David J. Scheffer
Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues
On-the-Record Briefing on "War Crimes Rewards Program"
Released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State, March 2, 2000
Mr. Foley: Welcome to the State Department. We have an announcement today and a briefing concerning our Rewards Program for indicted war criminals. With us to lead the briefing is our Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Ambassador David Scheffer, and he'll be assisted by the Director of the Diplomatic Security Service, Pete Bergin. And with that I will introduce Ambassador Scheffer. And following his announcement, then he'll be pleased with Mr. Bergin to take your questions.
Ambassador Scheffer: Thank you, Jim. In late May of last year, shortly after President Slobodan Milosevic and four other senior government officials in Belgrade were indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Kosovo, the State Department launched a Rewards Program that offers to pay rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of persons indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Today we are taking a further step in support of the Rewards for Justice Program. You might call it "Operation Saturation," in that we are distributing throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia this poster, which identifies three of the international community's most-wanted: Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, and Ratko Mladic. We are putting a sharp focus on these three indictees because it is time they should face justice for the heinous crimes for which they are charged.
We also believe that the time has come for these individuals to move from the region to The Hague, so their influence will no longer impede the efforts of those citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia who want to advance democracy and the rule of law.
We want to encourage anyone who can provide information that would help in the arrest of indictees to come forward. The identity of anyone who has information will be protected and the confidentiality of the information will be preserved. The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General, has the authority to pay any such individual a reward that, by any standards, is impressive.
Let me emphasize that the Rewards Program applies to all indicted fugitives of the International Tribunal and can even be applied with respect to the apprehension of a suspect who has not yet been indicted but who is subsequently charged by the Tribunal. If the Tribunal decides that anyone it indicts should be prosecuted not in The Hague but at the national level, a person who provides information to help in the arrest of that indictee is still eligible to receive the reward.
There are currently 30 individuals who have been publicly indicted by the International Tribunal and who are at large. While Milosevic, Karadzic, and Mladic are well-known because of their past or present leadership roles, and the seriousness of the charges against them, we are determined that all those indicted by the International Tribunal ultimately must face trial.
I might add here that the reason we have certain imagery juxtaposed with the poster is to simply indicate that, with respect to both Mr. Karadzic and Mr. Mladic some of the major charges against them are with respect to the Srebenica massacre, which is represented by the image of 17 July 1995, which you have seen before. This is not new imagery. And then I think just below that is imagery that you have seen before but which represents the charges brought against Slobodan Milosevic for the campaign in Kosovo last year and, obviously, the killing that took place there.
The Rewards Program is designed as one of several tools to achieve the objective of bringing these individuals to justice. We will continue to look at a variety of means to bring indictees to justice.
It is important to recognize the achievements of the International Tribunal to date, as there often seems to be the impression that without Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic in custody, the tribunal has somehow failed in its mission. To date, 44 indicted individuals have been taken into custody by the International Tribunal. Thirty-five of these indictees are currently in custody. The difference between 44 and 35 reflects deaths, acquittals, and several dismissals of charges. SFOR, or its predecessor IFOR, has detained 17 indictess in Bosnia and Herzegovina and transferred them to The Hague. Among the 35 indictees in custody and at various stages of pre-trail, trial or sentencing are a number of senior military and civilian leaders indicted for crimes during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. These include General Momir Talic, indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity; General Radislav Krstic, indicted for his role at Srebenica, and his trial commences soon; Major General Stanislav Galic, indicted for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war and who led the siege of Sarajevo; Radislav Brdjanin, a civilian leader of the ethnic cleansing in the Prijedor region; Dario Kordic, indicted for leading an ethnic cleansing campaign in central Bosnia; General Tihomir Blaskic, also indicted for leading the ethnic cleansing of central Bosnia and whose verdict will be announced tomorrow in The Hague; Vinko Martinovic or "Stela," indicted for crimes in the important city of Mostar; and Goran Jelisic, a commander of the notoriuos "Luka" camp in Brcko and the self-professed Serbian "Adolf," sentenced to 40 years in prison last December.
The Tribunal this week began the trial of four defendants for their role in killings and torture at the Omarska camp in northwest Bosnia. Later this month, the Tribunal will begin the historic trial of General Radislav Krstic for his role in the Srebrenica massacre. The United States has worked hard to assist the Prosecutor in preparing this case in ways that will be apparent when the trial begins later this month. We believe General Krstic's trial will remind those who thought that they could cover up their war crimes, that their efforts have failed. On March 20th the Foca trial will begin against three defendants.
