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Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 15:29:39 +0100
From: "Duncan Furey" <>
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Welcome to the 121th issue of Tribunal Update, one of three free e-mail
bulletin services produced by the Institute for War & Peace Reporting
(IWPR) in London.

Tribunal Update provides a summary of the past week's important events
and around the courtrooms of the International Criminal Tribunal for the
Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Written by Mirko Klarin, one of the leading journalists covering events
The Hague, Tribunal Update is a component of IWPR's Tribunal Monitoring
Project for which IWPR gratefully acknowledges the support of the
International Development & Cooperation Agency, Ford Foundation, British
Foreign & Commonwealth Office and other sources. This and previous
of Tribunal Update are available through the IWPR Website:

By Mirko Klarin & Vjera Bogati, assistant reporter.


The Hague, 18.04.99.
Mirko Klarin
Last Week in The Hague (12-17 April, 1999)
* Kosovo investigation: Arbour's "candid statement"
* Kordic & Cerkez trial: Lasva River Valley... all over again
* Blaskic trial: "Lack of knowledge"
* Arkan's case: Inappropriate disclosure



For the first time since the establishment of the Tribunal, the
has deviated from her normal practice "not to comment on the existence
progress of any investigation" and, specifically, "not to announce, or
confirm, that particular persons are the subject of an
last week if she thought that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
qualified for war crimes charges, the Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour
responded: "It would not be candid to say I did not see a possibility."
Arbour said this at the Brussels NATO HQ after talks with
Javier Solana and other Alliance officials last Wednesday. The main
of the talks was, understandably, the Kosovo investigations. In a brief
meeting with journalists, Arbour said that western governments must do
to help the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP)collect evidence of war crimes
Kosovo and provide it with "the best possible access to information that
usable in court." She also warned the Alliance "not to lose track" of
refugees - potential witnesses - who are being transferred from Albania
Macedonia to other countries. Statements by NATO member states
unconfirmed information or supposed evidence of horrific war crimes in
Kosovo had put heavy pressure on the the Office of the Prosecutor
its 85 investigators, and had - Arbour said - "created immense
that we would deliver immediately the product of evidence", i.e. the
indictments. But, Arbour warned, "where I sit it looks much different:
information is one thing, and evidence is something completely
The Prosecutor also expressed her concern that Serb forces were
evidence of their crimes in Kosovo.

It remains to be seen whether the Alliance's accusations against Serb
forces, that Arbour referred to, are more than simply a by-product of
war propaganda used by western governments to justify their military
campaign, and if so a sign of the evolution in their perception of the
of the Tribunal. Western governments have always professed publicly to
on the side of justice, but "tomorrow... not today", because - at least
the past - they always had some other, "more important, unfinished
business" with Mr. Milosevic.

This has been evident from the way those same governments have in the
three months of the past year ignored half a dozen dramatic appeals from
both the Tribunal?s Prosecutor Arbour and its President Judge Gabrielle
Kirk McDonald to the UN Security Council. The appeals sought energetic
action in response to obstructionism by the Federal Republic of
(FRY) of the Tribunal's Kosovo investigations as well as the refusal to
extradite three officers of the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA)
indicted for their part in the November 1991 massacre of civilians in
Vukovar. The Security Council, or the powers that hold sway there, never
wanted to step on President Milosevic's toes, wary of endangering his
alleged 'co-operation' in the fiction of the Kosovo 'peace-process'. In
event, Milosevic's so-called co-operation amounted to little more than
protracted talks with U.S. envoy, Richard Holbrooke, the OSCE and NATO
October and of the Rambouillet and Paris negotiations in February and
March, that failed to advance the peace process.

It is now obvious that Milosevic used the grace period to prepare the
?final solution to the Kosovo problem?. This realisation may have
up western governments and helped them understand that the time for
is "today, and not tomorrow." If this is true, it would be better if
information and evidence of war crimes is not used for propaganda
since those reports not only put undue pressure on the Tribunal, but
warn those who committed the crimes of the areas where the evidence has
yet been destroyed fully. According to the latest available evidence
out of Kosovo, the forces committing crimes are also intensively
in the destruction and alteration of evidence, often by immediately
removing bodies far from the scene of the crime. Following her talks
NATO, the Prosecutor appears confident that this time she will obtain
hard evidence she needs to pursue justice. "We have had a very useful
dialogue with a lot of our information providers so that there is a much
better understanding of what our needs are" - Arbour said on Friday,
talks with US Assistant Secretary of State, Harold Koh. Koh, who is the
chief human rights official in the Clinton administration, visited the
Tribunal to "discuss ways to improve the timely delivery of information
about events in Kosovo to the Office of the Prosecutor."

