"Carla del Ponte told the hit-men where to find me." - Felipe Turover
Carla Del Ponte
"Justice is a woman", said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan about Carla del Ponte, currently Chief Prosecutor in the Hague trial of Slobodan Milosevic. Felipe Turover's experience of the Swiss jurist is very different. 37-year old Felipe comes from a Spanish Republican family whose parents fled with him from Franco to the Soviet Union. After the death of the dictator, Felipe returned to his native land before going back at the end of the 1980s to Moscow as a financial expert. From 1992 to 1999 he worked for the Yeltsin government managing debts with Western creditor banks.
Elsässer: You are the chief witness in the Mabetex case, also known as Russiagate. What is it about and how does Carla del Ponte come into it?
Turover: Mabetex is a construction company based in Lugano in Italian Switzerland. It belongs to the Kosovo Albanian Beghijet Pacolli who now has a Swiss passport. In the 1990s Pacolli and his business partner Viktor Stolpovskich won some two billion euros-worth of orders from the Kremlin, supposedly for building and restoration work in the government and presidential complex. It has been proved that billions of dollars vanished from Russia through this operation, with millions being spent on bribes in Moscow in return. Pacolli acted as guarantor for credit cards for Yeltsin and both his daughters, according to the Banca del Gottardo which issued the cards. Carla del Ponte, at that time a Swiss public prosecutor contacted me in 1997 and asked me to be ready to testify in the case. Later she invited the Russian investigating prosecutor Yuri Skuratov to Switzerland and put me in touch with him. At that time she already had a reputation as a great fighter for justice and I therefore did as she asked. That was an almost fatal error.
Turover: I was dependent on her honesty and had made it clear to her from the start that my testimony placed my life in danger. I was still at the time working as an advisor to the Russian authorities, i.e. for the very people I was incriminating with these documents. So what did Ms del Ponte do? She gave my full name and job to the press. This was as if I had given information to the US Drug Enforcement Agency about the Escobar Clan out of Medellin and then, while still in the lions' den, read in the New York Times that I was the chief witness against Escobar. In my case, it was Moscow rather than Medellin and the newspaper was the Corriere della Sera but the effect was the same. I was in big trouble and saved my life by hurriedly getting out of Moscow. Since then, for the past three years, I have been living undercover. I have Carla del Ponte to thank for this. She told the hit-men where to find me.
Elsässer: Isn't that an exaggeration? How is a Swiss Federal Prosecutor responsible for an article in an Italian newspaper?
Turover: Both the Corriere journalists got all their information from del Ponte, including my mobile phone number. They told me so themselves, because they knew my life was in danger.
Elsässer: Del Ponte has denied that.
Turover: Then she's not telling the truth. And I've already said this many times and she has never threatened to sue for slander. The reason is simple: she has no proof, but I do.
Elsässer: Mabetex boss Pacolli is not only a construction magnate, but is also said to have close ties to the Kosovo Albanian KLA terrorists.
Turover: That's right. He himself has stated that at least until 2000 his group owned the Kosovo Albanian daily "Bota Sot" which even the OSCE condemned for racist articles. Its agitation was aimed mainly at the Serbs, but it also made an anti-Semitic attack on me as the "Jew Turover".
Elsässer: If it were the case that the Yeltsin clan had received Kosovo Albanian bribes, this might explain his behaviour in spring 1999. As NATO prepared for war against Yugoslavia, he didn't lift a finger to help the Serbs, his supposed brother people. At the Rambouillet Conference, when the NATO states took an extremely biased pro-Albanian position, Moscow didn't protest, although its diplomats were at the negotiating table. Did the Kosovo Albanians buy Yeltsin's passivity?
Turover: That's possible. We're looking here at a symbiosis of politics, plunder and money laundering on a large scale.
Elsässer: And del Ponte?
Turover: All the preliminary inquiries in the Mabetex case in Switzerland were politically abandoned at the highest level. Moreover, the documents that del Ponte had received from her Russian colleague Skuratov somehow ended up in Pacolli's possession. He reported back to his Russian friends Yeltsin and Borodin and subsequently Skuratov, an honest and competent lawyer, was shunted aside, in spite of three almost unanimous resolutions in his support from the Russian Senate. The end of Skuratov was also the end of the Moscow Mabetex case - the proceedings were finally abandoned in December 2000.
Elsässer: Was del Ponte acting to protect the Albanian Mafia or the Yeltsin clan?
Turover: Neither. She acts only in her own interest. She is indifferent to political goals. Look at the point in time when she made public what she knew about the Mabetex case, including my name - the end of August 1999. That was a blow not only to me, but to Yeltsin too.
