DEL PONTE INVITES BELGRADE TO "PUT ITS ACTIONS WHERE ITS MOUTH IS"
Chief Prosecutor of the Tribunal holds a press conference regarding the Hadzic case. The accused disappeared seven hours after the authorities were served with the sealed indictment and arrest warrant, 17 hours before the District Court in Belgrade transmitted the warrant for Hadzic's arrest to the Serbian MUP
Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor in the Tribunal
Goran Hadzic, former president of the former Republic of Serbian Krajina, vanished without a trace less than seven hours after the sealed indictment and warrant for his arrest were handed to the Belgrade authorities, stated Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte at the press conference today.
In a statement Del Ponte read before the reporters, she gave a painstaking day-by-day, hour-by-hour account of the developments in the Hadzic case. The indictment, arrest warrant and information about the current whereabouts of the accused were handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, 13 July, at 9,30 a.m. Six hours later, the Ministry transmitted the whole file to the District Court in Belgrade, where the indictment and the arrest warrant were received after office hours. The next morning, at 9 a.m., the warrant for Hadzic's arrest was transmitted from the District Court to the Serbian MUP, but the accused was no longer to be found at the address provided the day before by the Office of the Prosecutor. This was, Del Ponte claims, the second instance this year that an accused vanished as soon as the Belgrade authorities were asked to arrest them, on the basis of the information that the OTP had about their whereabouts.
Judging by the statement made by Del Ponte, the OTP was able to reconstruct precisely Hadzic's movements on the critical day, 13 July. At 12,38, the accused left his home, but returned 45 minutes later, at 13,18, remaining with his family until 16,29. He then left the house again, with a bag, got into a car and drove away. At 18,50 his driver returned the car, but without Hadzic in it.
The next day, 15 July, the police informed the judge of the District Court that it was unable to locate the accused and that his whereabouts were unknown. The judge informed the OTP about these developments on Friday, in response to the request from The Hague. The indictment against Goran Hadzic was subsequently unsealed.
Del Ponte claims that she is surprised at the new failure of the Belgrade authorities, in light of the statements made in the past ten days by Serbia-Montenegro officials, who announced that substantial progress would be made vis-à-vis their cooperation with the Tribunal. She quoted several statements to that effect, made by President Boris Tadic, President Svetozar Marovic, Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic, Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, and finally, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. She concluded that the time had come for Belgrade to "put its actions where its mouth is", i.e., to arrest Hadzic and hand him over to the Tribunal.
If they fail to do so, if their words remain just “empty promises”, Del Ponte said, she would have no choice but to request the ICTY President to notify once again the Security Council of Serbia-Montenegro's failure to comply with their obligation to cooperate with the Tribunal. At the end of her statement, she did however express her hope that the Serbia-Montenegro authorities would "very soon, within the next hours, give us sincere signs of their good will, and put concrete actions behind their recent encouraging oral commitments.”