War crimes prosecutor calls for arrest and trial of fugitives after Milosevic death

[JURIST] ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte marked the sudden death of Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST report] Saturday by reiterating her call [JURIST report] for the remaining fugitives from the Hague war crimes tribunal to be brought to justice and tried. She said in a statement:

The death of Slobodan Milosevic, a few weeks before the completion of his trial, will prevent justice to be done in his case. However, the crimes for which he was accused, including genocide, cannot be left unpunished. There are other senior leaders accused of these crimes, six of them who are still at large. The international community and the Tribunal are responsible to the victims to ensure that all of these accused are brought to justice and tried in The Hague, especially Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.
Milosevic was found dead in his cell early Saturday. A few hours afterwards Zdenko Tomanovic, a Belgrade-based lawyer for Milosevic, told reporters that Milosevic had told him that he feared he was being poisoned [Reuters report] in detention, and had asked Tomanovic to apply for protection on his behalf to the Russian embassy in The Netherlands and to the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow. A spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia meanwhile denied suggestions [AFP report] that the Tribunal was in any way responsible for Milosevic's demise. Spokesman Christian Chartier told AFP, "The tribunal has nothing to be blamed for...The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia take[s] the utmost care of its indictees and of [Milosevic] in particular...We cannot be blamed for negligence."

Reaction to Milosevic's death and the consequent end of his lengthy trial has poured in from around the world. Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic [official profile], noting that Milosevic had personally ordered murders of his party members and attempts on his own life, said he was simply "sorry that he was being tried in The Hague, not in Belgrade, for what he had done to our nation". The head of the Socialist Party of Serbia, Milosevic's own political party, said however that Milosevic had been "murdered" at The Hague: "The decision of the Tribunal to disallow Milosevic's medical treatment at the Bakunin Institute in Moscow represents a prescribed death sentence against Milosevic."

Political leaders in neighboring Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose populations were decimated in Milosevic's Balkan Wars, regretted that Milosevic had died before justice could be done. The office of Croatian President Stjepan Mesic said "It's a pity that Milosevic did not live through the trial and get his deserved sentence."

EU representatives meanwhile urged Serbs to look to the future after Milosevic's passing. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana [official website], who headed NATO during the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in the late 1990s after the expulsion of ethic Albanians from Kosovo, issued a statement [PDF] attempting to strike a conciliatory and optimistic tone:
The death of any individual is a sad event. I think particularly of his family. Personally I have had a long, difficult relationship with Slobodan Milosevic from many encounters in dramatic circumstances.

But we cannot ignore the fact that many men and women suffered from the consequences of his policies. My thoughts also go to them.

My message today to the Serbian people is to come to terms with the legacy of Milosevic. This will help them in moving forward towards the family of European nations to which they belong.
From Belgrade, B92 has more.

 

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