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Weekly Press Briefing - 5 October 2011

Date: 5.10.2011
Time: 12:15

Registry and Chambers:

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

Good afternoon,

Last Wednesday, 28 September, President Robinson issued his decision not to grant early release to Shefqet Kabashi on the grounds that the seriousness of Kabashi’s contempt warranted a denial of his application. In reaching his decision, the President noted the Trial Chamber’s finding that Kabashi’s actions had deprived the Trial Chamber in the trial of Haradinaj and others  of ‘evidence relevant for an effective ascertainment of truth in the adjudication of that case’. The President concluded that these actions had posed a threat to the effective functioning of the Tribunal. On 16 September 2011, Kabashi was sentenced to 2 months imprisonment for contempt of the Tribunal, for refusing or failing to answer questions as a witness in the case of Ramush Haradinaj and others on two occasions in June and November 2007. 

Last Thursday, 29 September, the Trial Chamber rejected Vojislav Šešelj’s request to discontinue proceedings in his case, finding that the accused had not established that his right to a trial within a reasonable time had been violated. In its decision, the Chamber referred to its earlier decision of 10 February 2010, which set out that according to international and European jurisprudence, “there is no predetermined threshold with regard to the time period beyond which a trial may be considered unfair on account of undue delay.” The Chamber also found that the accused had failed to provide concrete proof of abuse of process, besides the fact that his trial is still ongoing. According to the Chamber, Šešelj's comparison of the length of his detention to that of other accused in other national and international jurisdictions was not relevant. In this regard, the Chamber noted that some trials, including at the ICTR, have far exceeded the length of that of the accused. Finally, the Chamber noted that since its decision of 10 February 2010, proceedings have not been delayed nor suspended and Šešelj has not requested to be provisionally released.

The trial of Jelena Rašić, a former member of Milan Lukić’s Defence team, charged with five counts of contempt of court, has been scheduled to start on Monday, 9 January 2012. The indictment against Rašić alleges that in October 2008, Rašić knowingly and willingly interfered with the Tribunal’s administration of justice in that she procured a false witness statement from Zuhdija Tabaković. It is further alleged that Rašić presented Tabaković with two other pre-written statements asking him to find other persons to sign false statements and testify in Milan Lukić’s trial in return for a payment of 1,000 Euros. The indictment against Rašić was filed confidentially on 9 July 2010 and made public on 22 September 2010. Rašić was transferred to the seat of the Tribunal on 20 September 2010. At her initial appearance on 22 September 2010, she pleaded not guilty to all five counts of contempt. Rašić was granted provisional release on 12 November 2010 pending the start of trial.

I’ll turn now to activities in the courtrooms.

In the trial of Radovan Karadžić the Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of witness Asim Egrlić, former President of the Executive Board of the SDA Party in Ključ municipality. This trial will adjourn this Thursday, 6 October and will reconvene on Tuesday 18 October at 9am in Courtroom I.

In the trial of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, the Chamber is currently hearing the testimony of Defence witness Radenko Novaković, former Serbian State Security Officer. This trial also continues this week and next as scheduled.

A status conference in the Appeals case of Vujadin Popović and others scheduled to take place yesterday has been postponed until Wednesday 19 October at 10am at a location to be confirmed.
A Status Conference will be held in the case of Ratko Mladić this Thursday, 6 October at 14:30 in Courtroom III.

The trial of Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin is currently adjourned and will resume this Friday, 7 October at 9:00 in Courtroom III.
Finally, a reminder that the trial of Haradinaj and others has adjourned and will reconvene on Wednesday 26 October at 9:00 in Courtroom I.

I will conclude with an update on the Tribunal’s Outreach activities.
Today the Tribunal welcomes a group of six judges and five prosecutors from  Kosovo for a two-day study visit, as part of the Tribunal’s ongoing efforts to strengthen cooperation and knowledge sharing with members of the judiciary in the former Yugoslavia. The visiting Judges will hold peer-to-peer discussions with the Tribunal’s Judges on a number of topics, including witness protection, judgment drafting, challenges in adjudicating war crimes, procedural tools to expedite war crimes proceedings and access to ICTY evidence and legal material. The Prosecutors will meet with representatives of the Office of the Prosecutor. The visit has been organised as part of the EU-funded War Crimes Justice Project implemented in partnership with OSCE-ODIHR.

Office of the Prosecutor:

Aleksandar Kontić, member of the Prosecutor’s Immediate Office, made no statement.

A journalist asked whether the Tribunal could comment on reports in the Serbian media that external doctors would be visiting certain accused at the United Nations Detention Unit (UNDU).

Petrov replied that the Registry has been notified that five detainees have sought cooperation from the Serbian authorities regarding their wish to be examined by doctors of their choice at the UNDU. Petrov clarified that while the medical care for all ICTY detainees falls under the responsibility of the UNDU Medical Officer, under the Tribunal’s Rules of Detention each detainee is also entitled to be examined by a doctor of his choice. In that context, a visit of Serbian doctors could theoretically take place. Petrov stated that to date, the Registry has not received a request from the detainees in question although discussions with Serbian officials had indicated that a request of this nature had been made to the Serbian authorities. For such a visit to take place, the detainees would need to file individual requests with the UNDU Commanding Officer, which would then be considered by him. Petrov also sought to clarify that although an external doctor may visit a detainee, examine him, have access to his medical records and discuss the detainee’s medical status with the Medical Officer, such a doctor will not be able to conduct an invasive examination or prescribe treatment. This is because under the Rules of Detention, the Medical Officer alone is responsible for the health of detainees.

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