(AP, DPA, VOA, UN News Centre - 04/06/08; AFP, DPA, Xinhua, UN, ICTY - 28/11/07; AP, Reuters - 13/11/07; UN - 17/01/06; ICTY; UN)
Belgian lawyer Serge Brammertz took office as the chief war crimes prosecutor at The Hague on January 1st 2008. He replaced Carla del Ponte of Switzerland, who stepped down after the end of her second four-year term in the post, becoming the UN tribunal's fifth chief prosecutor since its establishment in 1993.
Born on February 17th 1962, in the eastern Belgian town of Eupen, Brammertz holds a law degree from the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, a degree in criminology from the University of Liege and a PhD in international law from the Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg, Germany.
From 1996 to 1997, he served as deputy prosecutor, then chief deputy prosecutor at the Court of First Instance in his home town, before being appointed deputy to the prosecutor-general at the Liege Court of Appeal.
From 1997 to 2002, Brammertz was federal prosecutor of Belgium. While serving in that post, he supervised numerous investigations and trials related to organised crime, terrorism and violations of international humanitarian law. Meanwhile, he also served as scientific assistant and then professor of law at the University of Liege.
The Belgian lawyer and author of numerous publications on global terrorism, organised crime and corruption then joined the nascent International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. In September 2003, Brammertz was elected deputy prosecutor of the court, in charge of the investigations division of the office of the prosecutor.
In January 2006, Brammertz replaced German magistrate Detlev Mehlis as the commissioner of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission examining the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. He was still holding that post in November 2007, when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named him as del Ponte's successor.
The UN Security Council approved his appointment to a four-year term as chief ICTY prosecutor on November 28th 2007. But it also noted that Brammertz's tenure could be terminated earlier, if the targets in the tribunal's completion strategy, envisioning closure of the court in 2010, are met.
At the time when he replaced del Ponte, the ICTY was still seeking the arrest of four remaining war crimes indictees from the Balkan conflicts in the 1990s -- former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, his military commander, Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb police commander Stojan Zupljanin and wartime Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic.
"I hope they will be arrested soon. Arrest of the fugitives is part of my mandate and one of my priorities," Brammertz said in an interview in March 2008."Karadzic, Mladic, Hadzic and Zupljanin must face justice and the tribunal must have a possibility to successfully complete its mandate. That is the only way towards the long-lasting stability in the region."