The Hague, 28 August 2007 (FH) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla del Ponte, who had also been the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) until 2003, will go to Argentina next January, as ambassador of Switzerland, announced on 23 August the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bern.   

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The mandate of Carla del Ponte would have theoretically ended on September 15 but she announced on 27 June, at a meeting of the Council of Europe, that she was accepting, at the request of the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, to remain at the head of the ICTY prosecution until December 2007. This extension, which has not yet been approved by the Security Council, aims at making it possible for the Belgian lawyer Serge Brammertz to succeed Carla del Ponte.
He has been, since January 2006, head of the international inquiry commission set up following the attack perpetrated in February 2005 against the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri; the mandate of Serge Brammertz runs until December 2007. At the ICTY, as in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the announcement of this possible succession involved a certain worry. Many fear an absence of follow-up of the cases, and the arrival of a candidate who knows "neither the Balkans, nor the wheels of the tribunal". The current assistant of Carla del Ponte, American David Tolbert, had been up to now anticipated as her replacement.
Former federal prosecutor of Belgium, Serge Brammertz had been elected in September 2003 assistant prosecutor in charge of investigations at the International Criminal Court (ICC) before joining the inquiry commission into Lebanon. The future prosecutor will have to ensure the closing of the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and, notably, the possibility of setting up mechanisms which will allow to try defendants, including the last four fugitives, beyond the end date of 2010 imposed by the United Nations.
Carla del Ponte had succeeded the Canadian Louise Arbour in September 1999 as Attorney General of the two ad hoc tribunals, for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. But in August 2003, after an intense struggle with the Rwandan authorities, the Swiss woman was dismissed of her mandate as head of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) due to, in particular, her well-known willingness to continue investigations against former members of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA).
Kigali, which was steadfastly opposed to the intentions of the prosecutor, had obtained from the Security Council, 28 August 2003, the designation of a specific prosecutor for the ICTR. Carla del Ponte was pushed aside, but New York took note of the investigations in progress and required that states cooperate with the tribunal, "in particular at the time of the investigations concerning the Rwandan Patriotic Army". Sixteen months before the closure of the ICTR, the successor of Carla del Ponte, Mr. Hassan Jallow, has not yet delivered his opinion on possible prosecution against the RPF.

© Hirondelle News Agency