News 06 Dec 12

Russia, Serbia Criticise the ICTY before the UN

At a meeting of the UN Security Council, Russia and Serbia slammed the recent Hague Tribunal acquittals while the ICTY Chief Prosecutor praised the cooperation with the countries in the region.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Speaking on Wednesday at the bi annual meeting of the UN Security Council on work of the UN war crime tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda,  Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, criticised the recent “shameful” ICTY verdicts.

“Our faith in international justice has suffered the severest blow possible,” Vucic said.

In November, the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, acquitted two Croatian Generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, and the former Kosovo PM Ramush Haradinaj and two other Kosovo Liberation Army commanders, all charged with war crimes committed during the 1990s conflicts. 

“Do Serbs also have right to justice and who will be held responsible for the 1995 ethnic cleansing committed by the Croatian forces, the largest one after WW2? If Gotovina and Markac are not guilty who is? The ICTY failed to gives us answers,” he added.

Vucic also pointed out the weakness of the ICTY witness protection system while talking about Haradinaj’s release.

Vitalij Curkin, Russia’s UN ambassador, has joined the criticism of the ICTY, and expressed his  “deep concerns” over its work saying that the recent cases provide “neither fairness nor effectiveness”.

“As a result of the recent acquittals we ask the question who is guilty…Killings and torture happened, but there are no perpetrators,” Curkin said.

On the other hand, countries like UK, Germany, Portugal, Guatemala and France gave their full support to the work of the UN war crime tribunal.

Germany’s UN ambassador, Peter Wittig, has criticised Serbia for downgrading its cooperation with the ICTY to a technical level.

 “Authorities in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia must intensify their efforts to continue the ICTY’s work and to prosecute war crimes,” Wittig said.

His UK counterpart, Mark Lyall Grant, stressed that following the acquittals of the Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Malden Markac, Croatia’s domestic courts need to prosecute those responsible for war crimes.

Ranko Vilovic, Croatia’s UN envoy, responded that his country is already prosecuting war crimes perpetrators and that it would continue to do the same in the future.

Serge Brammertz, the Chief Prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, has praised the cooperation between the ICTY and the countries in the region in his bi-annual report which he presented to the Security Council on Wednesday.

“Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to respond to the ICTY requests in a timely manner,” Brammertz said.

Speaking about still unresolved issues in the countries, the ICTY Chief Prosecutor said that “Serbia had intensified its efforts to discover network of people who helped the former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic.”

Brammertz noted that in Bosnia a large number of war crime cases still remains unresolved and that it is unlikely that the country will meet the deadlines set out in the transitional justice strategy.

 “The other concern is a low capacity of the courts on all levels,” he added.

He expressed his hope that protocols on cooperation in war crime cases between the Serbian and Bosnian prosecutions will be signed in the near future.

The president of the ICTY, Judge Theodor Meron, said that the trial of the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic, is expected to end in July 2016.

The verdicts in the cases of the Croatian Serb leader, Goran Hadzic, and the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, are expected in the summer of 2015 and 2014, respectively.

 

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