Koh told a news conference that: "The United States was working to make
sure that non-governmental organisations asked a standardised set of
questions to refugees fleeing from Kosovo." The United States also gave
grant to the American Bar Association's Coalition for International
to help it document human rights violations in Kosovo. "American
support for this unprecedented collaboration to document these cases
help ensure that all potential sources of evidence will be tapped and
those who commit these crimes will be held responsible," he said. Also
Friday, UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook announced the appointment of
Foreign Office official, David Gowan, as the UK?s Kosovo War Crimes
Co-ordinator, who will be responsible for passing information on Kosovo
atrocities to the Tribunal. His job involves: combing through existing
reporting for material of interest to the Tribunal; analysing new
as it comes in, including eyewitness accounts by refugees of Serb
atrocities; co-ordinating input and collecting material from the rest of
Whitehall; liasing with Judge Arbour and the Tribunal, and, as
with David Sheffer, the US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes.


The trial of Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez began on Monday 12 April with
the defendants "pleased and relieved," as the Defence counsel put it,
finally to have a chance to prove their innocence after 18 months in
pre-trial detention. This is the fifth trial to date concerning crimes
committed in the Lasva River Valley and Central Bosnia during the
Croat-Muslim war. Two of those trials are on-going (Blaskic and
Kupreskic &
Others); Aleksovski is awaiting the verdict in his trial, and Furundzija
appealing his 10-year sentence. It is also the third trial, after those
Blaskic and Kupreskic & Others, to focus on the events of 16 April 1993
the village of Ahmici near Vitez in Central Bosnia. In his opening
statement, prosecutor Geoffrey Nice said that on that fateful day Ahmici
was "turned red by the flames which burned its houses and [by] the blood
its people, killed by those who supported the interests of Croats at the
expense of the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims)."

At the time of those events, Dario Kordic (38) was, according to the
prosecutor, "the key figure of the Bosnian Croat leadership." He was
vice-president of the self-proclaimed Croat state within
(the Croat Community of Herzeg-Bosna) and vice-president of its armed
forces, the Croatian Defence Council (HVO). Prosecutor Nice described
Kordic as "very close to, and trusted by those in Zagreb" and
involved in the planning, ordering, instigation and execution of many of
these crimes." He "effectively controlled armed forces who committed the
alleged offences." By virtue of his position, the prosecutor alleges,
"Kordic knew of, and actively participated in the planning of,
attack on Bosnian Muslims."

At the same time, Mario Cerkez (40) was commander of an HVO brigade in
Vitez, whose area of responsibility covered the areas of Central Bosnia
where Bosnian Croat military and paramilitary units allegedly committed
atrocities. Cerkez participated in high-level meetings where HVO
were being designed, issued orders for murders and destruction of
and was responsible for detention of Bosnian Muslim prisoners, the
Prosecutor alleged. Furthermore, Cerkez had effective command over
subordinate to him, but failed to prevent or punish the violations that
occurred in his area of responsibility. Both Kordic and Cerkez are
with 22 counts each of persecution of Muslim civilians on political,
racial, ethnic or religious grounds; unlawful attacks on civilians and
civilian objects; wilful killing, murder and causing serious injury;
inhumane acts and inhumane treatment; imprisonment; taking of hostages
the use of human shields; destruction and plunder of property. To prove
their individual and command responsibility, the Prosecutor is planning
introduce "thousands of military documents" and video recordings, and,
necessary, to call up to 370 witnesses.

Last week the Prosecutor called the first three witnesses, although the
first two testimonies were given in camera. The third, protected witness
"C", started his testimony on Friday with a description of first
between Bosnian Croat and Muslim forces in the town of Novi Travnik in
1992. His testimony will continue next week.


The first week of the Prosecutor's cross-examination of General Tihomir
Blaskic consisted mainly of discussions of the role of the Republic of
Croatia and its army (HV) in the war in Bosnia in general, and, more
specifically, the part it played in the Operative Zone commanded by the
Defendant. However, Blaskic says he knows little or nothing about this.
denies any HV soldiers were present in his Operative Zone while he was
charge, and knows little about the presence of the HV in Herzegovina. He
adamantly maintained this position even after the Prosecutor Gregory
presented a Croatian military circular that pronounces Central Bosnia
of the HV's southern front and consequently announces the formation of
so-called Outpost Command Centre Forward Command for Central Bosnia.
Blaskic replied that it was "the first time he had heard that the HV's
southern front included Central Bosnia." The judges in turn noted that
area covered by the above-mentioned Outpost Command centre or Forward
Command included the Lasva River Valley, of which he was in charge at
time. Blaskic explained this by asserting that he was only a "little or
small commander" at the time, not yet commander of the entire Operative
Zone. He further denied knowing of any HV officers who were appointed
commanders, or of Bosnian Croat leaders travelling to Croatia's capital,
Zagreb, for "consultations".

