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Ban Ki-moon calls for efforts to bring Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitives to trial

Ban Ki-moon calls for efforts to bring Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitives to trial

Ban Ki-Moon and Philippe Kirsch
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today visited the United Nations war crimes court for the Balkans wars in The Hague, Netherlands, and called for action by Security Council members to help bring the two principal Bosnian Serb fugitives, Radovan Karadžic and Ratko Mladic, to trial.

“I know that there is a sense of frustration for not being able to complete what they are mandated to do because of non-cooperation, non-availability of those people indicted,” Mr. Ban told reporters after conferring with the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Fausto Pocar.

“This is a matter to be closely coordinated and consulted with the members of the Security Council,” he said. “I take this opportunity to urge again to those responsible perpetrators – Karadžic and Mladic – to appear before the court for trial, for the interest and the benefit for themselves as well as for the benefit of international peace and security.”

Both men face charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war.

Last month, ICTY Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte told the Security Council it should consider keeping the tribunal open beyond its current completion timeline until whenever Mr. Karadžic and Mr. Mladic can be tried.

She criticized the Serbian Government and the authorities in the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina for not showing “a robust willingness” to arrest the men even though her office had frequently supplied accurate and detailed information on their whereabouts.

Under its present schedule the ICTY is to complete all trials at the first instance by 2008, and wind up all its work, including appeals, by the end of 2010.

Mr. Ban also visited and met with the chief officials of the two other major tribunals based in The Hague, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is the UN’s highest judicial body.

ICC President Judge Philippe Kirsch thanked Mr. Ban for the UN’s sustained support and emphasized the importance of continued cooperation. “Though the ICC is independent from the UN, the two institutions operate in a context of interdependence,” he said.

The Secretary-General later met with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and had a working luncheon with him. He told reporters afterwards that he was considering increasing the presence of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) office in the southern part of that country.