Sunday, September 23, 2007


WASHINGTON,USA (September 23,2007) - Former U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrook has denied he struck a deal with Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadžić.

Holbrook, one of the authors of the Dayton peace accord that ended the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, told Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz yesterday that recent claims about an immunity deal the U.S. granted the former political leader of the Serbians living in Bosnia, Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadžić, were "disgusting lies."

Former Hague Tribunal prosecution spokeswoman, Florence Hartmann, said in a recently published book that Washington protected Serbian war criminal Karadžić,wanted by a U.N. war crimes tribunal for charges including genocide,allowing him impunity in exchange for his withdrawal from public life.

"It is amazing that there are still people in this world who trust the word of a war criminal over that of the United States and the people who brought peace to the Balkans," Holbrook told the newspaper.

"I have been hearing these claims for the past ten years. I will no longer pay any attention to them and I will not react," Bosnian daily quoted the diplomat.

Meantime, Hartmann, the author of “Peace and Punishment: The Secret Hague Wars Between International Law and International Politics”, told a Slovenian daily Delo that the world powers could have, but did not prevent the genocide that the genocidal Serbian formations committed against hundreds of thousands of Bosnians, during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

Hartmann's book has already stirred controversy with its claim that the world powers went on to obstruct the arrest of Serbian war criminals responsible for genocide in Bosnia.


NEW YORK,USA (September 23,2007) - The new leadership of the United Nations is facing a defiant challenge from within one of its few recent successes - the war crimes tribunal in The Hague - over who will steer the epic trials towards their close.

Prosecution lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) - trying Europe's bloodiest war criminals since the Nazis - fear a backstage deal has been struck between new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over an appointment of a successor to chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who leaves in December. Senior Hague lawyers say they are ready to quit over the issue.

Accounts by tribunal and UN sources of how a former Belgian attorney-general petitioned for the job and has reportedly been guaranteed it affords a rare insight into the veiled sanctums of the UN.

Sources at the ICTY, at UN headquarters in New York and across the world of international law and human rights advocacy, say Del Ponte's succession has been pledged in secret to Serge Brammertz, a Belgian criminologist who became deputy prosecutor at the new International Criminal Court and heads the UN commission into the murder of Lebanese premier Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005, which he wants to leave.

The entire senior prosecution staff at the tribunal have taken the unprecedented step of sending a joint letter to Ki-Moon, contesting a Brammertz appointment by proposing Del Ponte's current deputy David Tolbert, who has worked for nine years at the tribunal, for the job.

"The matter is not one of personalities nor Brammertz's standing", says one lawyer. "It's the difference between someone who knows the history, understands every case and can deliver a completion strategy, or someone brought in by the Secretary General just to shut the tribunal down, with no experience of the cases, background or region."

Ki-Moon's office will not comment, citing confidentiality of the appointments procedure. But the lawyers' view is backed unanimously by organisations with an interest in the tribunal's work, including the George Soros Foundation, Human Rights Watch and campaigners within former Yugoslavia itself, all of whom have also petitioned Ki-Moon.

"Just because people haven't heard of the names remaining to stand trial doesn't mean that they are not the most important cases," says Kelly Askin, senior legal officer at the Soros Foundation.

"It's crucial that there be continuity - and the fact is we have someone available who knows the institution and the people, and has followed every case and every detail for nine years. Several senior staff have told me they will leave the tribunal if David Tolbert is not appointed."

The ICTY has had a bumpy journey since it was established under pressure from then President Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, in 1994. It was seen at the time as an act of contrition after the UN's catastrophic failure to intervene as hundreds of thousands died in three years of savage Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, culminating with the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian men and boys at the UN-protected 'Safe Area' of Srebrenica in July 1995.

The tribunal lost its biggest catch with the death in prison of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and is haunted by the failure to catch the two former leaders of the serbians living in bosnia accused of unleashing the genocide in Bosnia - Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Their capture would extend the tribunal's mandate beyond 2010.

But crucial trials are outstanding or still in process - former leadership of the Croatians living in Bosnia is currently standing trial for crimes committed during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia; notorious Serbian war criminal Milan Lukic awaits trial, accused of locking scores of Bosnian civilians in houses and burning them alive in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

Above all, Serbian war criminal Momcilo Peresic - Milosevic's most senior general - is also due for trial. It is a critical case, because a conviction would establish Serbia's direct involvement in the genocide in Bosnia, in stark counterpoint to a ruling by the International Court of Justice, which rejected a case by Bosnia against Serbia for its direct involvement in genocide in Bosnia.The court ruled, however, that Serbia did nothing to prevent genocide and punish the culprits.

As the first country standing trial for genocide before the International Court of Justice, Serbia was found guilty of two violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on February 26 of this year. On the count of prevention: Serbia has violated the obligation to prevent genocide to occur in Bosnia; on the count of punishment: by harbouring on its territory Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Zdravko Tolimir in connection with the genocide in Bosnia.

An ICTY statement last week said del Ponte's mandate had been extended until 31 December. 'The successor to the current prosecutor has not yet been appointed yet,' it said.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 23,2007) _ Tens of millions of Bosnian Marks (BAM), were misspent in the FBIH entity in 2006 due to lack of internal controls and violations of the law, according to an auditors’ report.A report released by the Auditor’s Office of the FBIH entity noted irregularities, and legal violations in all 10 cantons.

None of the cantons passed the audit with positive marks, but four of them received so-called “conditional assessments” which means they can get a positive evaluation once some corrections and improvements have been carried out, said Chief Auditor Ibrahim Okanovic.

“Breaching legal regulations on handling the budget was registered in two cantons.Internal controls also failed in some areas involving the payment of wages, allowances and commissions. This irregularity was registered in all cantons,” Okanovic said.

Violations of the law on public procurement are seen as one of the biggest problems in the administration.The ten cantonal budgets last year amounted to a combined total of 1.7 billion Bosnian Marks (867 million Euros), which is more than the FBIH entity’s entire budget.

Out of those funds, the cantons spent 21,5 million Bosnian Marks (nearly 11 million Euros) on public procurement.

“Major irregularities were noted due to the violations of the public procurement law, and obviously there are reasons why this was being done,” said Okanovic, adding that preferential status allowed even unregistered companies to participate in public works.

Okanovic complained that although the auditors informed the parliament about the irregularities three months ago, MPs have yet to discuss the report.

Auditors have been issuing detailed reports for several years, but analysts say no legal action has been taken by the authorities, and similar problems keep being reported year after year.


PLEVEN, Bulgaria (September 23,2007) – A Ministerial Conference of countries from the Salzburg Forum opened by the Bulgarian Interior Minister Rumen Petkov. It was for the first time in an enlarged format including representatives of the countries of the Western Balkans.

The Salzburg Forum Ministerial Conference held in Bulgaria was attended by the Bosnian delegation lead by the Bosnian Minister of Safety Tarik Sadovic.A Declaration on Forming the “Group of Friendship” Initiative for the West Balkan Countries was adopted on Friday.

The forum attended the interior ministers of Bosnia,Austria, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Romania and Serbia. Another four countries were represented at the deputy-ministerial level, namely the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Macedonia and Montenegro.

The Salzburg Forum is an informal initiative within the framework of the EU. The programme of the conference includes discussions in spheres like police cooperation in preventing organised crime, security of EU external borders, European migration policy and others.

Bulgaria has undertaken the presidency of the Forum on July 1, 2007. The chairman of the Bulgarian parliamentary commission on home security and public order Nikolai Svinarov said at the opening that Bulgaria’s presidency of the forum is recognition of the country as a source of stability and security in the region.