ICTY, Matias Hellman
EUFOR, Achim Winkler
Five Points On Kotorsko
There have been a growing number of statements in recent weeks on the
Kotorsko issue. This began in the run up to the elections and this has continued
Comments have come from a number of sources– various levels
of Government, residents and religious representatives– when in fact only the
judiciary are competent to make a final ruling, a ruling that must be
implemented by the local authorities in Doboj.
It is clear that Kotorsko is being used
for political point-scoring and this has little to do with resolving the outstanding
problems faced by the people of Kotorsko –both the long-standing residents and more
The OHR position on Kotorsko has been misrepresented a number of times so
I would like to restate it.
First, all property disputes are now a matter for the local courts.
Second, Kotorko will no longer be actively taken up by the OHR; it needs to
be resolved by the competent domestic authorities – in this case the courts.
Third, any reference to the continued existence of an OHR
construction ban is incorrect. All OHR restrictions on land plots such as
Kotorsko were lifted with the enactment of a new Law on
on 15 May 2003 by the High
Representative, which enabled the resolution of remaining disputes through
Fourth, the OHR has not been actively involved in this matter since 2003. All
matters, including the restitution of property, the illegal construction of the
church and the construction of housing are for the courts and other relevant
Finally, the OHR expects all institutions to act in accordance with their
authorities and competencies under the law and to implement Court decisions
In conclusion, legal regulations and court decisions that refer to the
protection of human rights in the Kotorsko property cases must be respected. OHR
supports the lead role that the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees has
taken in seeing this issue resolved in the interests of all Kotorsko’s
Good morning from the ICTY.
Another very active working week is ongoing in the Tribunal, with almost 100
hours of scheduled hearings in the courtrooms.
Besides the ongoing trials, there are several other events.
16:00 , the Chamber I will announce its judgement in the
case against Croatian journalist Domagoj Margetić for allegations that he
intentionally published names of protected witnesses in the Blaškić case. The
Prosecution seeks a penalty of six months imprisonment and a fine in the amount
of 50 000 Euro. The Defence asked for acquittal. Later on today we will issue a
written Press Advisory in regards to the pronouncing of the judgement.
On Friday at 14:15 an appeal hearing will be held in the case of Miroslav
Bralo, who was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment by a first instance judgement
on 7 December 2005.
Miroslav Bralo pleaded guilty to a number of crimes committed in the area of
Vitez in April and May 1993 at the time he was a member of the anti-terrorist
platoon of the 4th Military Police Battalion of the Croatian Defence Council
(HVO) known as the “Jokers”.
Bralo admitted to the killing of a woman in the village of Nadioci and the
killing of a man in the village of Ahmići, setting fire to numerous houses
belonging to Bosnian Muslims, setting and detonating explosives that destroyed
the lower mosque in Ahmići, the killing of an unidentified adult male, and
assistance in the killing of 14 Bosnian Muslim civilians—all members of the
Salkić and the Mehmet Čeremić families—nine of whom were children. Near the
village of Kratine, Bralo beat and subsequently killed three Bosnian Muslim men.
Bralo admitted to having repeatedly raped and tortured a Bosnian Muslim
woman. He also participated in the unlawful confinement and inhumane treatment
of Bosnian Muslim civilians, who were used as labourers in the digging of
trenches around the village of Kratine and as “human shields” to protect the HVO
forces from sniper-fire.
After his guilty plea, Bralo submitted also a handwritten “apology” in which
he, inter alia, says that he is ashamed of his conduct and ashamed how he
behaved. If you wish to get a copy of the apology, please get in touch with
In determining the sentence of 20 years, the Trial Chamber took into account
several mitigating factors including his sincere remorse, assistance in locating
the remains of some of the victims and his guilty plea to a crime of persecution
that was not originally charged in the indictment against him.
In its appeal, the Defence of Miroslav Bralo claims that the Chamber did not
sufficiently take into account specific mitigating circumstances and therefore
asks Trial Chamber to pronounce new, lower sentence. The Defence has also asked
for a few new exhibits to be allowed which, according to the Defence, show that
Bralo significantly cooperated with the Prosecutor’s office.
The hearing scheduled for Friday is an oral hearing on the appeal by the
Defence. The Appeal Chamber will pronounce its judgement later.
Those interested can contact me afterwards in order to receive written appeal
submissions from me by email.
Last week the Deputy High Representative commented on the implementation of
the law on the seizure of assets belonging to persons helping indicted war
criminals evade arrest. Is this the position held by the OHR and what is the
OHR’s position on this matter considering the fact that this Law has been in
place for the past six months yet there has been no mention of any concrete
action being taken along these lines?
