UN prosecutor demands Milosevic stands trial

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The Independent Online

The war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor has repeated her request for Yugoslavia to hand over Slobodan Milosevic to stand trial for war crimes and possible genocide.

The war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor has repeated her request for Yugoslavia to hand over Slobodan Milosevic to stand trial for war crimes and possible genocide.

Carla del Ponte called on president-elect Vojislav Kostunica to give Milosevic up to face charges in The Hague.

She said she believed the Yugoslav people wanted him tried - and claimed it was the only solution to a lasting Balkans peace.

But her demand could be rejected by Kostunica, who said prior to last month's Yugoslav presidential elections that he would not extradite Milosevic to the Netherlands-based court.

The court is widely seen in Yugoslavia as a political instrument of the United States.

Del Carlo said: "I will take this occasion to send a message to the president-elect, Mr. Kostunica, that I'm prepared to receive Milosevic in The Hague at any time.

"It is my hope and expectation that the people of the former Republic of Yugoslavia ... shall express their will to see Milosevic brought to trial in The Hague.

"I truly believe that this is the only solution to a true and lasting peace in the Balkans.

The prosecutor added she will ask to meet Kostunica and reopen the tribunal's offices in Belgrade, which was closed in the midst of the Yugoslav crackdown on ethnic Albanians in the southern Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

Reopening offices in the capital will "help our investigation activity, and especially the access of Serb victims".

Milosevic has been indicted for war crimes for his part in a crackdown against separatist ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Tribunal prosecutors are working to collect additional evidence to bring charges of genocide over the wars in Bosnia and Croatia in the early 1990s, del Ponte said.

The tribunal's forensic investigation into crimes committed in Kosovo since the crackdown against ethnic Albanians began in 1998 should be completed by the end of this month.

More than 4,000 bodies have been exhumed from around the province and examined.

Del Ponte denied accusations by former rebel leader Hashim Thaci that Kosovo Serb and ethnic Albanian political parties have passed documents to the tribunal concerning possible war crimes committed by ethnic Albanian rebels during the conflict.

The tribunal "has had no such contact with any political party in Kosovo and has received no such document," she said.

No secret indictments will be made public yet, she added

"Too many people are fugitives. I will ask the judges to keep the indictments sealed, just to have ... less difficulty to arrest the fugitives."

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