UN Urged To Pressure Serbia Over Wanted Radicals

The president of the Hague war crimes tribunal told the UN Security Council to take action to ensure that Belgrade finally arrests three wanted members of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party.

The president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Carmel Agius, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that it must act to stop Serbia violating its obligations to the war crimes court.

Agius said that Belgrade has failed to comply with its duties under the Tribunal’s statute by refusing to execute arrest warrants for three members of the Serbian Radical Party who are wanted for contempt of court.

Warrants for the arrest of Vjerica Radeta, Jovo Ostojic and Petar Jojic were issued almost two and a half years ago and they were put on Interpol’s ‘red list’ earlier this year.

Agius said he had that he had formally referred Serbia’s non-compliance to the UN Security Council in a letter on March 1.

“The Republic of Serbia is in violation of its international obligations every day that these arrest warrants and orders for transfer are not executed,” he wrote in the letter.

“The Security Council has the capacity to tackle this issue, and it is imperative that it takes decisive action,” he added.

The three Serbian Radical Party members are accused of contempt of court for interfering with witnesses during the trial of their leader, Vojislav Seselj, who was acquitted of war crimes charges last year, although the case has now gone to appeal.

Serbia has refused to extradite them to The Hague, citing a ruling last year by the Belgrade Higher Court, which said that the Serbian authorities can only arrest people wanted by the Hague Tribunal who are charged with war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity.

The Serbian government has also cited security reasons for not arresting the three Radicals, suggesting that detaining them would cause unrest in the country.

Radeta is an MP in the Serbian parliament, as is her leader Seselj.

All three wanted Radicals have said they will not go to The Hague to face the charges voluntarily.

Seselj has also refused to return to The Hague since he was released for cancer treatment in 2014, and was not in court for the verdict in his trial.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is due to shut down at the end of 2017.

Agius told the UN Security Council that it was on track to complete its mandate, including delivering the verdict in the trial of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic in November this year.


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Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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