It's true that she later failed to follow through on the case, but at that moment her revelations did serious damage to Yeltsin. The immediate background was the spectacular coup by Russian elite units in Kosovo in summer 1999; after the ceasefire they occupied Pristina airport, getting there before NATO. According to the British head of KFOR, Michael Jackson, this could have led to world war three. Moscow was playing for high stakes. It wanted its own occupation zone in Kosovo to protect the Serbs. In this situation Yeltsin had to be repudiated. The current US Foreign Minister, Madeleine Albright, therefore met del Ponte at London Heathrow airport in July 1999 and probably spelt all this out to her. So then del Ponte went public with her revelations about Yeltsin in Corriere della Sera and in mid-September Albright in a statement on CNN stoked up the heat about Russian government corruption. Yeltsin had to fear an effort to impeach him and then prosecution. He was let off the hook by two bombings in Moscow, allegedly by Chechen terrorists. Russian troops went into Chechnya and public attention was diverted from Russiagate.
Elsässer: Was del Ponte acting as an agent of Washington in this situation?
Turover: She is no more pro-American than she is pro-Albanian. She acts in Swiss interests, i.e. in the interests of the Mafia in Switzerland.
Turover: Switzerland and the Swiss banks live mainly off money laundering. All the world's dictators and major criminals deposit their money here. Above all the canton of Tessin is exceptionally well placed for this. People simply carry millions in suitcases and glove compartments over the border from Italy. Every politician in Tessin knows about it and benefits from it. And as the canton's public prosecutor del Ponte protected this activity even before the Mabetex case at the end of the 1990s. Take the case of a company in Chiasso accused of money laundering for the Italian Mafia. She stopped the proceedings. But basically del Ponte is pro-del Ponte. She would do anything for her career, even bring a case against George W. Bush. She is in any case a useless lawyer. To my knowledge she has never won a case in her entire career. Her only talent is self-promotion, self-marketing.
Elsässer: Her agreement with Albright in any case proved profitable. A little later she became the Chief Prosecutor at the Hague, at Washington's behest. The Zurich Weltwoche expressed surprise: "why the Americans wanted her to succeed the difficult and prematurely ousted Louise Arbour remains a puzzle. After all they had made no secret of the fact that they regarded the Court as a useless waste of time".
Turover: Del Ponte and the Swiss government helped Albright and the Americans - they're honest people, they pay their bills - therefore rewarded her with the Hague job. Here too she has sold herself brilliantly. With her, the trial is a total disaster. She has nothing on Milosevic, and legally he ought therefore to be released immediately. And so Milosevic, who himself is nothing but a bandit and con man, can present himself as an innocent victim of persecution and Serb nationalism is on the rise as the recent elections showed. Do people in the Hague really not know that the Swiss Federal Government has appointed a special investigator to look into the del Ponte affair? How can a woman who is herself the subject of judicial investigation at the highest level because of serious crimes stay on as Chief Prosecutor at the UN war crimes tribunal?
Elsässer: In March 2001 you reported Carla del Ponte and persons unknown to the police for, among other things, endangering your life and attempted murder (tentato assassinio) in connection with Russiagate. But the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, Valentin Roschacher, dismissed the charges against his predecessor. So how can you say that a special investigation of del Ponte is ongoing?
Turover: Roschacher protected del Ponte and I have therefore brought a case against him for bias in her favour. This case has not only been taken up, but in May 2002 the Swiss Federal Council appointed a special investigator, Arthur Hublard, the former public prosecutor of Jura canton. He is investigating my accusations against Roschacher - but the del Ponte case is obviously also involved here. Furthermore, I have laid charges against Switzerland at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Elsässer: Against Switzerland, not against del Ponte?
Turover: You can't bring cases against private persons in Strasbourg. But in substance the charges relate primarily to del Ponte because as the Swiss Federal Prosecutor she placed my life in danger. It's preposterous for her to continue to hold office in the Hague when two such cases are pending.
Elsässer: You are living in hiding, constantly moving house. How long will you keep this up?
Turover: I have
to, otherwise I'm dead because of del Ponte. I have of course insured
myself by making sure that in the event of my demise even more explosive
information than hitherto will be revealed. But that does not provide me
with real security. So far at least five prosecution witnesses in the
Mabetex case have been cleared out of the way. The most recent victim was
Pacolli's personal secretary, a 32-year old woman, who was found dead in
the bathroom, allegedly from a blood clot. There was no autopsy and she
was cremated the next day.
 Obviously, these disparaging remarks about Mr Milosevic do not represent the views of the ICDSM or this website. The reason why Carla del Ponte has got nothing on Mr Milosevic is that the charges against him have no basis in reality. However incompetent del Ponte may be, she has had a multitude of "experts", investigators and compliant officials within and outside Yugoslavia to help her in her quest for "evidence". They have found nothing because there was never anything there to find.