In addition to the International Tribunal's work in bringing justice to the victims of violence in the former Yugoslavia, the Tribunal has also established a body of jurisprudence that has significantly advanced international humanitarian law. This is an important point that must not be overlooked.
We hope that by broadly disseminating today's wanted poster in a wide variety of languages and by other means of publicity that will be unveiled in the coming days, the Rewards Program will become more widely known. We intend to launch a media blitz in the region shortly. We hope that the Rewards Program will be taken advantage of by individuals who have information that can lead to efforts to apprehend indictees who remain at large.
Let me further just point to the poster itself and the Internet website which can receive information on a confidential basis. Also, as these posters are put up overseas, there will be an additional part at the bottom that has the relevant numbers and coordinates for the US Embassy, Consulate or other location whereby individuals can provide information.
Before I take questions, I just want to announce another development that occurred this morning with respect to the other war crimes tribunal, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The Secretary of State this morning signed the warrant for the surrender of indicted war criminal Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania to stand trial. We expect the transfer to take place shortly. As many of you know, for some time he has been in federal detention in Laredo, Texas. He has appealed his case through the federal court system. He has lost at every level. And the Secretary today signed the papers for his transfer to Arusha.
Question: Could you spell his name for us again?
Ambassador Scheffer: Yes. It's Ntakirutimana.
Question: This is the guy who was in Texas, right?
Ambassador Scheffer: Yes.
Question: Is that his first name or second name?
Ambassador Scheffer: Elizaphan, E-l-i-z-a-p-h-a-n.
Question: With respect to President Milosevic, I mean it's obvious where he is. You have the address and so forth. What are the arguments against sending some sort of military team in there and arresting him?
Ambassador Scheffer: Well, there's no authority to do so at this time. As you know, SFOR only operates on Bosnian territory. It does not operate on Serbian territory. It has no authority to do so. But beyond that, we hope that by more broadly publicizing and showing this poster that it will clearly encourage those who perhaps are in close proximity to these individuals who can provide very valuable information either with respect to how they may ultimately end up in The Hague or information that would facilitate the prosecutor's efforts to convict these individuals, that those individuals are encouraged to step forward and provide that information and receive a handsome financial reward in return.
Question: Just a technical one. What languages actually are these going to be released?
Ambassador Scheffer: These will be in Serbian, Croatian, Russian, German, and English. Those are the languages that we have selected so far.
Question: How many copies are you printing, initially?
Ambassador Scheffer: I would have to turn to DS for that. What's our initial run on this?
Mr. Bergin: Ten thousand.
Ambassador Scheffer: Ten thousand. Question: As I understand it, Karadzic and Mladic are known to be in the Bosnian Serb Republic and -
Ambassador Scheffer: No, that's not true. Mladic is in Serbia. He's in the Belgrade area of Serbia. That's well known. And Karadzic is in the Pale and other southeastern municipality area of Bosnia. And, of course, Milosevic is in Serbia.
Question: Does SFOR not have access to the Pale? Excuse my ignorance but can they not -
Ambassador Scheffer: Yes, it does.
Question: Could you perhaps explain, since this is topical, what prevents them from going to where he is known to be and arrest him? Is it simply to avoid a military confrontation with the people protecting him?
Ambassador Scheffer: Well, remember that Mr. Karadzic is one of many indictees. I do want to emphasize that SFOR has taken into custody 17 so far. There are always risks involved in any operation that SFOR undertakes. Also remember that the mandate of SFOR is if it encounters these individuals, and if it's within its means and capabilities, it has the authority to actually undertake one of these operations. And all I can say is that there are very, very determined efforts to continue to try to bring every indictee into custody, and that includes efforts with respect to Mr. Karadzic. I've often said before the press before that there is an element of patience that has to be experienced with respect to some of these indictees. These crimes have not statutes of limitations. We would hope that with respect to Mr. Karadzic, he would see the wisdom of voluntarily surrendering. He seems to believe very strongly in the justification for his conduct. He needs to provide that justification before the Tribunal instead of avoiding that opportunity.
Question: If I could just paraphrase that, you would rather he is arrested or captured through information provided by some third party than by risking confrontation -
Ambassador Scheffer: It would be very useful if individuals who have information that is extremely useful about Mr. Karadzic for purposes of arrest would come forward with that information so that an arrest, in fact, would be more greatly facilitated.
Question: A few questions. First of all, what sort of information would be useful for someone like Karadzic to -- you just said where he lives, what else do you need to know?
Ambassador Scheffer: Well, there is much more, but I will not go into operational details in this kind of briefing. I will simply say that, clearly, information that ultimately can lead to his arrest would be extremely helpful and that includes many aspects of location, of how he conducts himself day and night, etc.
