|(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)||
The Hague, 18 December 1997
Anto Furundzija to enter a plea on Friday 19 December 1997
Prosecutor Louise Arbour invites
“all remaining indicted accused to surrender themselves”
On Thursday 18 December 1997, SFOR detained two persons who have been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Following their detention, these two individuals have come into the Tribunal’s custody and have been transferred to the ICTY Detention Unit in The Hague.
These accused are Vlatko KUPREŠKIĆ and Anto FURUNDŽIJA.
The next legal step is the initial appearance of the accused before a Trial Chamber during which each of them will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty on each of the counts he is charged with in the indictment:
∙Anto FURUNDŽIJA’s initial appearance hearing will take place on Friday 19 December at 2.30 pm before Trial Chamber II consisting of Judge Cassese (presiding), Judge May and Judge Mumba. This initial appearance is public and all press is invited to attend.
∙No date has been set yet for Vlatko KUPREŠKIĆ’s initial appearance.
COMMENT BY JUSTICE LOUISE ARBOUR, PROSECUTOR
“The Prosecutor welcomes this SFOR initiative and expresses her gratitude for an action without which the Tribunal could not fully discharge its mandate. The Prosecutor is conscious of the dangers inherent in these operations and of the professionalism with which they have to be conducted. SFOR troops have proven their competence in the conduct of these difficult operations, both today and under similar circumstances in Prijedor last July.
The Prosecutor is also confident that the mandate given to SFOR will permit similar interventions in the future. In light of today’s events, the Prosecutor wishes to invite all remaining indicted accused to surrender themselves to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, which they can do by contacting SFOR. She also calls on all government authorities in the former Yugoslavia to proceed to the immediate arrest of indictees under their jurisdiction.”
BACKGROUND ON THE INDICTMENTS AND THE ACCUSED
1. VLATKO KUPREŠKIĆ
Vlatko KUPREŠKIĆ is one of the accused named in the indictment “Kupreškić & others” issued by the ICTY on 10 November 1995 after an investigation by the Office of the .../...
Prosecutor into the “persecution on political, racial and religious grounds of the Bosnian Muslim population” in the Lašva Valley area (Central Bosnia) in 1993.
According to the indictment, Vlatko KUPREŠKIĆ was at that time a soldier with the HVO, the armed forces of the Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna. He allegedly participated in the “unlawful attack against the civilian population and individual citizens of the village of Ahmici” and in the “shooting ...from in front of his house” at a Muslim family, the Pezer family, who was on the run: “Fata Pezer, wife of Ismaïl Pezer, was shot and killed, while their daughter Dzenana Pezer and another Bosnian Muslim were shot and wounded”.
Vlatko KUPREŠKIĆ is charged with 3 counts of Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions (unlawful and wanton destruction of property not justified by military necessity, wilful killing, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or heath) and 3 counts of Violations of the Laws or customs of war (deliberate attack on the civilian population and wanton destruction of a village, murder, cruel treatment of civilians).
Born on 1 January 1958 in the village of Pirići, Vlatko KUPREŠKIĆ is a cousin of Zoran and Mirjan KUPREŠKIĆ who were named in the same indictment and who surrendered to the Tribunal’s custody on 6 October 1997, along with Vladimir ŠANTIĆ, Drago JOSIPOVIĆ, Marinko KATAVA and Dragan PAPIĆ (see Press Release 246).
During their initial appearance on 8 October, these six latter accused entered a plea of non-guilty. They recently filed an application for provisional release which was denied by the Trial Chamber (see Press Release 276).
2. Anto FURUNDŽIJA
Anto FURUNDŽIJA is the subject of an indictment confirmed on 10 November 1995 by Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald who also ordered at the Prosecutor’s request its non divulgation. However, in accordance with the practice developed since the deployment of international forces in Bosnia, a copy of this indictment was transmitted to them in due time.
This indictment also refers to the attacks by forces of the Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna of villages “chiefly inhabited by Bosnian Muslims in the Lašva River valley” (Central Bosnia) in 1993.
According to the indictment, Anto FURUNDŽIJA (who was born in Travnik on 8 July 1969) was at that time a commander of a special forces group within the HVO called the JOKERS and he worked out from the JOKERS’ Headquarters (the “Bungalow”) in Vitez. He was there on or about 15 may 1993 to question two prisoners who were being mistreated by another member of the JOKERS. FURUNDŽIJA was present while a prisoner was sexually assaulted and he did nothing to stop or curtail that action.
Anto FURUNDŽIJA is charged with 1 count of Grave Breach of the Geneva Conventions (torture or inhumane treatment) and with 2 counts of Violations of the Laws or customs of war (torture and outrages upon personal dignity including rape).
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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