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

Call for Court to be Given More Time

Brammertz wants last four fugitives to be tried by the Hague court.
Chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz suggested this week that the Hague tribunal should not close before trying all remaining war crimes suspects.

"We will do our best to bring the fugitives before justice, because that is the responsibility and obligation of the international community," the chief prosecutor told reporters in Sarajevo, as he continued his first official visit to the former Yugoslavia since taking office in January.

The Hague court is due to close its doors in two years’ time, and has been devolving cases to Balkan judiciaries as part of a completion strategy.

The tribunal believes that the former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic is hiding out in Belgrade, while the whereabouts of his political leader Radovan Karadzic remains unknown. The pair are charged with committing genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995 which resulted in the death of more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys.

According to former chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, the tribunal has a photograph of Mladic taken at a wedding party in a Belgrade restaurant in 2002.

Bosnian Serbs Stojan Zupljanin and Goran Hadzic, suspected of war crimes in Croatia, are also on the run.

"Karadzic, Mladic, Hadzic and Zupljanin must face justice and the tribunal must have a possibility to successfully complete its mandate. That is the only way towards the long-lasting stability in the region," Brammertz said in an interview with the Sarajevo daily Dnevni avaz this week.

During Brammertz’s visit, member of the Bosnian presidency Haris Silajdzic urged him to up the ante and press Belgrade to arrest its fugitives.

According to a statement from Silajdzic’s office, he asked the prosecutor what could be done “to force Serbia to start observing international law” because visits to Belgrade by international officials "obviously do not produce results".

Silajdzic reminded the prosecutor that apart from not complying with the United Nations Security Council resolutions over the past 12 years, Serbia had also ignored last year’s ruling of the International Court of Justice that it should “immediately” hand over the fugitives.

Brammertz was scheduled to visit Belgrade but cancelled the trip due to the unrest sparked by Kosovo’s declaration of independence last month.

Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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