Question: I have another question. The reward was announced -- I don't remember when exactly, I think --
Ambassador Scheffer: If it was May of 1999 when we first announced this.
Question: But it didn't -- at the time it didn't have sort of this big publicity aspect to it. Can you say if you've received any tips since then? I mean some --
Ambassador Scheffer: We have been receiving information through this program since May, and that has been useful. We do feel, however, that the knowledge about this Rewards Program indeed is not well known in the region, and it's one of the reasons why we now want to very openly and as broadly as possible make this Rewards Program known. It is interesting that there is money to be earned out there by individuals who could take advantage of this Rewards Program, and we hope that that occurs.
Question: David, in other cases applicable to terrorists, matchbooks have been distributed. People in the Balkans are known to smoke. Is there consideration given to that?
Ambassador Scheffer: Right. Well, we did distribute this matchbook starting in May. It simply has -- it has a photo of an actual atrocity on it, as opposed to these photos. This matchbook is in the region. Part of what I said, meaning that there would be other methods of distributing this information, includes this kind of methodology. And so this is going to be further stages of making this more broadly disseminated in the region. But, yes, matchbooks, fliers. I said a media blitz. That means being on the relevant television and radio networks in the region far more aggressively than we have been in the past to make this program well known.
Question: You mean with the pictures of those three gentlemen on it?
Ambassador Scheffer: Yes, yes.
Question: Since you're obviously aiming at the people who are in the vicinity of those individuals -- and you said they'll be anonymous and so forth - would you consider granting them some sort of immunity if the people are themselves involved -- the informants?
Ambassador Scheffer: I think that would have to be considered on a case-by-case basis. We're not dismissing that. But, of course, when you say immunity, I think what you're really talking about there is the Yugoslav Tribunal, and I can't speak for them on this issue. I think you'd have to ask them as to whether or not on any particular case they would consider that to be a worthwhile undertaking.
Question: From your point of view since you are offering the reward, presume that such an individual gives you valid information, would you then pass that information to the court and saying this is the person who gave us the information, or not?
Ambassador Scheffer: Well, remember -- not necessarily, because some of this information might be information that leads towards the actual arrest of the individual and then transfer to The Hague, and that does not necessarily involve the Tribunal at every step of the procedure.
Question: So then it's possible, theoretically, that Mladic could turn in Karadzic or give you information and you wouldn't reveal -- you know, he would still be out there.
Ambassador Scheffer: That would be a very interesting possibility. We would like to explore that.
Question: But, I mean, following on his question, I mean it's possible that another indictee, someone close to Karadzic, someone close to Mladic, who has been indicted could do that -- give you the information. And then would you be duty bound to pass that on to the Tribunal?
Ambassador Scheffer:: No, it is at the discretion at the Secretary of State in consultation with the Attorney General. And, in fact, Pete, I think even if an indictee were to provide information that would lead to the arrest of - an indictee in custody, is that what you're --
Question: No, I'm talking about another guy that's out there.
Ambassador Scheffer: Oh, then let's take that on a case-by-case basis, okay? Let's see what pops up.
Question: About this "Operation Saturation" you're talking about, is there any SFOR element of this in terms of a more aggressive strategy on their part to coordinate with this media blitz, or are you doing this sort of unilaterally?
Ambassador Scheffer: No, this is strictly a US Government effort at this stage.
Question: My question follows up on that. Do you know if other governments are also putting similar efforts our, or is there any coordination?
Ambassador Scheffer: We're not aware of similar efforts but we clearly invite similar efforts. We would more than hope to encourage other governments with an interest in this issue to offer similar programs.
Question: Since the two of these guys appear to be inside Serbia proper, have you considered any methods of publicizing this offer within Serbia, for example by dropping leaflets from planes or from broadcasting --
Ambassador Scheffer: Absolutely. Absolutely. This poster will be publicized in Serbia, but I do not want to describe to you the means by which we will accomplish that. It will simply happen.
Question: Do you think the people in Serbia will know?
Ambassador Scheffer: Well, they may -- I would assume some Serbian authorities may be upset, but that comes with the turf.
Question: I'm just a little curious as to why the US is doing this and why it's not -- is it just because this program is up and running here and the ICTY doesn't have the same capability of doing this? I'm just -- why aren't they doing it or why aren't you giving money to them to do it?
Ambassador Scheffer: Well, it's interesting. It's interesting. I don't think the ICTY, as far as I know, has ever requested of the UN a budgetary appropriation for this purpose. We did so with Congress, and we had tremendous bipartisan support in Congress for this program, so we just did it.
