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ICTY Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte provides assesment of Serbia's
cooperation to the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council
At the request of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, the Tribunal's Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, addressed today the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the EU and provided her assessment on the current state of Serbia’s cooperation with the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY.
In her assessment, the Prosecutor focused the two main aspects of this cooperation – access to documents and archives and the search for the remaining four fugitives - Ratko Mladić, Radovan Karadžić, Goran Hadžić and Stojan Župljanin.
The Prosecutor stated that, although there has been some progress in the level of assistance provided by Serbian authorities in terms of documents and access to archives, it does not appear to match their declared political commitment. A number of very important documents, some of which were requested nearly a year ago have not yet been provided to the Office of the Prosecutor. In addition, full access to crucial archives, particularly those of the Ministry of Defence and the Security and Intelligence Service (BIA), has thus far been denied, despite pledges made to the contrary by Serbian authorities at various levels.
Turning to the issue of the four remaining fugitives, the Prosecutor welcomed the recent decision taken by the National Security Council of Serbia to reward those providing information leading to the arrest of ICTY fugitives with significant sums of money. She found this initiative to be an encouraging sign of the Serbian authorities’ commitment. Nonetheless, looking back on the past three months, the Prosecutor stated that although there had been some activity in the efforts to locate fugitives and identify networks protecting them, she found that these actions were slow, irresolute and unsystematic.
The Prosecutor called on Serbia to immediately implement other measures it has committed to which would assist the search for fugitives – to expand the role of the War Crimes Prosecutor to include jurisdiction over those who aid and abet war crimes fugitives and to pass legislation that would allow for the freezing of assets of those supporting fugitives. She also demanded that the Serbian authorities increase the intensity of the search operations and improve coordination of their services in the coming weeks. The Prosecutor stated that she will visit Belgrade on 25 and 26 October and again before briefing the Security Council in December to assess the progress of cooperation and that she is prepared to brief the Council and EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, and provide an assessment after these visits.
Prosecutor Del Ponte also thanked the European Union for its strong, principled and consistent support and stated that the EU’s policy of conditionality has thus far proven to be the sole successful tool in the recent past in stimulating States to fully cooperate with the Tribunal and obtain the arrest of fugitives.
In conclusion, the Prosecutor said the following: “I confirm that the situation today is better than it was a year ago. However, cooperation is still too slow and not yet sufficient. The fact that Ratko Mladić is still at large after all the promises and declarations that have been made over the years clearly demonstrates that fact. I am absolutely convinced that Serbia’s Government possesses the resources and the means to locate and arrest the fugitives. Translating this ability into tangible results remains the principal obstacle. Therefore, I cannot give a positive assessment of full cooperation until Ratko Mladić is arrested and transferred to The Hague.”
The full text of the Prosecutor’s address can be found at the following link:
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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