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Stay firm over Serbia, Del Ponte tells EU

brussels bureau

Stay firm over Serbia, Del Ponte tells EU


Appealing to Europe not to go soft on Serbia over war crimes cooperation, the chief prosecutor for the U.N. tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has told the European Union it should not resume talks on closer ties with Belgrade until it hands over a key genocide suspect.

She insists that former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic is still benefiting from the protection of the Serbian army. Carla del Ponte said Belgrade had done nothing to arrest him and that reopening negotiations now would send the wrong signal. Her mandate ends in September.

She said: “I am still strong in my belief that it is possible to have in any case Mladic and shortly afterwards Karadjic and other fugitives in the Hague. I hope so – before the end of my mandate because as prosecutor of this tribunal… Of course, of course it would be a great success for me to be able to obtain the transfer of these fugitives to The Hague; If not, it will be a great, great professional deception.”

Del Ponte said since Belgrade announced an action plan last November, and then Serbia’s ultranationalist Radicals emerged the largest party after a general election, no cooperation with the court had materialised. Some EU member states, including Spain and Italy, are pressing for a resumption of association talks, hoping to boost pro-European forces in Belgrade. The prosecutor repeated that the Serbian intelligence service knows Mladic’s location, and if the prime minister ordered his arrest, he could be delivered to The Hague the same day.

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