Minister: Yugoslavia should Adopt Law for Cooperation with War Crimes Court
Yugoslavia has to adopt a law to regulate its cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal and to clarify issues such as whether indictees, including former president Slobodan Milosevic, should be extradited, a minister said Monday.
"The most rational approach would be to implement rules of the Hague tribunal in the domestic legislature by passing a new bill for cooperation with the court," Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic told reporters.
Such a law would "eliminate all confusion and dilemmas" whether or not those indicted by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) should be handed over to the court, Batic said.
Milosevic and four of his top allies have been indicted by the ICTY for war crimes allegedly committed against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.
The ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte visited Belgrade last week, but failed to win a pledge from President Vojislav Kostunica that war crimes suspects would be surrendered to the court.
Del Ponte insists that war crimes suspects should face trial in The Hague but officials here insist indictees of Yugoslav nationality must be judged in Yugoslavia, citing a constitutional ban on extradition.
But Batic said that legislation leading to a clarification to the issue "will lead to a cooperation with the ICTY and in a direcion of extradition."
The law should be adopted by the Yugoslav parliament, the minister said, adding that "it should be done fast."
"We were hostages of some people while they were in power, but we have no reason to be in the same position now," Batic said.
Asked what will action would be taken on two more indictments that Del Ponte had handed over to the Yugoslav officials during her visit, Batic said: "I assume we would wait for this new law to be adopted."
"The most logical and most painless way will be to regulate this by law," Batic said, indicating that Del Ponte had agreed to wait until such a law was passed by the parliament.
He added that, "sooner or later," Belgrade "must cooperate with the tribunal."
"It would be better if it was sooner," Batic said -- BELGRADE (AFP)