Trials of Balkans atrocities could go beyond 2008 deadline Security Council told

If two suspects whose cases the 15-member Council has identified as being of the highest priority, former Bosnian leader Radovan Karadzic and former Bosnian general Ratko Mladic, were brought into custody early and tried together, those long cases might be completed within the 2008 deadline, Tribunal President Judge Theodor Meron said in an open briefing on the court’s annual report. He had presented the same report earlier Thursday to the General Assembly.Mr. Karadzic and General Mladic are among the 17 senior officials accused of atrocities who are still at large.”If there is an unexpected surge in guilty pleas, it may even be possible to complete the trials of some other indicted fugitives within the 2008 goal, but it will not be possible to complete all of them by that time,” he said. “Trying the cases of all the fugitives without additional guilty pleas would probably require trials at least through 2009.”Judge Meron said he had learned from Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte that she would submit additional indictments covering another 30 individuals. While four or five of the indictments could be joined to existing ones, the rest would require separate trials.In her briefing, Ms. Del Ponte said the remaining investigations should be completed by 2004 and, thus, she had submitted significant budget cuts for the Investigation Division for 2005. She could not give details of the new cases because that would compromise ongoing investigations.”I constantly review these investigations and, as things stand today, it is possible that not all of them will result in new indictments. All these cases involve the remaining individuals who hold the highest possible levels of responsibility for very serious crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and involving most of the parties to the conflicts spanning from 1991 until 2001,” she said. “At this stage, there is hardly any prospect that these cases could be assumed locally.”In any case, it was more likely trials would be held by local jurisdictions if the Tribunal had issued the indictments than if they had not, she said.Full cooperation from the States of the former Yugoslavia was of crucial importance to speeding up the trial process and was their international legal obligation, she stressed. Repeating a previous complaint, she told the Council, “I regret to have to report to you that Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Republika Srpska and the Bosnian Croat party to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina have not achieved, so far, full cooperation with the Tribunal.” Listen to UN Radio report