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article imageProsecutor Demands Immediate Surrender Of Bosnian Serb Fugitives

By Digital Journal Staff     Jul 7, 2001 in Technology
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Encouraged by the handover of Slobodan Milosevic, the U.N. prosecutor demanded Thursday an end to "hollow promises" by the Bosnian Serb leadership to help catch war crimes suspects on the run for six years.
And in a decision that could reverberate in future trials, tribunal judges made it easier Thursday to convict war crimes suspects of genocide, saying their actions did not necessarily have to be part of a master plan or campaign to eliminate an entire community.
In a tough statement after meeting the prime minister of the Bosnian Serbs, chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte called for the immediate surrender of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his top military officer, Ratko Mladic.
The two fugitives, who have been evading justice since the end of the Bosnian war in 1995, are accused of genocide against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II.
"Karadzic and Mladic have been at large for the past six years," Ms. Del Ponte said. "This unacceptable situation must come to an end now. I will not be satisfied by hollow promises."
"It is a well-known fact that Ratko Mladic has been enjoying protection from members of the VRS," she said, referring to soldiers of the Bosnian Serb army.
"I demand that firm action be taken by the authorities of the Republika Srpska," Ms. Del Ponte said, referring to the Serb half of Bosnia. She stressed that "at any given time, the authorities of Republika Srpska know, or are in a position to know, the whereabouts of our most wanted fugitives."
Mladen Ivanic, prime minister of Republika Srpska, said he was optimistic the republic's parliament would adopt a law of cooperation with the court within three weeks.
"Republika Srpska can't ignore the existence of the tribunal," he said after four hours of talks at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
The bill drafted by Mr. Ivanic's government two days ago is similar to the one adopted last week by the Serb government in neighboring Yugoslavia that cleared the way for Mr. Milosevic to be transferred to The Hague, where he was arraigned Tuesday.
Mr. Ivanic has admitted that Mr. Milosevic's extradition by the government of Serbia increased pressure on his own government to cooperate with the tribunal.
So far, Republika Srpska has arrested none of the 20 suspects indicted by the U.N. court who are believed to be in its territory.
Mr. Karadzic and Mr. Mladic were twice indicted for genocide, once for the bombing of Sarajevo and other actions since 1992, and again for the siege of the U.N-declared safe zone of Srebrenica in July 1995.
Mr. Milosevic, who was ousted last October as president of Yugoslavia, is charged with war crimes – but not genocide – for his crackdown on Kosovo.
Meanwhile, an appellate bench of the war crimes tribunal clarified that an individual may be convicted of genocide, even if there is no plan to wipe out an entire racial, ethnic or religious community.
"The existence of a plan or policy is not a legal ingredient of the crime of genocide, although it may be evidentially of assistance," the court said.
The ruling by the five-judge panel came in response to the prosecutor's appeal of the acquittal on a genocide charge against Goran Jelisic, who was an officer in an infamous detention camp in the northern Bosnian town of Brcko.
Mr. Jelisic, who called himself the "Serb Adolf" after Adolf Hitler, pleaded guilty to 31 counts of crimes against humanity – including 12 murders – and violations of the rules or customs of war in Brcko in the summer of 1992.
The court refused to overturn the acquittal of genocide – but only for the practical reason of lack of resources and manpower to try the case over again.
By a vote of 3-2, the court said it found "it is not appropriate to order that the case be remitted and declines to reverse the acquittal."
It also rejected the defendant's appeal to reduce his 40-year sentence.
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