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

FRY Case: Still No Visas For Kosovo Investigators

Tribunal Update 103 :Last Week in The Hague (23-28 November, 1998)
By IWPR ICTY

There are, however, signs of the opposite--the hardening of FRY's stance towards the Tribunal. As pointed out last week by deputy Chief Prosecutor, Graham Blewitt, FRY had not only refused to issue visas to the Kosovo investigation team, but had already started refusing visas to investigators working on other cases, related to the war crimes committed against Serb victims.

Even this is nothing new: during the first two years of Tribunal's work, FRY refused to cooperate in the investigation of crimes whose victims were Serbs in Croatia or Bosnia, which made the investigations significantly more difficult and slower.

The Prosecution was in one example, forced to take witness statements of Serb victims of Celebici - who appeared as witnesses in a recently concluded trial - in neighbouring countries where they were transported with the assistance of local NGOs.

FRY subsequently somewhat softened its stance and started cooperating in investigations of crimes against Croatian and Bosnian Serbs. Those investigations, Blewitt pointed out, "were progressing towards finalisation". Even this degree of cooperation has now been withdrawn, which Blewitt finds "somewhat puzzling."

It remains to be seen whether the Security Council will also be "puzzled" with the latest hardening of stance towards the Tribunal, by means of which the current Belgrade regime espouses contempt not only towards its own victims, but also towards "legally binding" and "enforceable" laws of the international community.