Del Ponte says Serbian cooperation with ICTY 'still too slow'
Leslie Schulman at 3:46 PM ET
[JURIST] Carla Del Ponte [official profile], the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website], on Monday chided Serbian authorities for failing to bring to justice [statement] four accused war criminals who are believed to be hiding in that country, saying that Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal is "still too slow and not yet sufficient." In her address to the Council of the European Union, Del Ponte said:
The refusal to provide access to certain archives and the delay in providing documents seriously affects our work. Although there has been progress, we believe that the level of assistance provided by Serbian authorities in providing documents remains insufficient and does not match their declared political commitment. ... Del Ponte has repeatedly criticized Serbia for failing to bring to justice the four war crimes suspects believed to be hiding there: former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [ICTY case backgrounder; BBC profile], former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder; JURIST news archive], former Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic [JURIST report], and Bosnian Serb police commander Stojan Zupljanin [ICTY indictment].
As a result of my most recent visit to Belgrade , the Serbian authorities had pledged to take certain measures to improve their cooperation with the Tribunal. One of these measures was to launch a nation-wide campaign to reward those that provide information leading to the location or arrest of the Tribunal's fugitives. As I mentioned earlier, I was pleased to learn last Thursday that the National Security Council had decided to launch such campaign, which, in my view, sends a very strong signal. The Serbian authorities had also pledged to pass a law which would expand the role of the War Crimes Prosecutor to include jurisdiction over those who aid and abet war crimes fugitives. This law has not yet been adopted. Finally, the authorities have pledged to propose legislation that would freeze assets of those supporting fugitives. We are still waiting for that law to be passed as well. I believe that these initiatives could greatly assist in the search for fugitives and should be implemented immediately....
In conclusion, please permit me to be very frank as has always been my custom: I confirm that the situation today is better than it was a year ago. However, cooperation is still too slow and not yet sufficient. The fact that Ratko Mladic is still at large after all the promises and declarations that have been made over the years clearly demonstrates that fact. I am absolutely convinced that Serbia 's Government possesses the resources and the means to locate and arrest the fugitives. Translating this ability into tangible results remains the principal obstacle. Therefore, I cannot give a positive assessment of full cooperation until Ratko Mladic is arrested and transferred to The Hague.
Last month, Serbia had said it would increase efforts [JURIST report] to locate and arrest these suspects in order to receive a favorable report from Del Ponte during her briefing of EU officials on the EU's pending pre-membership deal with the country. AP has more.
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