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ICTY to remain in operation beyond 2010: UN SG

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] said [transcript; UN News Centre report] on Tuesday that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] will continue to operate beyond its originally planned end date at the end of this year. Ban estimated that it will be necessary for the court to remain open until 2013. Part of the reason for the extension is that two of the primary suspects remain at large. Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic [case materials; JURIST news archive] and political leader Goran Hadzic [case materials] both face a significant number of charges. Ban said:

When these Special Tribunals were established, they were established for a temporary purpose with a certain date fixed. ... There is some broad agreement now that ICTY may need at least a few more years, to 2013 or so. Our hope is that all these pending cases should be expedited. If and when these two fugitives are arrested, then we will have to discuss again how we can adjust, or we can leave it to other mechanisms - this was discussed already between the ICTY and the Security Council. At this time, since we do not have any clear idea when these two fugitives would be arrested, with the help of those countries concerned, then they should live up to their schedules according to exit strategies.

Mladic faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for overseeing the Srebrenica [JURIST news archive] prison massacre and other killings of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, while Hadzic faces crimes against humanity charges for killings of non-Serbs and for abuses in Croatian prison camps.

Despite two of the highest-level targets remaining fugitives, the ICTY continues to actively prosecute other criminals. Last week, the court heard opening statements in the trial of Radovan Karadzic [case materials; JURIST news archive]. Karadzic claims that attacks against Bosnian Muslims were "staged," denying [JURIST reports] any involvement in war crimes allegedly committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. Last month, Karadzic appeared before the ICTY seeking access to documents [JURIST report] he claimed showed evidence of weapons smuggling to Bosnian Muslims. Also last month, the ICTY opened the trial [JURIST report] of former Bosnian Serb leader Zdravko Tolimir [case materials; JURIST news archive]. Tolimir is charged [indictment, PDF] with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, and murder against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. The ICTY has indicted 161 political and military officials since its creation in 1993.

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