The chief judge of the United Nations war crimes tribunal has informed the U.N. Security Council the court will not be able to meet a 2008 deadline for completing its work.

Tribunal president Judge Theodor Meron, in a letter to the Council, said the court is working to the best of its ability but can not conclude its work until the arrest and trial of the top three fugitive suspects - Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Ante Gotovina. The three face charges for attacks on civilians during fighting in the 1990s in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.

Judge Meron cited the planned filing of seven new indictments, the slow process of trials, and hearings on transferring cases to local courts in the Balkans as factors extending the court's work.

The Security Council had set a 2008 deadline for the court to conclude trials and 2010 for appeals.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.