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Del Ponte wants tracking teams to hunt Balkan war criminals

Carla Del Ponte is confident the Yugoslav government will extradite Slobodan Milosevic Keystone Archive

The Swiss chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal, Carla Del Ponte, wants to deploy teams of detectives to hunt down suspected war criminals in the Balkans. In a newspaper interview, she also called for more money to be made available to the tribunal.

In an interview with Monday’s Swiss French newspaper “Le Temps” Del Ponte said she wanted “tracking teams”, similar to those deployed in Rwanda, to be sent to the Balkans to investigate the whereabouts of suspected war criminals.

She said this information could then be passed to the authorities of the country concerned, facilitating the process by which war crimes are located and extradited to the tribunal in The Hague.

Del Ponte also said she was not happy with the way the Yugoslav authorities were handling the tribunal’s request for the extradition of the former president, Slobodan Milosevic, to stand trial for war crimes in The Hague.

She told the French newspaper “Le Monde” that unless suspected war criminals like Milosevic were handed over quickly, the tribunal risked losing credibility.

“If, in several years, the leaders have not been judged… I wonder what the legitimacy of this tribunal will be. That’s why we are asking for the immediate transfer of Milosevic, just like every other suspect.”

Del Ponte added that the tribunal was ready to prosecute Milosevic for “crimes committed in Kosovo”, and that an investigation into his alleged involvement in crimes committed in Bosnia and Croatia would be finished soon.

Yugoslav officials are investigating Milosevic for alleged abuse of power and corruption during his 13 years in power. On Monday, a Belgrade court extended his detention for a further two months, pending an investigation.

The new democratically elected government which replaced Milosevic’s regime has been unclear about whether it will extradite him, insisting that he must be tried at home first.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR