[QODLink]
Europe
War crimes prosecutor to retire
Carla Del Ponte hopes Bosnian Serb fugitives will be arrested before she steps down.
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2007 22:33 GMT
Del Ponte hopes EU pressure on Serbia to hand over war crimes suspects will continue [GALLO/GETTY]

The chief prosecutor of the UN tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has said she hopes Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, and Ratko Mladic, his military chief, will be arrested before she retires in September.

Carla Del Ponte said she feared Belgrade might not hand over the two suspects if EU membership talks are resumed.
"My hope is to get Karadzic and Mladic before September when I must leave ... Let's see whether I will be a happy prosecutor or a frustrated prosecutor in September leaving The Hague," Del Ponte said.
The Swiss lawyer has said she will urge the European Union to keep up its pressure on Serbia to co-operate with the tribunal but has expressed fears that some countries are softening their stance on making the handover of Karadzic and Mladic a condition of entry talks.

"Now the situation is sensitive and delicate because some European Union states ... they think 'poor Serbia'," she said.

EU membership talks

The European Commission decided to freeze talks with Serbia in May last year after Belgrade failed to keep a promise to arrest Mladic, but Del Ponte said Italy, Austria and Spain were considering restarting negotiations.

"Mladic is within reach. I believe the [Serbian]
intelligence services know where he is"


Carla Del Ponte,
chief prosecutor of the UN tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
"I will try to underline the importance of the support of the European Union to obtaining Mladic and Karadzic," she said, adding Germany, France, the Netherlands and Britain still supported the suspension of membership talks.

Del Ponte will meet Javier Solana,the EU's foreign policy chief, in Brussels on Wednesday.

The chief prosecutor has repeatedly said that she believes Serbian authorities know Mladic's whereabouts and could arrest him at any time.

"Mladic is within reach. I believe the intelligence services know where he is," she said. "If Prime Minister Kostunica would give the order to arrest him now I could have him this evening in The Hague."

The UN Security Council has instructed the tribunal to finish its trials by 2008 and conclude the appeals process within another two years, before closing down.

If the court no longer exists its arrest warrants against Karadzic and Mladic will become invalid, Del Ponte said on Tuesday.

She expressed deep disappointment about the death of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president, just months before his war crimes trial had been due to conclude but said the tribunal had achieved a lot.
   
"If you look at what we have done, it is an historical achievement," Del Ponte said.
Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
Part of the joint accord aimed at ending the political impasse establishes an independent National Election Commission.
Rights groups say the US prosecution of terrorism cases targets Muslims and are fraught with abuses.
Local painters forgo experimentation to cater to growing number of foreign buyers.
Cyprus is a tax haven and has long attracted wealthy Russians, but it could become a European energy hub.
join our mailing list