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UN war crimes tribunals report progress to Security Council

Top officials of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] told the UN Security Council [official website] Wednesday that international cooperation in tracking and arresting fugitives is vital to completion of the tribunals' mandates. This year saw the arrests of the last two remaining fugitives wanted by the ICTY, meaning none of the 161 persons indicted by the tribunal [materials] remain at large, but nine fugitives sought by ICTR have continued to escape capture, three of whom are among the most high-ranking of the accused. ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow called on the Member States of the Great Lakes Conference to provide information and aid in the apprehension of the remaining fugitives [UN News Centre report], as the trial work of the ICTR is due to be finished by the end of the second quarter of 2012, with appeals work finished by early 2014. ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz observed [ICTY press release] that the capture of the remaining ICTY fugitives means that tribunal is now fully occupied with finishing its trials and appeals in fulfillment of its completion strategy, but expressed concern over statements by high-level Croatian authorities that question the validity of the ICTY's work. On the other hand he noted that day-to-day cooperation with his office is proceeding well in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The presidents of the ICTR and ICTY, Judge Khalida Rachid Khan and Judge Theodor Meron [ICTY press release], also addressed the 15-member Security Council on the work of their respective courts.

Last month the two presidents told the UN General Assembly [official website] that the tribunals are in need of experienced staff to complete their work [JURIST report], warning of the difficulties in retaining staff at the ICTY and the ICTR because both tribunals are nearing the end of their work and employees are leaving for more permanent jobs. Currently the ICTY is preparing to try its last two fugitives, captured earlier this year. Serbian general Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; JURIST news archive] is being held pending his trial at The Hague following his May arrest [JURIST report] after 16 years on the run. He is charged with committing war crimes during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archive] and the Srebrenica massacre [JURIST news archive] where 8,000 people were killed. Croation Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic [ICTY backgrounder], who was arrested [JURIST report] in June, is also being held at The Hague pending his trial also on charges of war crimes committed during the Bosnian civil war and Srebrenica massacre. Last month the ICTR convicted [JURIST report] former Rwandan mayor Gregoire Ndahimana [HJP profile] of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. In September the court acquitted [JURIST report] two former Rwandan ministers, Casimir Bizimungu and Jerome Bicamumpaka, of genocide charges due to a lack of sufficient evidence. Rwandan genocide suspect and former Hutu militia leader Bernard Munyagishari is awaiting trial at the ICTR for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, alleged to have recruited, trained and led a militia group that killed and raped Tutsi women during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive].

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