By Charles TrueheartThe successes in Kosovo outweigh the failures
Paris, Saturday, April 29, 2000
PARIS - The United Nations war crimes tribunal is seeking permission to visit Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital, in an effort to re-establish working relations with the country whose leaders it is prosecuting.
Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor of the Netherlands-based tribunal, has told Yugoslav authorities that she and her deputy want to interview witnesses to alleged Serbian atrocities.
"We wanted to formally establish our interest in renewing our investigations in Serbia proper," said Paul Risley, the chief prosecutor's spokesman. Currently, there are witnesses to whom the tribunal has "absolutely no access," he said.
But the tribunal's visa request for Mrs. del Ponte and her deputy, Graham Blewitt, is not likely to be granted.
The Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, has long denounced the tribunal. He has refused to honor his country's obligations as a member of the United Nations to cooperate with its investigations of alleged war crimes from both the 1992-1995 Bosnian war and the Kosovo conflict in 1999.
Yugoslavia's refusal to admit tribunal officials and investigators to areas in Kosovo where there had been reports of Serbian atrocities against ethnic Albanians helped to precipitate the NATO bombing campaign against the Belgrade government last year.
Last May, Mr. Milosevic and four other senior Serbian officials were indicted for crimes against humanity and other war crimes by the tribunal.