Hague Tribunal: Carla del Ponte flouts the law

The chief prosecutor of the International Penal Court at The Hague, Carla del Ponte, has proved definitively that neither she, nor the court she represents, respects the law.

Complaining that the authorities in Belgrade have taken seven months to respond to an indictment against four ex-soldiers over their alleged actions during the siege of Dubrovnik, Carla del Ponte issued the following statement: “The prosecutor deplores the refusal of the Yugoslav Federal authorities to cooperate with the tribunal."

The fact is that there is an insufficient legal apparatus in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to respond to the indictment, according to Federal Justice Minister Savo Markovic.

“The justice ministry’s jurisdiction is very limited in such cases, because there is no law on the Federal level to regulate details of cooperation with the Hague Tribunal," he claimed. States of law act according to their justice system’s parameters, which is based upon the country’s legally constituted Constitution.

Mr. Markovic’s statement again raises the question of the illegal abduction of ex-President Slobodan Milosevic, spirited out of the country and into The Hague by a hurried emergency meeting of part of Zoran Djindjic’s cabinet and by an illegal decision at national and federal levels.

If there is insufficient legislation to cooperate with the Hague tribunal in the case of these four ex-army officers, accused of breach of the Geneva convention by illegally killing 43 civilians during the two-month siege of Dubrovnik in October/December 1991, then the case is clear that Mr. Milosevic is being held illegally and should be released immediately.

The Hague tribunal is a travesty of international justice and its chief prosecutor is an insult to the legal profession. Not only does she and her hideous institution show a total derision of national law and international agreements but also an absence of bias, that sine qua non of any serious legal professional.

If NATO aircraft can attack targets and lament that civilians were killed as “collateral damage," if American aircraft can strafe agricultural fields in Iraq to deprive the civilian population of food, if depleted uranium weapons can leave large areas contaminated (500,000 Iraqi children have died of cancer since the Gulf war), and the Hague is blind to these crimes, it would appear that International Penal Court is everything but impartial and as such, it has no legal foundation to act.

NATO’s actions were a direct breach of the Geneva Convention. Civilians were killed. Weapons of mass destruction, which left sequels on the battlefield after the conflict, were deployed. These are war crimes. These are crimes which breach the Geneva Convention, signed in the country where Ms. Del Ponte is from. That the perpetrators of these acts are not also on trial at the Hague tribunal is not only absurd, it is an insult to the intelligence of all civilised persons who respect states of law.

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL

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