Blaskic's memory was not jogged when the Prosecutor presented a letter
written by several Bosnian Croat leaders - one of whom was Dario Kordic,
whose trial started last week - seeking a meeting with the then Croatian
Minister of Defence in order to "inform him of situation in Central
and receive further instructions." Blaskic even says he does not know
after the Tribunal issued an indictment against him in November 1995,
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman decorated and appointed him to the
of Chief Inspector of the Croatian armed forces. There may, of course,
be a
good explanation for Blaskic?s "ignorance". In six counts of his
indictment, Blaskic has been charged with grave breaches of the Geneva
Conventions, which relate to the protection of civilians and prisoners
war in conditions of international conflict. The Defence thus aims to
dispute the existence of a state of international armed conflict at
in central Bosnia - and to prove that the presence of the HV in
in south-western Bosnia was not an occupation but merely an "illegal
intervention" in an internal conflict. The Prosecution has, on the other
hand, been trying for the past two years to obtain from the Republic of
Croatia and the (Croat-Muslim) Bosnian Federation documents it believes
would prove conclusively the involvement of the HV in the Bosnian
Croatia has, however, refused to make the documents available on grounds
"national security interests", even though they were first requested
the subpoena duces tecum (the procedure that requests the production of
evidence under threat of punishment and then by the Trial Chamber's

The cross-examination of Blaskic was halted last week in order to hear
depositions of military and legal representatives of the Croatian
government, who tried to demonstrate that the surrender of requested
documents would indeed constitute a threat to national security. The
hearings were held in closed session, and the Trial Chamber is expected
decide whether to accept or refuse Croatian arguments in the coming days
weeks. Blaskic's Defence team presented more than two thousand documents
from HVO military archives during the presentation of its brief, none of
which pointed to the international character of the conflict. The mass
documents also lacked the crucial report on the investigation into what
took place at Ahmici that was undertaken by the HVO Security Force on
Blaskic's orders. Since the position taken by the Defence is that the
results of the
investigation could help Blaskic's case, the judges asked why he failed
request delivery of that document alongside the plethora of other HVO
documents that were requested and made available to him. Blaskic's
explanation was that he did not request permission to search HVO
Force archives because he "presumed he would not be given permission,"
because he feared that if he insisted regardless, he would be refused
permission to obtain other documents too. Blaskic?s cross-examination
resumes on 3 May.


Announcing the existence of a so-called "sealed indictment" against
Raznjatovic a.k.a. Arkan, the Prosecutor Louise Arbour stressed that the
indictment is to remain under the tribunal seal until such time as the
accused is apprehended. In his "Decision to vacate in part an order for
non-disclosure", which Judge Richard May signed on 31 March 1996, inter
alia, he said that: "In the interests of justice to protect confidential
information obtained by the Prosecutor for the protection of witnesses a
copy of the indictment should not be transmitted to the authorities of
FRY until such time as they execute the warrant [of arrest] and the
is taken into custody." All one can learn from the now published Warrant
Arrest and Order for Surrender is that the named Zeljko Raznjatovic
Arkan -
by the indictment confirmed by Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen on 30
1997 - is charged with "committing serious violations of international
humanitarian law in particular under Articles 2,3 and 5 of the
Statute." The above-mentioned articles relate to grave breaches of the
Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws of customs of war, and crimes
against humanity. This is how it should have stayed until the moment of

It did not, however. Last week saw disclosure of further details of one
the counts of the Tribunal's sealed indictment of Arkan in less than
appropriate circumstances. At the daily press briefing at the UK?s
of Defence, Minister George Robertson publicly announced that Arkan was
inter alia charged with taking part in the well-known massacre of more
200 people who were taken from the Vukovar Hospital and shot at the
farm of Ovcara on 21 November 1991. Since the Tribunal did not deny
Robertson's statement is probably not just another missive of war
propaganda, even if the motive for the disclosure was undoubtedly

Three officers of the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) have also been
indicted for the same crime, and the Tribunal has been seeking their
extradition unsuccessfully for the past three years. Another person,
Mayor of Vukovar, Slavko Dokmanovic, was tried for the crime, but
suicide while in detention shortly before the sentence was announced. A
number of witnesses of the Vukovar massacre have already appeared in The
Hague for that trial, some of whom were part of the witness protection
scheme. This is yet another reason why, "in the interests of the
of witnesses," the Tribunal has important reasons to "protect
sources until the accused is taken into custody," as stated in the
above-mentioned Judge May's decision.


The Institute for War & Peace Reporting

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) is a London-based
independent non-profit organisation supporting regional media and
democratic change.

Lancaster House
33 Islington High Street
London N1 9LH,
United Kingdom

Tel: (44  171)  713  7130
Fax: (44 171) 713 7140
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The opinions expressed in "Tribunal Update" are those of the authors and
not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.

Copyright (C) 1999 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

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