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Montenegro to Co-operate with Tribunal

The Montenegrin prime minister dismisses intimidation from Belgrade and holds out an olive branch to the Tribunal.

"Montenegro will co-operate with the Tribunal regardless of Belgrade's official stand," Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic announced on Friday following a meeting with Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.

The meeting was held at the request of the Vujanovic, who arrived at The Hague direct from an official visit to Washington D.C.

Del Ponte has requested help from the Montenegrin authorities to get in touch with Serbian victims investigators wish to interview.

"I am certain that the Montenegrin authorities will do everything they can to enable us to contact or even to interview those witnesses in their country," Del Ponte said.

Del Ponte said that so far the OTP has had no way of contacting and interviewing victims and witnesses of crimes committed against the Serbs in Kosovo because they are mainly on the territory of Serbia where the Hague investigators have no access.

However, the OTP are conducting other investigations into crimes against Serbs, Del Ponte said, in which enhanced co-operation from Podgorica would, hopefully, be of help. The OTP is hoping to open a liaison office in Montenegro within the framework of that co-operation.

Vujanovic said, "Montenegro is determined to help the Tribunal to discover and punish all war criminals, for the benefit of the people, to remove the burden of collective responsibility by punishing the criminals within its ranks."

Vujanovic said Montenegro is ready to "extradite all those suspected of war crimes, whose arrest would not lead to an internal conflict in Montenegro and numerous victims." He added that, "I think it is clear why we have such a stand and that it is not in the interest of the international community to cause conflicts or loss of human lives over certain arrests."

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