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War crimes judge, former Yugosl. urges cooperation

War crimes judge for former Yugoslavia urges full cooperation to seize fugitives

The historic achievements of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will be tarnished if seven senior-level accused still at large are not brought to justice, the court’s president has told the General Assembly.

“We ask for the full cooperation of all Member States as we seek to bring to justice the perpetrators of the atrocities that scarred the Balkans in the 1990s, devastating hundreds of thousands of lives,” Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslav (ICTY), said yesterday.

He specifically mentioned Radovan Karadžic and Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serbs indicted as suspected engineers of “the horrific Srebrenica massacres,” where some 7,900 Muslim men and boys were summarily executed in what the Tribunal has recognized as genocide, and Ante Gotovina, a Croatian indicted for his actions against Serbs.

“It is plain: a dark shadow will be cast over the Tribunal’s historic accomplishments if senior-level accused have not been brought to justice at The Hague,” Mr. Meron declared. “We must work together to guard against this threat to the legacy of the Tribunal and to international justice.”

Despite a dramatic increase in the number of indictees transferred to the Tribunal thanks to the efforts of the authorities from both Serbia and Montenegro and Republika Srpska, part of the Bosnian federation, the Serbian Government has not executed other arrest warrants and five of the seven accused remaining at large, including Mr. Mladic, are believed to be in Serbia and Montenegro or the Republika Srpska, he said.

“Overall, the Republika Srpska’s level of cooperation with the Tribunal remains insufficient, as it has provided no information on Karadžic and Mladic, and has failed to transfer war time documentation to The Hague,” he added.

Croatia’s level of cooperation remains satisfactory in most areas, with the marked exception of the failure to apprehend Mr. Gotovina, he noted.

Mr. Meron, who steps down next month as president but will continue as an Appeals Chamber Judge, stressed that the Tribunal’s benefits are felt far beyond the Balkans. “The ICTY’s work has further challenged the notorious tradition of impunity for senior officials who commit the most serious international crimes. During its 11 years in existence, the Tribunal has also shown that transparent international justice is viable,” he said.

“As the Tribunal moves 10 years beyond the atrocities at Srebrenica, the continued support of the international community is more important than ever in order to demonstrate to the world that such crimes will not be tolerated and will not go unpunished.”

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