Del Ponte urges war crimes arrests
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Chief war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte is calling on the United States to arrest the two main war crimes suspects still at large in the former Yugoslavia.
Speaking in an interview with CNN ahead of her visit to the U.S. early next month, Del Ponte complained that politics was standing in the way of justice.
She said she would explain to U.S. officials, including Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, that no arrest is risk-free, but that now is the time to bring in the fugitive Bosnian Serb war-time leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia accuses both men of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Del Ponte said she was pleased that the Yugoslav authorities had arrested former President Slobodan Milosevic, but added that the tribunal is still demanding and waiting for him to be sent to the Hague to stand trial on war crimes charges stemming from the war in Kosovo.
She said she had an understanding, not a firm agreement, with the new Yugoslav government of Vojislav Kostunica, that Milosevic would eventually be transferred to the Hague. However, she said she did not know when that would be.
Del Ponte told CNN that she is about to widen the indictments against Milosevic to include his role in the Croatian and Bosnian wars between 1991-1995.
The first of the two new indictments could be ready as early as next month, Del Ponte said.
Milosevic will be charged with the most serious crime under international law: Genocide.
Del Ponte also says she is confident that she has enough evidence to convict the ousted former Yugoslav leader. She says she has received incriminating documents and statements from witnesses, including people who were around Milosevic during those war years.
The chief prosecutor told CNN that she had been about to indict the Croatian President Franjo Tudjman just before he died late in 1999.
The prepared charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes were related to actions allegedly taken during the Croatian offensives called Operation Storm and Operation Flash in 1995 - operations which killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of Serbs.
Del Ponte strongly rejected accusations that the tribunal was a political tool designed to be anti-Serb.
She said judgment should be withheld until the tribunal's work is finished by 2004.
She said the greatest legacy of the tribunal will be to show that there is no longer impunity for any leaders who commit crimes against their people.
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