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French Officers Will Testify Before the Tribunal

Tribunal Update 68: Last Week in The Hague (March 16-21, 1998)

French Defence Minister, Alain Richard, had accused the Tribunal of making justice into a "spectacle" and threatened that French officers would "never testify at The Hague." Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour responded with a claim that the French sector of SFOR in Eastern Bosnia had been turned into a kind of "safe haven" for the accused war criminals, who walk freely in front of French soldiers.

Vedrine described relations between Paris and the Tribunal as "excellent," however, and announced that French officers and other officials would "certainly" testify in The Hague, and would not require "any special rules" that would apply only to French witnesses.

He described last year's "misunderstandings" as "a normal discussion in which France raised a certain number of legitimate questions about the conditions and the procedure in the case of testimony by soldiers and officers who took part, under difficult conditions, in the UN peace operation in Bosnia, and who do not wish to be treated as suspects."

For her part, Arbour made it clear that she was "satisfied with the intention expressed by the French delegation that French military and officials would be authorised to testify before the Tribunal."

She particularly stressed that this would take place "within the framework of the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure and Evidence."