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

Briefly Noted ...

Compiled by Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 332, 7 November 2003)
By IWPR

International donors have pledged 15.7 million euro towards the costs of a specialised war crimes court to be set up in Bosnia.


The pledges came at a conference held at the Hague tribunal last week. “This will provide Bosnia and Hercegovina with the institution necessary to try individual accused of committing war crimes,” said war crimes ambassador Bernard Fassier from the Office of the High Representative, which organised the event.


Bosnia’s war crimes court will eventually take over some of the war crimes workload when the Hague tribunal closes in 2010, and its establishment was supported by a UN Security Council resolution passed in August.


DEL PONTE ROW OVER SENTENCING DENIED


Hague prosecution spokeswoman Florence Hartmann has denied a media report in Sarajevo that chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte had a row with president of the Women of Srebrenica association, Hajra Catic, over sentencing policy.


A story in the newspaper Avaz alleged that Del Ponte reacted angrily when Catic complained to Del Ponte about plea agreements that have seen defendants given light sentences in return for pleading guilty.


Hartmann said the news report “doesn’t reflect what happened. It was an intelligent discussion”.


IZETBEGOVIC INVESTIGATION ANNOUNCEMENT WAS “QUESTION OF TRANSPARENCY”


Hague prosecutors have defended their decision to announce that former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic had been under investigation for war crimes, a matter of days after his death.


Spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said the decision by Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte had been correct. “It is a question of transparency,” she told a press conference at The Hague. “Some war crimes were committed by some elements of the Bosnia and Herzegovina army. It was under our mandate to investigate the chain of command.” She would not give further details of why Izetbegovic was being investigated.


Prosecutors have been criticised over the naming decision, which many Bosnians say tarnishes his reputation because there is no way of refuting the claims. Some war crimes lawyers say it is improper to give details of a person who is dead and has not been charged.


Chris Stephen is IWPR’s tribunal project manager.