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18 Jun, 2007 05:12

Carla Del Ponte to make last report

The Chief UN War Crimes Prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, is to present her last report on the trial of those accused of atrocities in Kosovo and Serbia, before she leaves office.

Branded the “New Gestapo” by the Serbian press, Del Ponte has kept constant pressure on Belgrade to hand over war crimes suspects.

This led to the recent arrests of Zdravko Tolimir and Vlastimir Djorjevic.

EU threats to stop integration talks with Serbia unless it hands over fugitives indicted for war crimes against ethnic Albanians seem to have brought results.

The second Serb fugitive, Vlastimir Djordjevic, has been handed over to the Hague tribunal in the past three weeks.

The arrest has sparked hopes that other fugitives on the run may stand trial as well.

“His arrest came as a result of cooperation between the office of the Prosecutor of the Tribunal and authorities in Montenegro and Serbia. He is a very senior police officer from Serbia and his arrest means that there are only four fugitives to go. And we hope that this arrest is an introduction into the arrest of the remaining four, without whom the tribunal will not be able to successfully complete its mandate,”  commented Refik Hodzic, the spokesman of the Hague Tribunal.

The arrest came in handy for the outgoing Hague Chief Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, whose ambition has been to bring all the war crimes suspects to justice.

To that end, she suggested the EU uses the lure of closer ties and the threat of isolation to push Serbia into handing over the fugitives.

On Monday, Del Ponte is presenting her last report on Serbia's cooperation with her court at the UN Security Council before stepping down in September.

The fugitives at large include Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić, who are accused of ethnic cleansing during the war in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

During the fighting, both sides violated human rights resorting to similar practices, but no high-ranking Bosnian Muslims were brought to justice.

Two other ethnic Serbs are suspected of war crimes during the conflicts in Kosovo and Serbia.

But the treatment of imprisoned suspects by the Hague Tribunal caused serious concerns after Slobodan Milošević died in a Hague prison shortly after a key witness in his trial was found hanged.

The unprecedented amount of time it took the court to come to a decision on the Milosevic case may be seen to cast a shadow on the court's overall impartiality.