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UN tribunal tipped as favourite for Peace Prize

Del Ponte is responsible for bringing Slobodan Milosevic to trial for war crimes

(Keystone)

The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia is tipped as a favourite for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The accolade would be a triumph for the UN's chief prosecutor, Switzerland's Carla Del Ponte, who was instrumental in bringing Slobodan Milosevic to trial.

The Tribunal said rumours that it might be chosen had been circulating for years.

But it is seen as having a particularly strong chance this year, following del Ponte's success in bringing the former Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, to trial.

Del Ponte has been the Tribunal's chief prosecutor since 1999 and over the years, the diminutive prosecutor has built up a reputation as a fearsome and stubborn crime fighter.

In the course of her career, she has made many enemies in her pursuit of the Italian and Russian mafia and survived an assassination attempt.

Mafia enemies

In the late 1980s, her investigation along with investigating judge, Giovanni Falcone, into the connection between the Italian drug trade and Swiss money launderers brought her into conflict with the Sicilian mafia.

An attempt by the Cosa Nostra in 1989 to assassinate her failed after the discovery of half a ton of explosives hidden in a house in Palermo. Falcone was not so lucky, he was the victim of a car bomb just three years later.

His death only served to spur on Del Ponte, who led a crusade in Switzerland against organised crime, making many enemies in the process.

Mixed success

Her stint as Swiss federal prosecutor met with mixed success. Her investigations into organised crime networks between Switzerland and Russia, Algerian militants, a former Swiss army colonel and journalists, all ended in acquittals.

But her reputation grew after the seizure of $118 million from the accounts of Raul Salinas, the brother of Mexican President Carlos Salinas, and the freezing of accounts belonging to the former Pakistani president, Benazir Bhutto.

It was this tenacity that lead to her appointment at the UN, where she also works on war crimes in Rwanda.

The trial of Milosevic is largely seen as the result of Del Ponte's dogged determination to bring him to trial.

In her opening address, Del Ponte, only third chief prosecutor in the history of the tribunal, accused Milosevic of being "responsible for the worst crimes known to mankind".

Other names tipped as prospective Peace Prize winners are the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and former US president, Jimmy Carter, for his work on human rights.

swissinfo


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