News 04 Jun 07

UN War Crimes Prosecutor Visits Serbia to Meet Top Officials

Belgrade _ Carla Del Ponte, the chief UN war crimes prosecutor began on Monday a visit to Serbia, her first since the formation of the country’s new government last month.

The Cabinet led by Vojislav Kostunica invited Del Ponte’s for a four-day visit with an aim to evaluate moves behind government’s pledges it will cooperate with the Netherlands-based UN war crimes court for former Yugoslavia.

The visit comes after the Thursday’s arrest and extradition of former a war crimes suspect, former Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir on the border between Bosnia and Serbia.

Del Ponte was to meet Kostunica and Rasim Ljajic who is charge of cooperation with the UN court. She will also hold talks Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and Serbia’s President Boris Tadic

The prosecutor will also meet top law enforcement, security and judiciary officials. She will then file a progress report to the European Union by June 18.

Following Tolimir’s arrest, Ollie Rehn, the EU Enlargement Commissioner said the bloc would resume pre-membership talks with Serbia, suspended last year over its government inability to apprehend the top-wanted war crimes fugitive Gen. Ratko Mladic.

Ahead of Del Ponte’s visit, her spokeswoman Olga Kavran told reporters that the prosecutor welcomed "the declared readiness of the newly-elected government to do everything in its power to fulfill its international obligations so that Serbia can move forward."

Kavran also quoted Del Ponte as saying she expects that her visit will demonstrate that Serbian government’s commitment is backed by concrete action and results.

"The prosecutor is ready to work with the new government on their efforts to achieve full cooperation … which includes the arrest and transfer to the tribunal of Mladic, Radovan Karadzic and the remaining fugitives," Kavran added.

Tolimir, Mladic and their wartime leader Karadzic are all charged with genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. Along with Mladic and Karadzic, three more fugitives, Goran Hadzic, Ztojan Zupljanin and Vlastimir Djordjevic Rodja remain at large.

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