Vatican Denies It's Hiding War-crimes Suspect

Responds to Accusations Over Croatian General

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ROME, SEPT. 20, 2005 ( The Holy See says it has offered no type of refuge to the suspected Croatian war criminal Ante Gotovina.

In fact, the Holy See is waiting for the United Nations’ chief prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia to give it information so that it can aid in the search for Gotovina, said Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

Navarro Valls issued a statement today to clarify declarations from prosecutor Carla del Ponte to the British newspaper Daily Telegraph.

Del Ponte, of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, claimed that the Vatican could point out exactly in which of the Catholic monasteries in Croatia General Gotovina has taken refuge.

Gotovina, 49, is one of the most wanted people from the former Yugoslavia, along with ex-Serbia-Bosnian leader Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic.


The Vatican spokesman said: «[I]n the encounter which Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for relations with states, had with Mrs. Carla del Ponte, in answer to her petitions for information and interventions, Monsignor Lajolo explained that the Secretariat of State is not an organ of the Holy See that can institutionally collaborate with tribunals.

«However, in order to be able to enter into contact with the competent ecclesiastical authority, Archbishop Lajolo asked Mrs. del Ponte to indicate with some precision the indications on which she based her affirmations that General Ante Gotovina was hiding away in specific religious buildings in Croatia since, as a matter of fact, previous investigations had given a negative result.»

«Mrs. del Ponte has not, to the present, responded in any manner to Monsignor Lajolo’s petition,» Navarro Valls’ statement concluded.

Gotovina’s whereabouts have been unknown since 2001, when he was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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