( dpa )- The new chief prosecutor for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia said Wednesday the arrest of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic remains an "absolute priority" for justice in the former Yugoslavia.
Serge Brammertz took over the post from Carla del Ponte at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague, saying he inherited a "fully functional office staffed with highly dedicated and capable individuals."
Brammertz was the chief investigator of the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and at least 22 political assassinations of anti-Syrian politicians and journalists.
Del Ponte, after eight years at The Hague as prosecutor, stepped down in frustration that the two top indicted war criminals in the Balkans war, from 1993 to 1995, have remained at large. She had accused Belgrade of shielding Mladic and Karadzic.
"Obtaining the arrest and transfer to the tribunal of four remaining fugitives, particularly Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, also remains an absolute priority," Brammertz told his staff at The Hague.
He said the other two indicted war criminals - Goran Hadzic and Stojan Zupjanin - also have to be brought before justice. He plans to meet with governments and organizations in the Balkan region and European Union to demand their cooperation to seize the four fugitives. Mladic and Karadzic have been indicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes for leading the war that killed thousands of Bosnian Muslims.
The tribunal is currently trying 26 individuals for the Bosnian war, nine others are on appeal and 11 others are awaiting trial.
The UN Security Council, which authorized the prosecution of war crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina, has asked that the tribunal to wrap up all cases as soon as possible.