OHR, Oleg Milišić:
Let me first start with the general position. As you know the High
Representative has made absolutely clear his position on the need for full
cooperation from the ICTY, from the B&H institutions themselves and the RS
in particular. It is the institutions themselves that are competent and
responsible for full cooperation with the ICTY. Let me add here that the ICTY is
competent here to assess the level of that implementation. The OHR is in close
contact and coordinating closely with both the ICTY and the RS institutions to
ensure that this full cooperation is realised.
Now, obviously if this is a domestic law – and it is – then it is for
the domestic institutions to give you comments on the extent to which the it has
been implemented. Now, as you know there have been earlier freezes and there has
been earlier OHR action, those freezes of bank accounts are still in place. At
the time, the instruction issued by the High Representative gave clear
directions to the domestic banking agencies on the action that they should take,
and as far as we are concerned it is the banking agencies that you should be in
contact with for further details on those issues.
Do you have any information on the effect produced by the decisions that the
were passed by the High Representative three years ago freezing all the bank
accounts in BiH of 14 people who were helping indicted war criminals evade
arrest, among whom were members of Karadžić’s family, as well as the effect of
all other similar actions undertaken by the international community? Do you have
any information on the impact such actions had on the support network of persons
indicted for war crimes? Also, has there been any mention of an actual figure,
the actual amount of money that was available to them, but now is not?
OHR, Oleg Milišić:
Again, as I said, with regards to the actual figures, the amount of money
retainned, that would be something you would have to contact the banking
agencies for. As I said, they were competent for implementing the High
Representative’s instruction at the time. With regard the effect I would
say that certainly to an extent there was significant move, rather let me
rephrase that, progress was made in extraditing individuals who had been
indicted by the ICTY. Clearly, the OHR is interested in seeing that process
continue and in seeing the full cooperation of the Bosnian institutions with the
ICTY. Matias may have something to add.
ICTY, Matias Hellman:
I would just like to add that the level of cooperation
so far provided to the ICTY by
Bosnia and Herzegovina
, especially Republica Srpska is not
sufficient and this is something the ICTY has continuously emphasized in its
reports over recent years. Within the ICTY the Office of the Prosecutoris
responsible for gathering information on war crime fugitives, therefore please
address any requests for further information on this matter to the Spokesperson
for the Office of the Prosecutor. The point I wanted to make was that the
current level of cooperation with the ICTY is not satisfactory and this is
clearly supported by the fact that six war crime fugitives are still at large
even though we have reason to believe that the whereabouts of some of them are
known to the authorities in Republica Srpska. Therefore, the current level
of cooperation is insufficient and can be satisfactory only when the remaining
war crime fugitives are arrested and handed over to the ICTY.
Since we are already talking about this subject I have a few more questions
for Oleg. You directed me towards the banking agencies in B&H, however I was
actually referring to the bank accounts that were frozen in the European Union
cannot ask a local agency about this matter, but I can ask you as the OHR was
responsible for these measures. Secondly, you were definitely responsible for
overseeing the implementation of the Law on the seizure of assets and you
reacted on this matter frequently, therefore that is the reason why I ask for
your opinion on the implementation of this Law. One more question, in that case
on whose behalf was Mr. Raffi Gregorian speaking? Are you saying that he was not
speaking on behalf of the OHR? He is the Deputy High Representative and he
did say “I would like to see the assets seized”. On whose behalf did he make
OHR, Oleg Milišić:
Firstly, Raffi Gregorian is indeed the Deputy High Representative. Therefore,
there is absolutely no discrepancy between what I just told you and that what
Mr. Gregorian had said. Secondly, you asked about the actions undertaken by the
European Union and the
you will have to ask them to answer your questions. Those actions were
coordinated across the entire international community and therefore you will
have to contact them directly for information on any further details, the effect
produced by those actions and the current situation…
Well, I am asking them directly. After all Mr. Schwarz-Schilling is the EU
Special Representative here. Therefore, I am addressing my questions directly to
the sources you just mentioned. Mr. Schwarz-Schilling is the EU Special
Representative here and the EU took part in this action. Can you, on behalf of
the European Union, tell me if, since we have never received any such
information, a bank account belonging to a war crime suspect in the European
Union has been frozen?
OHR, Oleg Milišić:
I will have to consult my colleagues regarding this
question as I will first have to check under whose competence the matter lies
within the institution of the European Union. Regarding your third question
concerning the local law I think it would be best if you requested this
information from the domestic institutions themselves.