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Milosevic Case: 100,000 signatures for an indictment

Tribunal Update 111: Last Week in The Hague (1-6 February 1999)

The boxes contained lists with over 100,000 signatures of prominent figures and citizens around the world who all support the indictment of Yugoslav President Milosevic for genocide and crimes against humanity. The collection of signatures was initiated last August by the Transnational Radical Party, whose delegation, led by its Secretary General, Olivier Dupuis, MEP, visited the Tribunal on Monday, February 1 and submitted the signatures.

"In receiving this petition today", Blewitt stressed during the petition's delivery,"it should not be understood that this represents a departure from the Prosecutor's normal policy about commenting on the nature or extent or even the existence of any particular investigation which may or may not exist within the Prosecutor's Office. Having said that, indictments will only be issued by the Prosecutor when there is sufficient admissible evidence available to the Prosecutor to establish the guilt of the accused. Media reports, petitions and speculation do not amount to such evidence."

Having clarified his view as to the "practical value" of the petition, Blewitt went on to tell Dupis: "You can assist the Tribunal more by being very active in urging those States which hold relevant evidence to cooperate fully with the Prosecutor's Office in the investigation of crimes falling within the Tribunal's jurisdiction." Without admissible evidence, Blewitt concluded, "it will not be possible to bring the appropriate indictments."

In response, Dupuis announced he intended to launch an initiative in the European Parliament to demand that all relevant governments provide the Tribunal with all the evidence they have relating to Milosevic and to all those suspected of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.

Dupuis expressed his hope that the Tribunal will prosecute those individuals at the very top "who make decisions and who planned this tragedy - in Bosnia yesterday, and in Kosovo today."

The Radicals plan to collect a further 100,000 signatures and submit them in a second petition to the Tribunal in a few months time.

Those people who have already added their names to the list calling for Milosevic's prosecution include the Albanian Prime Minister, Pandeli Majko; Michel Rocard, Wilfried Martens and Leo Tindemans, three former Prime Ministers from France and Belgium respectively; 120 cross-party deputies from the European Parliament and many representatives from national parliaments, including five from the Russian Duma.

The petition was also signed by Morton Abramovitz of the Council for Foreign Relations in Washington, and Nobel laureate John Polanyi from Canada.

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