'Nato Case'

Tribunal Update No. 178 Last Week in The Hague (May 29 - June 3, 2000)

'Nato Case'

Tribunal Update No. 178 Last Week in The Hague (May 29 - June 3, 2000)

Saturday, 3 June, 2000

Following hot on the heals of Russia's failure to arrest Tribunal indictee Yugoslav Defence Minister, Dragoljub Ojdanic, during an official visit to Moscow in May, this latest controversy put pressure on US President Bill Clinton to raise the issue of Russian support for the Tribunal during the Moscow summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The Chairman of the the US Senate's Foreign Policy Committee, Jessy Helms, has called on the US government to re-examine financial credits to Russia in the light of Moscow's continued economic support for the Yugoslav government and the country's flagrant abuse of its "obligations towards the Tribunal" in its failure to arrest Ojdanic.

Speaking to the UN Security Council on Friday, June 2, del Ponte had announced that, "although some mistakes were made by NATO, I am very satisfied there was no deliberate targeting of civilians or unlawful military targets by NATO during the bombing campaign."

Gennady Gatilov, Russia's deputy representative to the UN, criticised del Ponte's decision as "premature".

"Each fact must be carefully investigated and details given to the Security Council," Gatilov said. The Russian representative went on to criticize the Tribunal generally for an anti-Serb bias, pointing out that 43 out of 50 indictments issued so far concern alleged Serb war crimes.

Del Ponte responded that she was "rather stupefied" by the accusations. "I completely reject that accusation," she said. For months del Ponte went on, the Tribunal had sought better communication with the Russian authorities but that all such efforts had been ignored.

On Saturday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement accusing the Tribunal of demonstrating "political prejudice".

"Such an approach does not contribute to a political settlement in the region, to the triumph of justice and the punishment of all those guilty," the statement said.

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