during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.

In the case of Zdravko Tolimir, hearings will resume tomorrow 8 September at 10.30 in courtroom III with the testimony via videolink of protected witness  PW-014.

I’ll turn now to an update on the Tribunal’s outreach activities.  

Yesterday the Tribunal’s Outreach Programme welcomed a group of witness protection officers, prosecutors and judicial officers from the Western Balkans for a visit aimed at sharing the Tribunal’s experience of supporting and protecting witnesses both at the pre-trial stage and during trials. The Tribunal’s staff also shared their experience of obtaining witness statements and protecting their identity. This visit took place as part of a wider EU project aimed at strengthening cooperation between national witness protection authorities and increasing the level of protection for individuals giving evidence in criminal proceedings.

Finally, members of the public who would like to visit behind the scenes at the Tribunal can do so on Sunday 18 September 2011 as part of the fourth annual ‘International Day’ organised by the Municipality of The Hague. The doors of the Tribunal will be open between 11am and 5pm. Events on the day will include presentations by ICTY officials and staff, question and answer sessions, a guided tour of the courtrooms and an exhibition and films introducing the work of the Tribunal. The ICTY welcomes this chance to present its mandate, work and achievements to the citizens of The Hague and to the public at large.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Frederick Swinnen, Special Adviser to the Prosecutor, made the following statement.

The Prosecutor, Mr. Serge Brammertz, will be in Belgrade for a working visit, next week, on 12 and 13 September 2011.

During this working visit, Mr. Brammertz will meet with President Boris Tadic, Minister Rasim Ljajic and Prosecutor for War Crimes Vladimir Vukcevic. He will also meet with the Action Team that was in charge of locating and arresting fugitives and members of Serbia's operational services who worked on the arrests of ICTY indictees, in particular, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic. During this mission, Mr. Brammertz will also discuss with the authorities cooperation matters in relation to ongoing trials.  

There will be a press opportunity during the trip. Details regarding this event will be communicated in due course.


When asked by a journalist whether the decision to sever the Mladic indictment would be made by 6 October, Jelačić explained that there are no deadlines prescribed by the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure for ruling on such motions. The Trial Chamber is currently examining the motion and will issue the decision once it is ready. Jelačić explained that the Status Conference due to take place on 6 October is a regular conference scheduled as part of the pre-trial proceedings. Judge Orie stated at the previous status conference that the pending status of the decision on this motion should not impact on the parties’ preparation for the trial proper. In line with this, pre-trial proceedings are ongoing, including status conferences, 65ter meetings and other motions and agreements which need to be made between the parties before and while the Trial Chamber is deliberating on this decision.

When asked where the repeated refusal of key witness Kabashi to answer questions leaves the Haradinaj retrial, Swinnen replied that the refusal of the witness to answer questions is a challenging issue that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is currently dealing with, and that they have been instructed by the Trial Chamber to investigate the matter further. The OTP has other witnesses scheduled to testify in two weeks time, and it is crucial that these witnesses are able to testify and that their evidence is presented to the Chamber. Swinnen recalled the problems encountered in the first instance trial in bringing witnesses to testify in The Hague, and expressed the hope that now the OTP would be successful in their efforts to do so for the retrial. When asked whether the OTP had grounds to be more optimistic on this issue with regard to the retrial, Swinnen stressed that it was important to be very cautious with this type of case due to the circumstances in which it is taking place, and that it was not possible to give any guarantees of success. Bringing witnesses to The Hague for this trial remained a serious challenge, as witnesses remain fearful of testifying. When asked whether the OTP planned to present this issue to the Judges in the Chamber, Swinnen replied that the Judges were already familiar with the issue and that this was something which also needed to be addressed outside the courtroom. Good cooperation with all main parties involved, including the Registry, other states and institutions was in place, but this is not an issue that will be solved by good cooperation alone.

When asked about the reaction of the OTP to the Judgement of Momčilo Perišić, Swinnen explained that colleagues are conducting a full legal analysis of the full text of the Judgement and would not react to it until this process has been completed. He reminded those present that the OTP has a month in which to decide whether to lodge an appeal.
Turning to the questions received as part of the Interactive Press Briefing, Nerma Jelačić responded to the following question.

A journalist has asked why and how the Tribunal decides on making public exhibits available to the public and why they are not available in certain ongoing trials such as that of Prlić et al, Perišić, Stanišić and Simatović, and Šešelj? Are these exhibits available via alternative channels to the Court Records Database (CRD)?

Jelačić explained that public exhibits are available to the public on the CRD for completed cases. As regards ongoing cases, public exhibits are also available for cases where the relevant Trial Chamber has made a decision to release these exhibits before the end of the trial. This is the case for example in the trial of Radovan Karadžić.  In addition for certain ongoing cases including that of Zdravko Tolimir, the Trial Chamber has made a decision to release exhibits to members of the public on request. In short, for those cases where exhibits are not available on the CRD, members of the public and the media can contact the Media Office requesting the relevant exhibit and permission will be sought from the Chamber to release it.



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