Del Ponte rejects return as federal prosecutor

Del Ponte feels she would be a good diplomat Keystone

The United Nations war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, says she has turned down a return to her former job as Swiss federal prosecutor.

This content was published on July 29, 2007 - 13:38

In an interview with the SonntagsBlick newspaper, Del Ponte said Swiss Justice Minister Christoph Blocher had made the offer in March 2006 after the death in prison of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Del Ponte is due to step down from her job in The Hague at the end of this year.

"You are an expert in the area of organised crime. Be federal prosecutor again," Blocher reportedly told her.

But Del Ponte refused his offer. "You don't go backwards, only forwards," she told the newspaper.

The Swiss justice ministry said it did not wish to comment on the matter.

The reported job offer came at a time when Del Ponte's successor as federal prosecutor, Valentin Roschacher, was under fire.

He had been at loggerheads with Blocher over a number of issues and stepped down in July 2006.


Del Ponte was also asked about the costs for her round-the-clock security, which are paid by Switzerland.

"When Christoph Blocher became a member of the cabinet, he no longer wanted to pay for my security.

"I visited him and spoke to him for more than an hour. He is an intelligent man and understood that my work was important."

Del Ponte said she knew the whereabouts of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic, both wanted by the court on war crime charges.

"But their arrest depends on their supporters and assistance from Nato... Karadzic and Mladic are still on the run and that makes me cross. I owe it to the victims to catch these people. It is a quest for justice."

"Giant organisation"

She said that her successor had to be chief prosecutor and manager at the same time because there were several hundred employees in what she called a "giant organisation"

"He also has to have diplomatic flair. He must be able to persuade countries to help in the investigations."

There has been speculation that Del Ponte has been offered a post as Swiss ambassador to Argentina, but she would not be drawn on the issue.

"But in principle I would be happy if the government were to offer me a post as ambassador. I am only 60 and so I could still do something else," she commented.

Asked whether she would make a good diplomat, Del Ponte's answer was clear.

"Oh, yes. I have learned a lot about diplomacy in the past eight years. And what would be nice is that I could finally share responsibility. At present I am the one who carries the can for every mistake."

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was established by Resolution 827 of the United Nations Security Council in May 1993.
Based in The Hague, it is the first international body for the prosecution of war crimes since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials held after the Second World War.
The tribunal has jurisdiction over individuals responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the territory of former Yugoslavia after January 1, 1991.

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Carla Del Ponte

Del Ponte, who was born in 1947, became prosecutor of canton Ticino in 1981.

She made a name for herself in the fight against money laundering, organised crime and the smuggling of arms.

Del Ponte was Swiss federal prosecutor from 1994 to 1999, before her appointment by the UN as chief prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

She had originally wanted to step down in September but is now expected to leave her post at the end of the year.

Del Ponte is divorced and has a 30-year-old son.

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