CARLA DEL Ponte will fight to hold on to her post today as chief prosecutor of the UN court trying perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda, amid claims that political opponents are trying to undermine her investigations.
The Swiss prosecutor will meet the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, who is under pressure to remove her from the tribunal, set up to prosecute crimes in Rwanda in 1994. The row is the most serious challenge to the authority of Ms Del Ponte, who is also chief prosecutor for the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, a post not thought to be threatened.
Rumours spread last week that Ms Del Ponte will be relieved of prosecuting those responsible for the Rwandan genocide because of the slow pace of the tribunal, in Arusha, Tanzania. Mr Annan is said to have canvassed the UN Security Council about splitting the posts of prosecutor for the two UN tribunals.
Relations between Ms Del Ponte and the Rwandan government have been strained for some time and the authorities in Kigali have backed the idea of separating the jobs. But Ms Del Ponte's supporters say efforts to destabilise her are politically motivated and designed to inhibit investigation of war crimes to which government officials or supporters may be linked.
The chain-smoking prosecutor, who has survived Mafia assassination attempts and has been nicknamed "the new Gestapo" for her ruthless crusade to bring Yugoslav war criminals to justice, has accused Rwanda of preventing witnesses appearing at trials.
She has made clear she intends to investigate abuses by the Tutsi- led Rwandan Patriotic Army. …