Annan recommends Swiss prosecutor to head U.N. war crimes tribunal

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended Swiss Federal Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte as the new chief prosecutor at the international war crimes tribunal.

This content was published on August 6, 1999 - 17:41

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended Swiss Federal Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte as the new chief prosecutor at the international war crimes tribunal.

Annan, talking to journalists in New York, confirmed Friday that he had recommended Del Ponte in a letter to the U.N. Security Council after holding talks with the Swiss prosecutor the previous day.

“I have been looking for a strong and fearless person. I think Del Ponte is a very capable prosecutor whose professionalism can bee seen from her work in her home country," Annan said.

Political observers estimate that Del Ponte stands a good chance of being nominated to the U.N. body in the Hague, where she would succeed Louise Arbour, who has in turn been appointed to the Canadian Supreme Court.

Del Ponte – who would take up the job on September 15 -- has a reputation as a fearless crusader against organized crime and drug trafficking.

While she has at times been criticised in Switzerland for pushing too hard in her anti-crime efforts, she made international headlines by her money-laundering investigation against the brother of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

Del Ponte, 52, has been Switzerland’s top legal official since 1994. She would be the first experienced prosecutor to take the job at the war crimes tribunal as Arbour and her predecessor Richard Goldstone from South Africa were both judges.

Even though Switzerland is not a member of the U.N., prominent Swiss politicians and officials have repeatedly been mandated to head U.N. missions – for instance in Western Sahara, the Middle East, Georgia, and the former Yugoslavia.

In the case of Del Ponte, analysts point out that Switzerland’s neutrality may be seen as a positive factor in the prosecution of indicted Yugoslav war crimes suspects such as President Slobodan Milosevic.

The war crimes tribunal prosecutes war crimes cases from the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The tribunal in charge of the Yugoslav cases is based in the Hague, while that for Rwanda has its seat in the Tanzanian capital Arusha.


From staff and wire reports.

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