Carla del Ponte, the Swiss lawyer acting as the chief prosecutor of the Hague tribunal, which is not recognised by the United States of America, has been hounding Yugoslav ex-President Slobodan Milosevic and the members of his regime implacably, showing a degree of venom mixed with personal spite, which raises suspicions as to whether there is more to this vendetta than meets the eye.
Carla del Ponte was behind the illegal kidnapping of Slobodan Milosevic after a hurried meeting of part of the Yugoslav cabinet decided to spirit the ex-President out of the country during the night, so as to be eligible for the international aid package, conditional on Milosevic’s detention.
It was thus that Slobodan Milosevic arrived at the International penal Court at The Hague, whose juridical status is not recognised by many countries, among them the USA. Accused or war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, Slobodan Milosevic is, under international law, innocent until he is proven guilty.
However, Carla del Ponte declared in an interview with the BBC Today programme on Thursday that “Milosevic is guilty…he is responsible for all these horrible crimes that were committed”. Such a declaration, in public, from someone who is supposed to be a lawyer, is a personal disgrace and an insult to the profession.
Furthermore, Carla del Ponte made political statements, calling Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica “a big obstacle” to the arrest of General Ratko Mladic, Chief of Staff of the Republika Srpska forces in Bosnia. The fact is that while Kostunica is acting within the letter of the law, Carla del Ponte is not.
President Kostunica declares that co-operation with The Hague will be forthcoming, but naturally within the framework of existing legislation. Where such legislation does not exist, new laws must be made, under the norms stipulated in the Constitution. For this reason, he terms Milosevic’s extradition to the Netherlands “unconstitutional”, given that the ex-President was kidnapped against the ruling of the Supreme Court of Serbia.
Carla del Ponte, frustrated that she did not manage to convince the presiding judge to join the cases against Milosevic together in one, now vents her rage that the political and military leaders of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, are still at large.
She insinuated that the Yugoslav authorities are protecting the latter “It is scandalous that Mladic can move freely in Belgrade”, claiming that he had been seen days previously in a restaurant, with a military escort, and derided the NATO peace-keeping forces in Bosnia for not catching the former, saying she “cannot accept” that it is beyond their abilities to find and arrest Karadzic.
Next time Carla del Ponte visits Belgrade, where she must be as welcome as a drunken intruder at a funeral, she would do well to take some lessons in international law from President Kostunica.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru