|03THEHAGUE1392||2003-06-02 15:35:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy The Hague|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (U) CLASSIFIED BY: Clifton M. Johnson, Legal Counselor.
Reason: 1.5(D) and 1.6.
2. (C) Summary. According to Chief of Investigations
Patrick Lopez-Terres of the International Criminal Tribunal
for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), cooperation with Belgrade
authorities has not significantly improved since December.
Despite the positive press that accompanied Chief Prosecutor
Carla Del Ponte's recent visit to Belgrade, Lopez-Terres
maintains that Serb authorities were still responding to
requests for documents and requests for waivers for witnesses
only under strong pressure from the ICTY if at all. Del
Ponte,s Political Adviser, Jean-Daniel Ruch, provided a
similar, downbeat, assessment, suggesting that the new era in
SAM/ICTY cooperation may be short-lived unless the OTP
quickly sees tangible results. End summary.
3. (C) Lopez-Terres, who accompanied Del Ponte on her recent
visit, refused to
identify the exact number of outstanding requests except to
say that there were
"tens of requests" outstanding and that many were
substantive. He also
indicated that the Prosecutor was still locked in a fight
with the Serbs regarding a so-called Rule 54 bis motion
(Note: Rule 54 bis is used by the Prosecutor to request an
order compelling a State to produce documents or information.
End note). Lopez-Terres cited the fact that the Prosecution
had to resort to Rule 54 bis coupled with the fact that there
had been no movement on this issue by the Serbs since
December as evidence of continued Serb intransigence.
4. (C) Lopez-Terres also complained bitterly about the Serb
fugitive war criminals. Exasperated, he stated that the
Serbs seemed to
believe that the arrest and transfer of Veselin Sljivancanin
-- wanted for the
Vukovar massacres -- would somehow obviate the need for the
Serbs to arrest and
transfer any of the other fugitive war criminals, many of who
the OTP believes are hiding in Serbia.
5. (C) Lopez-Terres did admit that there had been some
on the Serb commitment to set up its own war crimes court.
however, that this was clearly a long-term effort that was
only now in the
conceptual stage. He, in turn, was more focused on the
requests for access to state archives, that had yet to be
answered by Serb
authorities. The failure to answer these requests, he
maintained, and, in particular, the failure to grant the
waivers necessary for some witnesses to testify were damaging
the Prosecutor's ability to complete investigations and
5. (C) When asked by an embassy legal officer to square
positive local and
international press reporting of Del Ponte's recent visit
with his own very
negative assessment, Lopez-Terres at first dodged the issue
not wanting to be put in a position where he was
contradicting the Prosecutor.
When pressed, however, he resorted to a middle ground,
suggesting that the
press had made more of the statements than was warranted.
6. (C) Political Adviser Ruch sounded a similarly downbeat
note. He bluntly noted that despite the "nice atmosphere"
and assurances flowing from the meetings, there had been "no
change" in Serb cooperation toward the ICTY. Tracking many
of points raised separately by Lopes-Terres, he first
highlighted the lack of progress in arresting and
transferring Mladic and Sljivancanin. While conceding that
the transfer of Radic was a positive step, he was dismissive
of ongoing efforts to transfer Stanisic and Simatovic noting
that these transfers were in the SAM,s interest and required
little political will.
7. (C) With respect to document transfers and testimony
authorization, Ruch similarly noted that while the OTP and
SAM had reached an understanding on a process for giving the
OTP access to the documents it needed in exchange for an OTP
commitment to support appropriate protective measures aimed
at preventing the shared documents from being used against
SAM in the ICJ case, the process itself was "too cumbersome"
and was already showing signs of not working. He explained
that under the agreed approach, OTP would identify specific
documents of interest, SAM would then locate and show them to
OTP investigators, OTP would then identify the specific
documents or excerpts that they wished to introduce as
evidence, SAM would then consider and request protective
measures, the OTP would then confirm that it could support
the requested protective measures, at which point an internal
SAM process would review and approve the documents for
release. Ruch noted that as a first test of this process the
OTP had immediately delivered to SAM a request for access to
certain documents but that SAM had yet to respond and move
the process to the second step by providing access to OTP.
Given this situation, the OTP intended to press forward with
an order compelling production under Rule 54 bis.
8. (C) Ruch summed up by stating that the OTP believed
there was "no change" in Serb cooperation with the ICTY and
that it was "the same" as before Del Ponte,s recent trip to
the United States. Underscoring the point, he passed on a
copy of May 23 letter to the Secretary from five members of
Congress which stated that progress towards meeting
certification requirements "remains insufficient." He
intimated that the OTP had been involved in the letter and
shared its assessment.
9. (C) Comment: Lopez-Terres and Ruch are Del Ponte,s
closest confidants on substantive matters in the OTP. As
such, their uniform emphasis on the negative aspects of
Belgrade,s cooperation are a striking and surprising
contrast to the upbeat tone offered by Del Ponte in her
public statements following her Belgrade visit (See Reftel).
While Lopez-Terres was very careful not to directly
contradict Del Ponte's public statements, it was also clear,
from Lopez-Terres' day-to-day, operational standpoint, that
little of substance had changed; that it was, in Lopez-Terres
own words, "business as usual" with Serb authorities. One
explanation for the divergence is that Del Ponte is simply
out of touch with actual developments on the ground with
respect to SAM cooperation. More likely, given the sources,
the comments of Lopez-Terres and Ruch track her own view and
indicate that her positive public statements were a
calculated effort at seeing whether a change in the
atmospherics of the SAM/ICTY relationship might deliver
better results than her previous more combative approach.
Given the comments of those closest to her on these issues,
it appears that this honeymoon will be short-lived unless the
SAM acts quickly to satisfy an impatient OTP. End Comment.