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KLA Investigation Rumoured

Tribunal Update 182 Last Week in The Hague (June 26 - July 1, 2000)

Chief Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, had indicated during a visit to Kosovo that OTP investigators are looking into crimes committed by Albanian extremists, including members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA.

Her remarks prompted former KLA leader, Hasim Thaci, to issue a statement categorically denying KLA leaders are under investigation.

Tribunal prosecution spokesman, Paul Risley, said last week that perhaps Thaci was correct but added he would "not rely on his word."

The spokesman said journalists would do better to rely on the words of the chief prosecutor. Risley pointed out del Ponte had made it absolutely clear an investigation into crimes involving Serbian victims was underway in Kosovo.

"The mandate and the authority of this Tribunal and this prosecutor is for the investigation of the most senior persons responsible for a crime," Risley said. "You can draw your own conclusions from that."

Risley was also called upon to comment on a report by a Radio Free Europe journalist, which cited the OTP spokesman as confirming the prosecutor was investigating "journalists who could be responsible for war crimes" in former Yugoslavia."

The remarks quoted on RFE had prompted the local media in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia to speculate on possible "nominees for The Hague."

When asked by Tribunal Update to confirm or deny the statement, Risley said, "I would like to state for the record that we do not have any journalists under investigation in the former Yugoslavia."

Risley added, however, that such an eventuality should not be ruled out for the future.

"To some degree the reporter for the RFE put words into my mouth and implied that I had confirmed that there were on-going investigations," Risley said. The spokesman said it was in the nature of Tribunal's work not to identify those under investigation until prosecutors are prepared to make an indictment.

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