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War in Syria Del Ponte settles old scores with UN

Carla Del Ponte, the Swiss former prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal, has strongly criticised the international community – and the UN in particular – of thwarting any efforts to bring war criminals to justice.

In her new book, Im Namen der Opfern (In the Name of the Victims), she describes her time as a member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. She says she was deeply frustrated and quit the UN panel last August.

“We never really investigated. We only listed the crimes that were committed,” she says. “The UN, notably the Security Council, failed to set up a special tribunal on Syria.”

The Swiss lawyer, who made a name for herself for taking on the mafia in Italy, also said she had never seen atrocities more heinous than in Syria.

She says crimes against humanity are committed by all sides in the Syrian conflict every day. But the brutality and intensity of these crimes – the torture in prisons and violence against women and children – even surpassed the genocide in Rwanda and the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

“The law court is the right place to defend the victims,” Del Ponte says. “But this was made impossible. I’m glad I’m no longer part of it all.”

Del Ponte was chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) from 1999 to 2007. She served in the same role for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) from 1999 to 2003. She also served as Swiss ambassador to Argentina.

Del Ponte is known for her outspokenness. She published several books about her experiences as an international war crimes prosecutor and received several awards.

swissinfo.ch with SRF/urs

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