TRIBUNAL’S SUCCESS DEPENDS ON NATIONAL COURTS TAKING UP WAR CRIMES PROSECUTION
The Tribunal’s chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz is happy with the cooperation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia with the Tribunal. Brammertz has nevertheless urged Sarajevo to complete the investigations and proceed to trial as soon as possible in the cases based on the evidence gathered and turned over to the BH courts by the OTP. Brammertz expects Belgrade to urgently deliver a report on the network that had helped Mladic and Hadzic evade international justice for so many years
In his bi-annual report to the Security Council, Serge Brammertz focused on the cooperation of the states in the region with the OTP. As the Tribunal moves further towards the completion of its mandate, the overall measure of its success will depend on handling effectively the transition from the Tribunal to national war crimes prosecutions in the former Yugoslavia, Brammertz stated.
The main criticism levied at the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities pertains to the ‘delays’ in the cases where the Tribunal’s OTP gathered some evidence which was not enough to issue an indictment before the international court. OTP transferred the evidence to the local judiciary to continue the prosecution. Out of the 13 files (involving 38 suspects) transferred by the OTP to the authorities in Sarajevo, only four have been finalized and nine are still at the investigative phase. The last indictment based on the materials gathered by the investigators from The Hague was filed in 2008, Brammertz recalled. The chief prosecutor encouraged the local authorities in BH to expeditiously investigate and prosecute cases based on investigation files transferred by the OTP. The special war crimes department of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in BH committed itself to completing investigations by the end of this year, Brammertz said.
The arrest of the fugitive Radovan Stankovic in January 2012 was a ‘positive development’ for the victims of crimes in Foca, the chief prosecutor said. Stankovic is the first accused whose case the Tribunal turned over to the local courts. Stankovic was serving his 20-year sentence in Foca when he escaped from prison in May 2007. The chief prosecutor urged the authorities to take all the measures and increase the security in prisons to prevent any new escapes.
The chief prosecutor is happy with the cooperation of Croatia and Serbia with the Tribunal, noting that 18 requests for assistance in the cases in the trial or appellate stages have been sent to Zagreb and 59 to Belgrade. The authorities responded “promptly and adequately’. According to Brammertz, Serbia’s cooperation and access to documents and archives is still essential in the effort to complete the first-instance and appellate proceedings before the Tribunal.
Brammertz recalled that last year Serbia had pledged to deliver to the OTP a report on how Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic had managed to evade arrest for so many years and who had been helping them. There has been no visible progress there, the chief prosecutor said. Brammertz concluded that Serbia had to ‘intensify its efforts’ to gather the information and deliver it to the OTP in The Hague.