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Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations with Humanity's Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity Hardcover – January 20, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Del Ponte, protagonist of this dogged, hard-nosed memoir, was chief prosecutor for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the biggest war crimes prosecution since WWII. Her investigations had her ousted from the Rwandan tribunal and insulted in Yugoslavia (Carla is a whore, Belgrade billboards proclaimed), and she lacked police powers to compel cooperation or even respect. Her mission became a battle between moral dudgeon and realpolitik. She repeatedly importunes government officials, especially the Serbs, to arrest and deliver up influential citizens for prosecution as war criminals; when they respond with evasions and stonewalling, she importunes world leaders to use their clout to force compliance with the tribunal's warrants. She accomplished much, including the prosecution of Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, but the memoir wears itself out detailing her interminable, fruitless efforts to apprehend Serbian fugitives Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Del Ponte sometimes comes off as chief scold; even Vatican officials incur tongue-lashings. Her implacable quest for justice is admirable and at times illuminating, but it makes for a repetitive and exhausting read. (Jan.)
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New York Times Book Review

"Cynics argue that because the United Nations was unable to stop the carnage in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, it set up war crimes tribunals instead, as a kind of humanitarian consolation prize.
What the diplomats did not expect was Carla Del Ponte’s determination to bring the perpetrators to justice and to end the culture of impunity. As the attorney general of Switzerland, she had fought against the muro di gomma, the wall of rubber, that deflected her attempts to stop Mafia money-laundering. “Madame Prosecutor” is her account of battling the muro di gomma across the Balkans, Rwanda and Western capitals.
It is a relentless, sometimes (understandably) angry book, and an important insider’s account of the quest for international justice."


"Carla Del Ponte is not the quiet type. The tenacious European prosecutor took on some of the most powerful members of the Sicilian mafia, hammering away at their now infamous "pizza connection" with Swiss bankers. As head of the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, she hauled Slobodan Milosevic and dozens of others into court for war crimes, and investigated acts of genocide in Rwanda. Her enemies branded her "the whore" and plotted to blow her up with bombs, prompting the Swiss government to assign her around-the-clock bodyguards, who protect her to this day. Her investigative prowess impressed former FBI director Louis Freeh—and infuriated former CIA director George Tenet, whom she badgered for assistance in tracking Milosevic's henchmen. And in her new memoir, "Madame Prosecutor," the English-language edition of which was released this month, she courts fresh controversy by charging that officials at the United Nations and NATO failed to properly investigate allegations of Albanian atrocities against Serbs in Kosovo in 1999."

ForeWord Magazine

"Madame Prosecutor is a lengthy discussion of the heinousness of crimes against humanity and a poignant plea for a better international crimi-nal justice system. Using the imperfect system now in place, Del Ponte’s efforts to bring war criminals to trial are nothing short of fascinating and heroic. Her work contributed to the indictment, arrest, or prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic and dozens more. Sudetic’s experience as a New York Times reporter and author as well as his work as an analyst for the Yugoslavia tribunal and his current position as senior writer for the Open So-ciety Institute, also inform the politics and scope of Madame Prosecutor."

Publishers Weekly

“Del Ponte, protagonist of this...hard-nosed memoir, was chief prosecutor for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the biggest war crimes prosecution since WWII… Her implacable quest for justice is admirable…”

Kirkus Reviews

“The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda recounts eight years of frustration seeking justice for the victims of genocide and crimes against humanity.”

The Economist

“Crucial historical depth…is what separates [Madame Prosecutor] from the dozens of others written by the diplomats and soldiers who have tangled with the Balkans.”

The New York Review of Books

“Carla del Ponte’s recollection and defense of her controversial tenure as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal…mercilessly searches for historical truth...What drove [Del Ponte] with a kind of manic fury was a desire to see justice done.”

Elle Magazine

Onetime Swiss Attorney General Carla Del Ponte was chief prosecutor for the international tribunals that went after the genocidal masterminds responsible for mass violence in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations With Humanity’s Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity (Other Press), coauthored with reporter-writer Chuck Sudetic, is her unforgettably brave story.

