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Yugoslav Tribunal Judge: Trials To Exceed 2008 Deadline

Theodor Meron seen speaking during the inauguration of the tribunal in March Washington, 13 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The president of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal says it is likely trials will continue into 2009 following an influx of indictees.

Judge Theodor Meron today said the arrival of 22 new fugitives or indictees since November is a main reason why trials will exceed their original deadline. The UN Security Council has called for the court to end all trials by the end of 2008 and all appeals by 2010.

Speaking at the UN, Meron stressed the court would continue to operate to prosecute the most wanted fugitive suspects. They are Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic and former Croatian General Ante Gotovina.

"Our historical mission will not have been accomplished and we will not close our doors before Karadzic, Mladic, and Gotovina have arrived at The Hague and have been tried according to the whole panoply of due process and human rights protection that our jurisprudence affords," Meron said.

The tribunal's prosecutor, Carlo Del Ponte, told the Security Council that Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia's Serb entity have improved cooperation with The Hague. But she said they need to improve further to ensure the handover the remaining 10 indictees.