Carla Del Ponte

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Carla Del Ponte
Carla Del Ponte.jpg
Del Ponte in July 2006
Born (1947-02-09) February 9, 1947 (age 72)
Bignasco, Switzerland
Nationality Swiss
Occupation former Chief Prosecutor of two United Nations international criminal law tribunals

Carla Del Ponte (born February 9, 1947) is a former Chief Prosecutor of two United Nations international criminal law tribunals. A former Swiss attorney general, she was appointed prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in August 1999, replacing Louise Arbour.

In 2003, the U.N. Security Council removed Del Ponte as the Prosecutor for the ICTR, and replaced her there with Hassan Bubacar Jallow in an effort to expedite proceedings in that Tribunal. She remained the Prosecutor for the ICTY until 1 January 2008, when she was succeeded by Serge Brammertz. Del Ponte was formerly married, and has one son.

On behalf of the European Parliament she conducted an investigation on allegations of organ trafficking by the Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army. According to these allegations, organs were forcibly taken from Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo and Albania.

Del Ponte served as Swiss ambassador to Argentina from 2008 to February 2011.

Early life and education

Del Ponte was born in Bignasco, Switzerland, in 1947. Her first language is Italian and she speaks fluent German, French and English. Del Ponte studied law in Bern and Geneva, as well as in the United Kingdom. She obtained her LL.M. in 1972.

After completing her studies, Del Ponte joined a private law firm in Lugano, leaving in 1975 to set up her own practice.

Prosecutor at the Lugano district

In 1981 she was appointed an investigating magistrate, and later public prosecutor at the Lugano district attorney's office. As public prosecutor, Del Ponte dealt with cases of money laundering, fraud, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, terrorism and espionage, often looking into the many international links forged in Switzerland's role as a global business centre.

It was during that period that she and Investigative Judge Giovanni Falcone uncovered the link between Swiss money launderers and the Italian drug trade in the so-called "pizza connection." Judge Falcone was killed by a large Mafia bomb. Del Ponte was more fortunate as the half a tonne of explosives planted in the foundations of her Palermo home were discovered in time for her to escape the attempted assassination unhurt. Falcone's death nurtured Del Ponte's resoluteness to fight organised crime. Her enemies in the Cosa Nostra call her "La Puttana" ("the whore"). She therefore became the first public figure in Switzerland to require round-the-clock protection and armour-plated car.[1]

Career at the ICTY

After serving for five years as Switzerland's attorney general, in 1999 Del Ponte joined the ICTY and ICTR to deal with war crimes as prosecutor. In an interview in late 2001 about war crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, Del Ponte said: "Justice for the victims and the survivors requires a comprehensive effort at international and national level."

In August 2003, after being on the Rwandan genocide case for four years, Del Ponte was removed from the appointment for political reasons [2] and replaced by Hassan Bubacar Jallow.

In an interview in Intellectum website in 2004 she boldly stated that she would like to try in ICTY Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.[3]

In 2005, she accused the Vatican of helping Croatia's most wanted war crimes suspect evade capture, who has since been acquitted of all charges by ICTY. The Croatian Bishops' Conference, which heads the Croatian Roman Catholic Church, dismissed Del Ponte's allegations. Its spokesman Antun Suljic said the conference "has no knowledge or indications of the whereabouts" of General Gotovina.[4]

On January 30, 2007 Del Ponte announced her intention to resign as Chief Prosecutor at the ICTY at the end of the year, stating it was "time to return to normal life." [5] She was succeeded by Serge Brammertz on January 1, 2008.

Career as Swiss diplomat, Retirement

Del Ponte served as Switzerland's Ambassador to Argentina from January 2008 until early 2011, when she retired.

Member of Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

Since September 2012, Del Ponte has been a member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic,[6] under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In May 2013 she accused the Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons, a view diametrically opposed by the majority of Western government officials. She stated, "We still have to deepen our investigation, verify and confirm (the findings) through new witness testimony, but according to what we have established so far, it is at the moment opponents of the regime who are using sarin gas."[7] The following day, in an apparent reaction to Del Ponte’ comments, the Commission issued a press release clarifying that it “has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties in the conflict”.[8]

In March 2014, the Commission published a report that stated that the chemical agents used in the Khan-al-Assal chemical attack bore "the same unique hallmarks as those used in Al-Ghouta" in the August 2013 chemical attack. The report also indicated, based on "evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used" that the perpetrators of the Al-Ghouta attack "likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military". In none of the incidents, however, was the commission’s "evidentiary threshold" met in regards to identifying the perpetrators of the chemical attacks.[9]


In late December 1999, in an interview with The Observer in London, Del Ponte was asked if she was prepared to press criminal charges against NATO personnel for alleged war crimes in Kosovo by NATO pilots and their commanders. She replied "If I am not willing to do that, I am not in the right place. I must give up my mission".[10]

This was followed by various negative official responses, military and civilian, from the US and Canada. Del Ponte's office subsequently issued a statement, dated four days later: "NATO is not under investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY. There is no formal inquiry into the actions of NATO during the conflict in Kosovo".[11]

Organ smuggling allegations

In 2008, Del Ponte published a book "The Hunt" in which she claimed that the Kosovo Albanians had smuggled human organs of kidnapped Serbs after the Kosovo war ended in 1999. Her book created an international controversy.[12] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia stated regarding Del Ponte's allegations: "The Tribunal is aware of very serious allegations of human organ trafficking raised by the former Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, in a book recently published in Italian under her name. No evidence in support of such allegations was ever brought before the Tribunal’s judges."[13]

On 4 April 2008 Human Rights Watch asked Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha to open investigations on the matter under international supervision. They ignored the letters and instead publicly rejected Del Ponte's claims as unsubstantiated. On 5 May 2008 Human Rights Watch called the Del Ponte allegations "serious and credible" and publicly called on Tirana and Pristina to cooperate.[14]

Del Ponte alleged that the victims were more than 400 Serbs missing from the war. "Serious and credible allegations have emerged about horrible abuses in Kosovo and Albania after the war," said Fred Abrahams, HRW Senior emergencies researcher of HRW.

In 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe authorized Del Ponte to lead a formal investigation and employed a watcher to report her findings to the Parliament.

According to a draft Council of Europe report cited by The Daily Telegraph, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci was one of the key players in the traffic of organs of Serb prisoners after the 1998-99 conflict.[15]

In November 2012, Haradinaj and all of the accused in this matter were acquitted for the second time of these accusations.[16]

Del Ponte talked about this issue in Boris Malagurski's documentary film The Weight of Chains 2 (2014). In the interview, she claimed that the UN Mission in Kosovo did not provide the Hague Tribunal with the necessary evidence regarding organ trafficking in Kosovo and that "NATO and the KLA, as allies in the war, couldn't act against each other".[17]


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