Exsclusive Interview

In his first interview as the chief prosecutor of The Hague Tribunal, Serge Brammertz speaks of his priorities, and the problem of the remaining fugitives, primarily Karadzic and Mladic. Brammertz expects the EU policy of conditioning and putting pressure on the countries in the region to continue. He also speaks about what he expects to achieve in his forthcoming visits to Zagreb, Sarajevo and Belgrade

Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor of the TribunalSerge Brammertz, chief prosecutor of the Tribunal

After Richard Goldstone from South Africa, Louise Arbour from Canada and Carla Del Ponte from Switzerland, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia now has its fourth and most likely last chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz from Belgium.

Former federal prosecutor in Belgium and professor of law at the University of Liege arrived in The Hague for the first time in November 2003 to take up the post of deputy prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. He conducted ICC’s first investigations in Uganda and DR Congo. In January 2006, the UN secretary general Kofi Annan appointed Brammertz head of the international commission mandated to conduct an enquiry into the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Brammertz came to The Hague from that post, and on 1 January 2008 started his term of office as the chief prosecutor of the ICTY.

In his first interview as the ICTY chief prosecutor for Tribunal, a SENSE news agency TV program, Brammertz discusses his priorities in the four years of his term.

‘The first priority is continuity in the ongoing activities. As you know, there are still proceedings ongoing in relation to 50 accused at the pre-trial, trial and appeals level. The second priority, of course is to arrest the remaining fugitives. And we are asking the support of international community to have the remaining four fugitives arrested. It's indeed very difficult for me to imagine that this Tribunal could close its doors one day without having brought to justice those persons. The third priority is of course the interaction with the region, with the prosecutors. The closer we are coming to the final date or the closure of the Tribunal, the more it is important that our colleagues, prosecutors, war crimes prosecutors and local prosecutors, can do their job. And one of my priorities is of course to support my colleagues who are doing a difficult job in a political climate that is not easy.’

The arrest of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic was high on the priority lists of all Brammertz’s predecessors, but to no avail. Brammertz doesn’t intend to change the OTP approach to the fugitives’ problem, at least for the time being.

[IMAGE]3250[/IMAGE]‘I will off course do what my predecessors have done, which means that I will do everything in my power, everything I can to make sure that these persons are arrested but as you know it will largely depend on the cooperation of the countries in the region and the countries of the international community. So I will remind every day if necessary the international community that it has the obligation to support us in this project and that there can be no long-term stability in the region if those remaining fugitives are not brought to justice.’

The new chief prosecutor didn’t want to speculate what would happen if Karadzic, Mladic and other fugitives were not brought to justice before the ICTY mandate is over.

‘I think that we have to put all our energy in having those remaining persons arrested in the near future, so we can’t put too much energy today in this future mechanism in case they remain at large. Having said that, I think that the message must be very, very clear that there can never be a safe haven or impunity for the remaining fugitives. There must be mechanism in place that those arrest warrants, international arrest warrants will remain valid and that a mechanism, a body is created to make sure that whenever these persons are arrested in the future, they are brought to justice. It's very important that this is clear to everybody, that this is not because perhaps one day Tribunal will be closed that it would be the end for the search of remaining fugitives and in particular Mladic and Karadzic.’

After his visit to Brussels where he talked with high representative Javier Solana and Commissioner Olli Rehn, Brammertz is sure that The Hague Tribunal has full support of the EU. Like his predecessor, Brammertz stresses the importance of the EU policy of conditioning and putting pressure on the countries in the region.

‘What we have asked to the countries of EU, the European institutions but also other countries is to use all legal means to put pressure on those who can be helpful in arresting the remaining fugitives. This is the strong message we are giving to everybody. Now, the conditionality, off course if you look into the past, everybody has to agree that the conditionality was very successful in having fugitives arrested’

Serge Brammertz plans his first visits to Zagreb, Sarajevo and Belgrade in late February and early March 2008

‘I'm looking forward to going to the region to establish my own contacts and to establish a trustful relationship with all the interlocutors from the law enforcement community but also from the political level. While respecting each interlocutor for what he is and what he represents, I will at the same time be very firm in insisting on the necessity and obligation to cooperate with us in order to continue fulfilling our mandate. I think it's in the interest of the countries in the region, it's in the interest of the Tribunal, it's in the interest of Europe, it's in the interest of the international community that the Tribunal can complete its mandate in the best possible way and as I mentioned several times the arrest of the remaining fugitives is one of the key elements where we have all together joined the responsibility’.

Full version of the interview with the new chief prosecutor will be broadcast in the 354th edition of TV Tribunal, also available on the Internet at www.sense-agency.com