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INFO::: Transitional Justice > The Hague Tribunal - PAGE 3 > News Exclusive


News Exclusive

Jutarnji list

October 2007


Milosevic's Prosecutor in the Hague Geoffrey Nice responds to Florence Hartmann's accusations and claims he should be given credit for collecting evidence against Milosevic Carla Del Ponte is responsible for politicizing the Prosecution Hartmann had access to the private archives of Mrs. Del Ponte, but interpreted events in a manner that solely benefits Mrs. Del Ponte ZAGREB - the Chief Prosecutor in the Milosevic Trial at the Hague, Sir Geoffrey Nice, in an exclusive letter to Jutarnji List yesterday refuted accusations by the former Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte's spokesperson Florence Hartmann in her book "Peace and Punishment".

Nice reacted to Hartmann's claims that he had sought the withdrawal of the charges against Milosevic for genocide committed in Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo on a number of occasions as of October of 2002. Nice claims Hartmann's accusations are unverified and unfounded. After the International Court of Judge ruled in April that Serbia was only indirectly responsible for crimes committed in Srebrenica, it was Nice who had accused Del Ponte of having made a deal with Belgrade about withholding documents tying Serbia to the genocide.

Del Ponte would didn't take the advice of others Nice reacted to parts of the book in which Hartmann writes: "When Milosevic was removed from power in October 2000, the OTP barely had any proof regarding his involvement in crimes committed in Croatia and BIH due to internal and external obstructions. Srebrenica and Sarajevo in the end were entered into the indictment but as the Milosevic trial dragged on, Geoffrey Nice, on a number of occasions as of October 2002 requested that those charges be dropped due to a lack of time and evidence." Nice replies that had Hartmann asked him about it he would have responded as follows:

"A brief history of the part of the indictment pertaining to Sarajevo and Srebrenica is as follows. Upon assuming my post in November 2001, I was faced with the inconsistent opinions of the status of Sarajevo and Srebrenica in the indictment amongst the lawyers, the investigators and analysts who were preparing the part of the trial for BiH. One of the reasons for this state of unrest was that Mrs. Del Ponte insisted that Milosevic be charged for crimes in Srebrenica and Sarajevo contrary to the advice of lawyers who felt they had insufficient evidence at the time the indictment was put together. However, the judge had already approved the indictment. I decided we should conduct a detailed analysis of the current evidence for Sarajevo and Srebrenica and then decide how to proceed. The analysis and search for additional evidence was undertaken immediately after my arrival as we expected part of the trial for crimes committed in BIH to begin at the end of 2002. The process of analyzing the evidence was conducted simultaneously with our consultations with investigators, analysts and lawyers. This method of approach opened new avenues for the investigation and the identification of numerous new items of evidence. One example of evidence which was requested and obtained between 2002 and 2005 was a number of important collections of documents obtained from the Belgrade authorities according to Rule 54bis, i.e. a Rule by which the Trial Chamber can order a State to procure documents to the Tribunal. Documents from the Main Defense Council (VSO) were obtained in this manner. This collection of documents was requested in May of 2002 and received during 2003. However, these extremely important documents for both the public, the Tribunal and the International Court of Justice were never fully revealed to the public due to the fact that Carla Del Ponte, before any member of my team had the chance to review the contents of the collection, agreed not to oppose protective measures for a large number of documents which Belgrade intended to file for and in the end was granted by the Court. There was no legal basis or practical reason for this attitude of hers. Hartmann's claims are unfounded. My approach to the problem of the indictment in the parts dealing with Sarajevo and Srebrenica led me to additional evidence. Hartmann didn't participate in a single phase of this process, which doesn't stop her from expressing very strong claims about me and this topic.

She is neither an investigator nor a lawyer and her professional capabilities rest on her journalist work and work as Del Ponte's spokesperson. Not only that- according to the nature of her job, she was not even permitted to participate in these processes and had no access to documents regarding the investigative process. There is no doubt that Hartmann had access to Del Ponte's private archive, but there is no doubt that she interpreted these events to the sole benefit of Del Ponte. I'll refrain from commenting who and why gave her access to the archives. This is up to the UN administration to investigate. The results of the approach which I initiated in the case of Sarajevo and Srebrenica are best seen in the Prosecution's response to the Amicus Curiae brief in which they had, after the prosecution had finished its presentation of the case, requested the Trial Chamber remove numerous parts of the indictment from the remainder of the trial. Their arguments were that the Prosecution had provided insufficient evidence in its presentation of the case, particularly for Sarajevo, Srebrenica and the count for genocide in order for the charges to be upheld for the duration of the trial. The Prosecution's team and analysts I led created a reply which presented the best evidence and legal theory under which Milosevic was being tried, including for crimes committed in Sarajevo and Srebrenica. The judges responded positively to our brief, as a result of which, amongst other issues, Sarajevo, Srebrenica and the count of genocide remained in the indictment for the remainder of the trial. Hartmann "suggests a connection between Geoffrey Nice and the British Foreign Office, noting, in detail, cases in which Nice requested Milosevic be freed of the gravest of all charges". Such inaccurate and unfounded claims are so ridiculous they aren't worth mentioning. They are interesting only from the standpoint of the credibility of the book as a whole.

Is Hartmann suggesting that I worked on average 15 hours a day for over 4 years in order to satisfy some sort of bizarre British policy which Hartmann failed to define precisely?

And that no one inside the Tribunal controlled me including Mrs. Del Ponte? It would be good if Hartmann were to explain which exact evidence was concealed and obstructed because as she herself claims, there was no evidence against Milosevic in October of 2000. How then, does she explain that the most important evidence was procured from 2002 to 2005, since I took over the case? I followed up on every bit of information that could lead to possible evidence, instructing my investigators To act upon it. One such lead concerned intercepted conversations between Milosevic and Mladic and other key figures of the Srebrenica drama which were supposedly in the possession of one of the entities. This specific example of obstruction in obtaining the documents for Srebrenica somehow slipped Hartmann's mind. In 2005 the 54bis procedure was initiated in order to obtain this evidence from the competent authorities or in any case in order to obtain statements from representatives of the entity whether or not they were in the possession of these materials. A week before the scheduled hearing where the representative of the entity was to appear before the Court, Del Ponte contacted third-party representatives instructing her to withdraw the 54bis Prosecution Request, which she subsequently did. I never received any form of explanation as to why she did this. Del Ponte's sensitivity towards political pressure posed ethical problems for me. I discussed this specific problem on numerous occasions with her immediate assistants in order to identify the legal parameters of what we were obligated to disclose to the court and the accused in this specific case. This, unfortunately never occurred due to the death of the accused. My professional duty was not only that this evidence would reveal Milosevic's criminal responsibility for Srebrenica but that it would also reveal that the International Community could have known in advance what would happen in Srebrenica.

Statements about me published from Hartmann's book in your newspaper are inaccurate, unverified and unfounded ad seem to have one sole purpose which is to protect the position of Mrs. Del Ponte according to the principle "attack is the best defense". All the topics noted in the book actually identify the weak points related to the rule of Mrs. Del Ponte which she is obviously well aware of. In attacking the whole world in order to defend the legacy of her boss, Hartmann has actually opened Pandora's Box about Mrs. Del Ponte, because examples of Del Ponte's unprofessional behavior and unnecessary politicization of the Prosecution have yet to be fully disclosed.



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