Carla Del Ponte honored with Hessian Peace Prize for prosecuting war crimes | News | DW | 23.02.2018
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Carla Del Ponte honored with Hessian Peace Prize for prosecuting war crimes

Ex-war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte received a €25,000 prize in the German state of Hesse for her "uncompromising fight for peace." In her speech, the Swiss-born Del Ponte called for urgent reform of the UN.

Officials in the German state of Hesse honored anti-war crimes crusader Carla Del Ponte on Friday by presenting her with the Albert Osswald Foundation's Peace Prize.

The 71-year-old Del Ponte led an "uncompromising fight for peace" during her career as international prosecutor, the jury said.

Del Ponte first made international headlines by clashing with the Sicilian mafia and surviving an assassination attempt while working as the public prosecutor in Switzerland. In 1999, however, she became the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She stayed in this position until 2007. During this time, she riled many powerful figures in the Balkans by insisting that suspected war criminals — many of them hailed as heroes in their home countries — face prosecution. She was also responsible for prosecuting war crimes in Rwanda between 1999 and 2003.

Reforming the UN for world peace

Del Ponte is known for her outspoken communication style. Last summer, she gave up the place on the UN's Commission of Inquiry on Syria, saying that the body "does absolutely nothing."

The vice president of the European Court of Human Rights, Angelika Nußberger, praised the Swiss-born awardee at Friday's ceremony. Del Ponte was ready "to give up everything, in the truest sense of the word," Nußberger said, including "years of her life, her energy, her safety" in her fight for justice.

Accepting the €25,000 ($30,760) award, Del Ponte decried inaction in the civil war in Syria.

"International justice is only possible if there is political will for it," she said. The ex-prosecutor also called for an urgent reform of the UN, saying that without it, global peace was "not even visible on the horizon."

dj/msh (dpa, AFP, KNA)

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