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Tribunal Prosecutors Welcome New Croatian President

The election of Stipe Mesic, a former witness before the Tribunal, as Croatian president is hailed as an encouraging signal for improved cooperation with the court.

Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt , has described as encouraging the election of the new Croatian President, Stipe Mesic.

Mesic testified as a prosecution witness in May 1998 during the trial of Blaskic and Dokmanovic. At that time Blewitt said, "he indicated he was prepared to do everything he could to assist our work, because he believed it was essential in bringing long-term peace to the region."

Blewitt, who was speaking at a news conference in the Hague, said the OTP was allowing the new government in Croatia some time to settle in and familiarise itself with issues involving the Tribunal before making any high-level approach. Blewitt suggested Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte might visit Zagreb in April.

Meanwhile, Mesic said in an interview reported in the Spanish media that he was eager to return to The Hague as a prosecution witness against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and other senior officials from the FRY and Serbia.

At present, Milosevic is indicted on charges of crimes against humanity for his forces' activities in Kosovo - not something Mesic is in a position to testify about. According to Blewitt, however, this might change very soon. Speaking to IWPR, Blewitt confirmed last week that The Hague prosecution is "actively investigating the role of Milosevic and is considering a possibility to expand the indictment against him to include the crimes committed during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia."

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