Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Brammertz Slams Serbian Tribunal Cooperation

Chief prosecutor said there has been no notable progress in delivering remaining suspects to Hague.
By Simon Jennings
Hague tribunal chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz criticised Serbian cooperation with the court in a report to the United Nations Security Council this week.

In his first address to the UNSC since taking over from Carla Del Ponte at the beginning of the year, Brammertz said that his office was struggling to obtain important documents from Belgrade, and mentioned “significant obstacles” that prevented them gaining access to vital archives.

He also said that in the last six months, with the exception of Stojan Zupljanin, there had been no notable progress in bringing about the arrests of fugitives wanted on war crimes charges.

Brammertz said that all four Serbian fugitives – Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic, Stojan Zupljanin and Goran Hadzic – are “within reach of the authorities in Serbia and that the Serbian authorities can do more to locate and arrest them”.

Zuplijanin is a former commander of the Bosnian Serb police and is wanted on charges relating to crimes committed during the war against Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in the autonomous region of Krajina.

Tribunal president Fausto Pocar also addressed the Security Council, dealing with the question of when the tribunal will finish its work.

Under its UN mandate, the tribunal is scheduled to complete all trials including appeals hearings in 2010. According to Pocar, all but two trials will be underway by the end of this year and only three will extend beyond 2009.

Brammertz, meanwhile, told the UNSC that his office was trying to complete trials within the mandate period. He said that prosecutors were taking steps to reduce the time needed to present cases.

“We are firmly engaged in finding ways to expedite proceedings without diminishing the prosecution’s case,” he said.

However, he said the tribunal should not be wound up before all the fugitives have been tried.

“I cannot think of a situation in which the tribunal, having been established to try those most responsible for atrocious crimes, will close its doors without bringing to justice all remaining fugitives,” said Brammertz.

Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

More IWPR's Global Voices