Question: They didn't ask you to do it?
Ambassador Scheffer: No, the Tribunal did not ask us to do this, but the Tribunal is not objecting to our doing this either.
Question: A question about the Rwanda Tribunals.
Ambassador Scheffer: Yes.
Question: Please refresh my memory. I thought that that tribunal had not ended but that government in the region had stopped helping the tribunal because one person who was supposed to have been intimately involved in calling people and broadcasting the massacre had, in fact, gotten off.
Ambassador Scheffer: No. Actually it's somewhat different. I just came back from Arusha. The government of Rwanda a few weeks ago resumed full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. There had been a period of time, a couple of months, in which that cooperation had been suspended because of the government of Rwanda's disagreement with the Appeals Chamber ruling in the Barayagwiza case, but that cooperation has now been restored. We encourage the restoration of that cooperation. The Appeals Chamber is now deliberating its final decision on the Barayagwiza case as to whether or not that particular indictee indeed will be released by the Tribunal. And even if he is released, to what fate will he be released to is I think the critical question. But in terms of cooperation, that has been restored now between the government of Rwanda and the Tribunal.
Question: And this man will be taken where? Who is being extradited here?
Ambassador Scheffer: The Appeals Chamber has not rendered its decision on that issue. The government of Rwanda has filed an amicus brief with the Appeals Chamber seeking his transfer to Rwanda for prosecution in the event the Rwanda Tribunal decides not to prosecute him. And they pledged in that amicus brief two important points, one, that they would not, repeat, not seek the death penalty against Barayagwiza and they would not enforce it even if rendered; and secondly, that they would hold a very transparent and rigorous trial in full accordance with international standards of due process. So they have made that commitment. But again, I say it's now being deliberated by the Appeals Chamber.
Question: Again, this was not the case of the indicting in Texas today?
Ambassador Scheffer: No, no, we're talking about a different individual. Barayagwiza has been in detention for quite some time.
Question: (Inaudible) the Texan?
Ambassador Scheffer: The Texan is -- well, literally, today he's still in Laredo. But the papers have now been signed for his relatively immediate transfer to Arusha. I mean, it will be up to the US Marshals to determine the precise day and time that he is actually flown to Arusha with all security considerations in mind.
Question: I have a question about the rewards. Have you considered the fact that the concept of up to $5 million rewards is largely unknown in the Eastern Europe. I come originally from Yugoslavia, and I know that people there do not really know what concept of up to means, because it obviously involves some kind of bargaining, and people won't know that when -- people would like to know when they, you know, do something how much would they get in reward.
Ambassador Scheffer: Exactly how much. Well, we thought it was --
Question: And excuse me - just one more thing. Is it $5 million for all three of them or $5 million for each one?
Ambassador Scheffer: Oh no, I think we have to literally read it as up to $5 million for each individual, okay, but --
Question: - -- who gives information.
Ambassador Scheffer: Right, for each individual who gives information with respect to any of these individuals. So, literally, you could have one human being that earns, literally, $5 million is the hypothetical. But when we say "up to," at least in our understanding of that, that is something that is at the discretion of the Secretary of State to determine exactly how much it would be up to a limit of $5 million. And I don't think it's a question of negotiation literally, but I think we can assure the people of the former Yugoslavia and of Eastern Europe is that for any particular information that truly does lead to the arrest or conviction of any of these individuals, the amount is handsome.
Question: David, perhaps Pete Bergin can speak to the historical --
Ambassador Scheffer: Yes, please. Pete, come up.
Mr. Bergin: We have, in the terrorist program, have issued about a little over $6 million to a little bit more than 20 -- in 20 cases. And the highest amount that we've paid out is $2 million, and they've ranged anywhere from 50,000 to $2 million. And it really depends. The payment of the reward depends on the magnitude of the information that's provided that leads to the apprehension of these criminals.
Question: Is there any appeal process against the amount of the reward or is it --
Mr. Bergin: Is there an appeals process? No, not really. And I would restate what David has said that it really is at the discretion of the Secretary in consultation with the Attorney General.
Question: Did any of the recipients complain bitterly about the size of the --
Mr. Bergin: We've registered no complaints.
Question: What was the $2 million case? What case was that?
Mr. Bergin: Because the program -- one of the principal components of this program is that the sources are treated with absolute confidentiality, and that includes the amount that we've paid them. And it's at their request.
Question: Well, I don't want to know the person who got it's name; I want to know what case it was in which the award was given.
Mr. Bergin: It really is not appropriate to get into that.
