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Belgrade Unco-operative with War Crimes Tribunal


Prosecutor Decries Belgrade's Lack Of Cooperation With UN War Crimes Tribunal

Charging that Serbia and Montenegro is still failing to cooperate with the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia despite the public claims of its political leaders, the court's chief Prosecutor today demanded the country either arrest a recently indicted Croatian Serb leader or face disciplinary action from the Security Council.

Carla Del Ponte told a press conference in The Hague, where the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sits, that Goran Hadzic, is now a fugitive after disappearing from his home last Tuesday - the same day the ICTY secretly sent a copy of his indictment to authorities in Belgrade.

The 45-year old suspect faces eight charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, torture and extermination, and six charges of violating the laws or customs of war for his alleged role in an ethnic cleansing campaign in present-day Croatia between 1991 and 1993.

Ms. Del Ponte said there are now 22 fugitives from the ICTY, with most at large within Serbia and Montenegro. http://www.un.org/icty/latest/index.htm

"The events of last week constitute the second time since the beginning of the year when we actually can see for ourselves indictees [that had been] located by my Office fleeing in a hurry just hours after the Belgrade authorities had been requested to act upon arrest warrants," she said.

Ms. Del Ponte said the behaviour contrasted sharply with the recent public statements by Serbia and Montenegro's Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and President that cooperation with the ICTY was now a priority for the country.

She added that Belgrade faces a choice of putting "its actions where its mouth is," by arresting Mr. Hadzic immediately and transferring him to The Hague, or doing nothing, in which case it will be breaching its obligations to the ICTY under international law.

Ms. Del Ponte said that if Serbia and Montenegro chooses not to act, she will ask ICTY President Judge Theodor Meron to request the Security Council take action against the country.

Judge Meron and Ms. Del Ponte have criticized Serbia and Montenegro repeatedly in recent years over the country's persistent unwillingness to cooperate with the ICTY, which was set up to try those responsible for crimes committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

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