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 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 14:24 GMT
UN prosecutor asks for Serbian president
Carla del Ponte
Del Ponte: Waiting 20 months for Milosevic documents
The chief prosecutor at the international war crimes tribunal, Carla Del Ponte, has called on Belgrade to hand over Serbian President Milan Milutinovic when his term ends in two weeks' time.

Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic announced his refusal to speak with me on the telephone, after we agreed to get in touch. So much for dialogue

UN chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte
Mr Milutinovic is wanted by the tribunal for his alleged role in atrocities in Kosovo in 1998-99, but currently enjoys immunity from prosecution.

Mrs Del Ponte also complained about the failure of the Yugoslav authorities to co-operate fully with the tribunal, and said she had been snubbed by Yugoslav Foreign Minister on Thursday.

"My statement today is triggered by the fact that the Yugoslav Foreign Minister and President of the National Council for Co-operation, [Goran] Svilanovic, refused to speak to me, yesterday, exactly on the issue of co-operation," she said.

Time pressure

"He announced his refusal to speak with me on the telephone, after we agreed to get in touch. So much for dialogue."

Milan Milutinovic
Milutinovic says he had no real power
On Wednesday, the United Nations' Security Council urged all governments in the former Yugoslavia to honour their obligations to the international community and enter into a "constructive dialogue" with the tribunal.

The security council has set a deadline of 2008 for the court to wrap up its work, but this will be extended until the top fugitives, including Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, have been tried.

Mrs Del Ponte urged Belgrade at least to hand over documents needed for the trial of the former Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic.

She said requests for some of these were made 20 months ago.

Historical record

Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice is under pressure to finish the Milosevic case by May.

On Friday he said the trial "was in no particular difficulty" despite Belgrade's failure to co-operate.

But he said he had been hoping to bolster the case with better documents and witnesses, to which he does not currently have access "so that the best record can be left for history".

On Thursday, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said Mr Milutinovic would have to face the charges against him in The Hague.

Mr Milutinovic, whose term ends on 5 January, says he had no real power during the Kosovo conflict, and is therefore not responsible for what happened there.


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17 Apr 02 | Europe
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