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Cooperation from Belgrade ‘selective and limited,’ UN war crimes prosecutor says

Cooperation from Belgrade ‘selective and limited,’ UN war crimes prosecutor says

The Chief Prosecutor for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said today that prosecution of those charged with war crimes was being thwarted by lack of cooperation from the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

“Were it not for the Milosevic trial, we would be in the same situation as last year,” Carla Del Ponte told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York. She added that the Tribunal faced obstruction by Yugoslav authorities and received only limited cooperation from Serbian authorities – and even that only after the international community put pressure on them. What cooperation was forthcoming was both “selective and limited,” she said.

Ms. Del Ponte explained that a key reason for her trip to UN Headquarters was to ask the international community to apply pressure on Yugoslavia, so that those charged with war crimes could actually be arrested and tried – the message she conveyed during her trip to the officials of the United States and other permanent members of the Security Council.

About half of the Tribunal's 32 fugitive indictees were presently in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Ms. Del Ponte said, and she was convinced both Yugoslav and Serbian authorities were fully aware of their whereabouts.

Until very recently, former Serbian strongman Ratko Mladic was “enjoying” official protection from the Yugoslav army with the blessing of the Federal Presidency, Ms. Del Ponte added, though she had been assured that this protection had now been removed.