UN clamps down on Yugoslavia war crimes

The UN Security Council has been asked to pressure Serbia and Montenegro into restarting effective cooperation with the UN War Crimes Tribunal on Former Yugoslavia.

A letter from court president Judge Theodor Meron has attacked “extremely serious” persistent failures to help the court, such as failing to execute arrest warrants. Judge Meron warned that the problems were threatening to push key trials beyond the tribunal’s target completion date of 2008.

Branding Belgrade’s current cooperation as practically “non-existent”. Judge Meron said the country was failing to comply with its international obligations.

The judge’s letter backed up an unpublished report from tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, also sent to the Security Council. It details failures to help attempts to secure documentary evidence and witness testimonies to investigators and the tribunal.

The problems, which have worsened considerably since the assassination of Serbia’s reformist prime minister Zoran Djindjic last year, were the subject of a recent meeting between Judge Meron and the Serbian Justice Minister Zoran Stojkovic.

Del Ponte has alleged that indicted former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic lives in Belgrade, and that General Ratko Mladic, who is wanted for murdering up to 8,000 men and boys in Srebrenica, Bosnia, is sheltering in Serbia, both free from prosecution.