ICTY Weekly Press Briefing
Registry and Chambers:
Liam McDowall, Senior Policy Advisor to the Registry, made the following statement:
Welcome to the first briefing since the courts winter recess and another busy year at the Tribunal. Courts resumed hearings last Monday, 7 January. Seven trials are ongoing and the trials against Šešelj, Delić, Popović and others, Milutinović and others, as well as Prlić and others are in session this and next week. Additionally, this Friday there is a Status Conference in the Gotovina and others case at 10:00 a.m. in courtroom II. Only Gotovina and Markać will be present as Čermak is still on provisional release.
Next Monday afternoon the parties will begin to deliver their closing arguments in the Haradinaj and others case.
Meantime, while the courts were closed over the recess the Tribunal continued working. The Detention Unit saw a lot of activity with no fewer than 14 persons provided temporary provisional release. All those persons provided temporary release have now returned in to the Tribunal’s custody. One exception is that of Veselin Sljivancanin whose return date has yet to be fixed. 45 persons are currently held in the Tribunal’s Detention Unit.
Elsewhere, late last year the United Nations General Assembly approved the budget proposed by the Tribunal for the biennium 2008-2009 in its entirety. The proposed resource requirements for 2008-2009 amount to US$347,566,900 net.
With the completion of first instance trials, the focus will be shifting towards appeals. Against this backdrop, the proposed budget reflects the gradual redeployment of posts to strengthen appellate support work coupled with the phasing out of a large number of posts during 2009 in line with the completion of first instance trials during the second year of the biennium.
Interestingly, the budget includes new provisions such as the amount of $3.8 million to support the preservation and access of the Tribunals records and archives.
On the issue of archives, I would like to note that the second meeting of the Advisory Committee on Archives of the UN Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (ACA) was held in Johannesburg on 3 and 4 January 2008.
The Committee discussed the particular visits its members have made to UN officials, governments, international organisations, and NGOs. In organising the visits thus far, particular attention has been given to consulting in Rwanda, and throughout the former Yugoslavia. These and further visits to be made aim at consulting as broadly as possible and benefiting from the views and suggestions the Committee is receiving.
Honouring its terms of reference as established by the Registrars of the two Tribunals, the Committee decided that, in the near future, it would be ready to present to the Registrars of the two Tribunals an interim report containing initial recommendations for their consideration. The Committee would take the feedback on its interim report and proceed to finalize its work, most likely by summer 2008, with a final report.
Lastly, I have the pleasure to introduce Ms. Nerma Jelačić who has recently joined us to take up the position of the Tribunal’s spokesperson. For those of you who don’t already know her, Nerma has a journalistic background and was the director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. She’ll be assuming her responsibilities, including representing the Chambers and Registry at these briefings, over the coming weeks.
Office of the Prosecutor:
Olga Kavran read the following statement on behalf of Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the ICTY:
It is a great honour and a challenge for me to have been appointed Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. I am impressed by the many achievements of this institution since its establishment in 1993. Thanks to the leadership of the previous prosecutors, and most recently Ms. Carla Del Ponte, I inherit a fully functional Office staffed with highly dedicated and capable individuals.
Continuity in the work of the Office of the Prosecutor is of utmost importance and I intend to provide the leadership and direction necessary to successfully fulfil our mandate.
With 26 individuals on trial, nine on appeal and 11 awaiting trial, this is a busy period for the ICTY. A lot of work remains to be done. Therefore, my first priority will be to ensure the successful conduct of all current and pending criminal proceedings.
Obtaining the arrest and transfer to the Tribunal of the four remaining fugitives, particularly Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić, also remains an absolute priority. The Office of the Prosecutor will therefore continue to rely on the crucial support and assistance of States in the former Yugoslavia and the international community to finally bring Ratko Mladić, Radovan Karadžić, Goran Hadžić and Stojan Župljanin to justice. In the coming weeks, I plan to discuss issues related to cooperation with relevant authorities in the former Yugoslavia, as well as representatives of other States and international organisations, including those of the European Union.
The cooperation between this Office and the prosecution authorities in the former Yugoslavia remains crucial to the continued prosecution of war crimes in the region. This Office will continue its ongoing cooperation with local war crimes prosecutors and judicial authorities by transferring remaining investigation files and sharing accumulated information and expertise.
We are grateful for the support of United Nations member states to the work of this institution and for their approval of the ICTY budget for 2008 and 2009. As ever, we will continue to rely and call on the critical support of the international community and the NGOs since the Tribunal’s successful implementation of its Completion Strategy fully depends on it.
I am fully committed to building upon the Tribunal’s many achievements. We owe this to the victims of the crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Olga Kavran made the following statement regarding current and upcoming OTP activities:
Prosecutor Brammertz has just met with Mr Dimitrij Rupel, Foreign Minister of Slovenia and Representative of the current presidency of the European Union. Issues of mutual interest were discussed. Prosecutor Brammertz thanked the European Union for its continued support and reiterated his position that at this time he will not be making any new assessment on the issue of Serbia’s cooperation, unless there are significant new developments that would warrant such an assessment. Until such a time, the report provided to the United Nations by the previous Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, applies.
Tomorrow afternoon and Friday, Prosecutor Brammertz will be in Brussels where he will meet representatives of the international community and the European institutions, including Mr Javier Solana and Mr Olli Rehn.
Referring to the visit of Mr Dimitrij Rupel, a journalist asked whether Prosecutor Brammertz has expressed any opinion regarding Slovenia’s support of the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Kavran reiterated the fact that the Prosecutor will not be making any new assessment on cooperation and that anything else is an issue for the European Union.
Asked when Prosecutor Brammertz will be visiting Belgrade before the Ministerial meeting at the end of the month, Kavran replied that he will not be visiting Belgrade this month but that he will visit the region of the former Yugoslavia, including Belgrade later in February.
Referring to the final brief filed by the Prosecution in the Haradinaj case, a journalist asked whether it is normal practice at the Tribunal to file the final brief a week in advance of the closing arguments. Kavran confirmed that it is standard procedure to file the final brief before the closing arguments are held and explained that it is required by the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Both parties file their written final briefs, following which they deliver closing arguments in the courtroom. Kavran explained that the text of the final brief is much longer than what the closing arguments in court will be.
Asked whether there is an indictment against the former Minister of Culture of Kosovo in relation to alleged witness intimidation, Kavran replied that there is no indictment.
Asked whether Prosecution was able to comment further on the issues of mutual interest discussed during Prosecutor Brammertz and Mr Rupel’s meeting, Kavran replied she was unable to do so.