Arrests of Balkan war crimes fugitives ‘absolute priority’ – UN prosecutor

16 January 2008

The new prosecutor of the United Nations tribunal judging war crimes committed in the Balkan conflict of the 1990s today appealed to the international community to help bring the four remaining fugitives to justice.

The arrests, particularly Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadžic, who led the Bosnian Serbs and are held primarily responsible for many of the worst atrocities in wars that claimed tens of thousands of lives, remains “an absolute priority,” Serge Brammertz said in The Hague, site of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

“The Office of the Prosecutor will therefore continue to rely on the crucial support and assistance of States in the former Yugoslavia and the international community to finally bring Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadžic, Goran Hadžic and Stojan Župljanin to justice.

“In the coming weeks, I plan to discuss issues related to cooperation with relevant authorities in the former Yugoslavia, as well as representatives of other States and international organisations, including those of the European Union,” he added.

Mr. Brammertz, a Belgian lawyer with long experience in tackling organized crime, terrorism and corruption, who previously led the independent UN probe of the 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, stressed the crucial importance of cooperation between his office and prosecution authorities in the former Yugoslavia.

“I am fully committed to building upon the Tribunal’s many achievements. We owe this to the victims of the crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia,” he concluded.

Mr. Brammertz succeeds Carla Del Ponte of Switzerland.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Departing prosecutor at UN tribunal laments Serbia’s failure to arrest suspects

Serbia continues to do nothing to arrest the two most notorious suspects from the 1990s Balkan wars, the outgoing Prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said today, declaring that her previous optimism that Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadžic might soon be in custody “has waned considerably.”