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'Ojdanic Case' Closed

Tribunal Update No. 177 (Last week in The Hague, May 22-27, 2000)

Ojdanic is one of five named in the "Milosevic and Others" indictment made public in May 1999.

Alexandr Khodakov, Russian ambassador to the Netherlands, met Jorda on Wednesday (May 24) to explain why the arrest warrant for Ojdanic had not been acted on. According to a Tribunal statement, the ambassador had reiterated the resolve of the Russian government to co-operate with the ICTY.

Jorda, the statement concluded, was satisfied with the explanation given and considered the matter "closed".

Deputy prosecutor, Graham Blewitt, told Tribunal Update that the Prosecutor's office, OTP, found it "extraordinary" that such a thing could happen, "that the Russians did not have in place procedures that would identify an indicted accused entering their territory."

"We are reassured that it will not happen again," Blewitt said, "but it is very difficult to understand how it happened in the first place."

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov recently criticised the Tribunal, labeling it "politicised" and in need of reform. Blewitt said the OTP had noted Ivanov's comments and that the chief prosecutor would seek a meeting to "discuss these issues."

"We reject such allegations," Blewitt added. "We are here to do a job that was given to us by the Security Council of the UN. That is what we are doing - we investigate and when we have sufficient evidence we launch prosecutions."

Blewitt also touched on the "criticisms" made by the Yugoslav justice minister in a letter allegedly addressed to Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte last week. The letter had described del Ponte has an "American whore."

Blewitt said the OTP had yet to receive the letter, "I am sure that this letter was meant for internal consumption. It is mere propaganda. It is of course an outrageous letter but it's something that we dismiss as part of the paranoia of the Belgrade authorities."

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