Arrest of Mladic and Hadzic still key to ICTY Completion Strategy 04 Dec 2009
On Thursday 3 December 2009, the President and Prosecutor at the ICTY reported to the UN Security Council on the Tribunal's Completion Strategy.

President of the ICTY, Judge Patrick RobinsonPursuant to Resolution 1534, on 3 December 2009 the President and the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) gave their six-monthly assessment of the Tribunal’s progress towards its Completion Strategy. According to their estimations, all trials are set to be completed by mid-2011, with the exception of the Radovan Karadžić case, which is expected to last until 2014 including appeals.

Since they last addressed the Security Council in June of this year, progress has yet to be made in arresting the two remaining fugitives from justice, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. According to both the President and the Prosecutor, the continued flight from justice of the two fugitives remained an issue of concern for the Tribunal’s mandate and would “tarnish the Security Council’s historic contribution to peace-building in the former Yugoslavia.”

The Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, positively noted that Serbia’s cooperation with the Tribunal has continued to progress, with his office being granted more expeditious and effective access to documents and archives. Nevertheless, the Prosecutor reiterated that the most critical aspect of Serbia’s cooperation is the need to apprehend Mladić and Hadžić. He informed the Security Council that a “variety of operational activities including search operations were being conducted” to apprehend the two accused. Commenting further on the cooperation of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, Brammertz noted that the cooperation of states was a “key condition” to a successful completion of the ICTY’s mandate.

“Justice is not only about punishing perpetrators”

President Judge Patrick Robinson also detailed the Tribunal’s work in transforming itself as a residual mechanism. He informed the Security Council of the “mammoth undertaking” required, specifically in declassifying many of the Tribunal’s documents. Further, the President also briefed the Security Council on the work currently being undertaken to strengthen national jurisdictions in the former Yugoslavia as well as to ensure the Tribunal’s legacy. The Prosecutor additionally stated that strengthening national judicial systems “remains a fundamental aspect of the Tribunal’s completion strategy.”

Concerning other issues, the President requested that the Security Council consider a claims commission for the victims of crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia under which they could seek compensation. Judge Robinson reiterated that “justice is not only about punishing perpetrators, but also about restoring dignity to victims”.

Since it began work 16 years ago, proceedings against 121 individuals have been completed at the tribunal. Currently, 24 accused are on trial and 13 accused have appeals pending. With the recent commencement of the Karadžić trial, only the case of Zdravko Tolimir is at the pre-trial stage and is scheduled to commence on 17 December 2009.

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