Question: Well, then, so how do we know you've given any money away?
Question: You just have to believe him.
Question: I mean, you know, basically there's just this money that you say you're giving away. And, you know, how do we know it's out there? Have you got a canceled check?
Mr. Bergin: I mean, I told you. I think you'll have to take me at my word.
Ambassador Scheffer: There is another point that is we do notify the Congress when we do pay out these rewards.
Question: My question is actually back to Mr. Scheffer. Could you tell me again what verdict is expected tomorrow? I wasn't scribbling fast enough.
Ambassador Scheffer: Oh, I have no idea what verdict will be expected tomorrow on Mr. Blaskic.
Question: No, not how it will turn out. On whom.
Ambassador Scheffer: Oh, it's General Blaskic, and that was announced today publicly or at least I saw it on the wire reports today. So it's pretty much out there that General Blaskic, who was indicted for leading the ethnic cleansing in central Bosnia, that his verdict will be announced tomorrow in The Hague.
Question: Ambassador Scheffer, do you have any contact with new Croatian Government about war crime issues?
Ambassador Scheffer: Yes, we have - not only I, personally, but also our Ambassador, Ambassador Montgomery, has been in touch with them and, of course, Secretary Albright was recently in Zagreb for the inauguration ceremonies. We're very, very encouraged by the spirit being demonstrated by the new Croatian Government and we think it's a government that not only we but the Tribunal should be able to work very closely with to fulfill all of the obligations of cooperation with the Tribunal.
Question: My memory is slipping. Is it the French or the Italians in charge in Pale, the Pale area? It's the French, right?
Ambassador Scheffer: That's the French sector, yes.
Question: And have you been in touch with them prior to your making this announcement to tell them about this?
Ambassador Scheffer: No. Not I, personally, no. I'm not sure if there's been any other sort of contact with the French regarding the Rewards Program announcement of today. They certainly have been very aware of the Rewards Program being in existence since May of 1999.
Question: But the posters are being printed in French. You're not expecting too much cooperation from the --
Ambassador Scheffer: Well, we might take that under advisement, actually.
Question: David, could I ask an out-of-area question? Do you have any thoughts on the return home of Pinochet?
Ambassador Scheffer: I would simply say that we respect the decisions reached by the British Government with respect to the disposition of General Pinochet, and we also are very respectful of the processes that have developed over the last 16 months in Chile. It's different today than it was 16 months ago in Chile on issues of this nature.
And I would point you also to what the Chilean Foreign Ministry itself said this morning with respect to the imminent return of General Pinochet. There are 59 complaints, as I understand it, or cases that are in Chilean courts with respect to General Pinochet, but we have a high degree of confidence in the capabilities of the Chilean Government and court system to proceed ahead.
Question: For Mr. Bergin, a quick clarification. You said $6 million in 20 cases. Is that only indicted war criminals or is that the terrorist angle as well?
Mr. Bergin: No, that's -- thus far it's terrorism. We have not issued any rewards to any war criminals.
Question: Thank you.
Question: Just another very quick detail. These poster, 10,000 posters, where are you going to put them, exactly?
Ambassador Scheffer: The first objective is to saturate Bosnia, and that includes Republika Srpska as well as --
Question: I mean, you're going to put them on walls and buildings?
Ambassador Scheffer: I mean, I kind of leave that to my DS experts as to where exactly they're placed. Pete, you probably have more experience in this decision.
Mr. Bergin: I mean, they've been placed in local post offices, airports, embassies, things of that sort.
Question: Are they already in the area now? Have you already sent them out before you unveiled them to us? And is the Secretary going to be doing anything with this when she's in Bosnia next week?
Ambassador Scheffer: On the latter, I'll leave that for her to decide a bit later. But in terms of actual distribution of the posters, as I understand it, the actual distribution has not yet commenced. We're just announcing that it is commencing.
Question: How long will it be before they are actually up there? Days, weeks?
Ambassador Scheffer: Very shortly. I would say within a matter of weeks.
Question: Have you talked to the government or the Prime Minister Dodik in Republika Srpska about it as well?
Ambassador Scheffer: Well, I myself talked with Prime Minister Dodik -- you said Prime Minister Dodik, right -- when he visited Washington in the fall of 1999 because the Rewards Program had already been up and running since May. And I told him at the time that we intend to upgrade the visibility of the Rewards Program in due course in Republika Srpska, so he was given fair notice during that meeting.
Question: Do you have something for us, you know?
Ambassador Scheffer: Oh, I'm sorry. We do have posters for you. Someone has them over here to pass out. In the press office you get your own copy.
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