California Lawyer

"Del Ponte offers a highly personal story of how she took on the awesome responsibility of prosecuting war crimes."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590513029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590513026
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #855,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ewaffle on August 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
After reading "Madame Prosecutor" I am more convinced than ever that the International Criminal Tribunal at the Hague, run by the United Nations and for which Carla Del Ponte was the chief prosecutor for crimes against humanity committed in Rawanda and Yugoslavia, is not the best way or even a very good way to go after war criminals.

The problem is certainly not with Del Ponte--she was a dogged worker, good manager and dedicated prosecutor. She does not come across as a person one would want as a friend but as someone to bring end the culture of impunity enjoyed by mass murderers. I doubt if a anyone could do better given the built-in constraints of the system.

Del Ponte was both ambitious, wanting success for its own sake and to continue her career but also fervent in her desire to get the people ultimately guilty for some of the worst crimes since the end of World War II. She is able to ignore the details of slaughter and refuses to prosecute the low level soldiers and police officers guilty of murder. She wants the monsters who initiated the reign of terror against helpless civilians in central Africa and Southeast Europe.

The biggest problem she faced is the willingness of the United States, France, the United Kingdom and other nations who have tried to seize the moral high ground recently to value diplomacy over justice. Another difficulty is the bureacracy of the UN itself. There are plenty of other reasons why the going has been slow and few of the guilty have been tried.

Spain showed the way when a court there indicted Augusto Pinochet for crimes committed during his term as dictator in Chile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. van Rooijen on June 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Carla del Ponte served as the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (1999-2003) and the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia (1999-2008). While there is a short chapter about del Ponte's childhood and her work in Switzerland as a public prosecutor, the majority of the books deals with her role as chief prosecutor of the ICTY and the ICTR. But if you are looking for sweeping descriptions of court cases with explanations on the evidence and witness testimonies, you are looking in the wrong place.

Del Ponte gives a decent enough background and description of the situation in Rwanda and Yugoslavia to put the cases against the different war criminals in perspective. However, del Ponte spent most of the book describing her encounters with the muro di gomma, the rubber wall. As chief prosecutor of the ICTY and the ICTR it was her responsibility to secure continued support and cooperation from the different countries involved in establishing these two international tribunals. Yet everywhere she turns she encounters opposition against her work. Many countries promise to help capture the accused, but few follow through on those promises in a timely fashion or at all. Del Ponte creates a very clear picture of how frustrating this hostility is, but it appears to only motivate her more.

Another interesting point del Ponte makes are about the cases she would have like to have prosecuted, but was incapable of doing due to a variety of reasons. She repeatedly speaks about her desire to bring Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to answer for their crimes during the Rwandan genocide and the aftermath.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By vitamin on July 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Today's news report explains the gist of this book the best.


Serbia fully committed to cooperation with ICTY

President of the National Council for Cooperation with the ICTY Rasim Ljajic met today with ICTY President Patrick Robinson. This is Robinson's first official visit to Belgrade.

According to a statement issued by the National Council, Ljajic informed Robinson about Serbia's efforts and commitment in cooperating with the tribunal.

Ljajic also told Robinson about current activities for apprehending the remaining two Hague indictees, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.

Robinson said that he is aware of the changes in Serbia's overall political climate and of the commitment of the Serbian authorities to fully cooperate with the tribunal, adding that he thinks that this is extremely important for confronting the past, for reconciliation to take place in the region and for strengthening the rule of law.

Serbia's initiative to create conditions for Hague indictees found guilty to serve their prison terms in their respective countries was also discussed at the meeting.

Robinson stressed that the ICTY has received several such demands from Slovenia and Croatia, adding that this is the right moment to consider the issue and it is possible that the Security Council will make a final decision regarding this matter within the foreseeable future.

The issue of providing medical aid to indictees in detention was also discussed. It was stated that Serbian doctors should be more involved in this process.


Carla Del Ponte goes into juicy and fascinating -- in a terrifying sense -- detail to expose the pretense from the above news clipping.
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