Српски националисти

The ICTY as a facilitator of reconciliation?

After a short discussion on a popular social networking site with someone interested in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), I decided to compile from those messages a summary of that exchange. The following examines the perception of the ICTY held by many in the Balkans, which should explain why this false Tribunal will never represent a force for reconciliation.

Is the ICTY a lawful institution?

To put it simply, courts and tribunals are set up by laws. Since the ICTY was set up by the Security Council, an executive body, it has no foundation to operate as it does today. For those interested in a studious examination of the nature and practices of the ICTY, I recommend John Laughlands book „Travesty“.

Has the ICTY helped reconcile, to an extent, the conflicting parties?

The Tribunal has only prolonged and entrenched the feelings of injustice with relation to the Balkan wars of the nineties, and has done seldom, if anything, to encourage reconciliation.

This is because of the very biased nature of the Office of the Prosecutor which has gone out of it’s way to pursue a very one sided agenda, the pinnacle of which are the indictments against President Radovan Karadzic while the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina was still raging, and the indictment of President Slobodan Milosevic during the NATO aggression (a war crime in itself) of 1999. In both cases the indictments were used as a tool of international pressure on the Serbian leadership to bring about compromise or in the case of 1999, capitulation.

Secondly, the Prosecutors work has by now (the process has finished) indicted 93 Serbs, 31 Croats, 14 Muslims, 8 Albanians and 3 Macedonians. A disproportion owing to the fact that all sides committed atrocities. The numbers are even more drastic when taking into account the number of convictions by the Tribunal and also by national courts in coordination with the ICTY: they are, respectively, 699, 36, 8, 3, 0 (as of 14/4/08).

Another screaming injustice is the fact that on the Serb side the entire political, police and military command structure has been indicted, including all of the presidents of the Serbian territories, all of the heads of police and military leadership as well as many lower ranking politicians. No other heads of state have been indicted, Alija Izetbegovic died in 2003. yet the Prosecution claims it was looking to indict him, absurd given that Karadzic was indicted a whole 8 years earlier for the same conflict region. A similar situation occurred with Franjo Tudjman, the Croatian president who oversaw the ethnic cleansing of more than 200,000 Serbs during operation „Storm“. Tudjman was in fact recorded on tape at one of his defence cabinet meetings as saying the Serbs should be thrown out of Croatia, in contrast the prosecution could find no such horrific statements by Milosevic yet they indicted him in 1999.

Even when it comes to the sentences imposed on Serbs by the Tribunal a massive disproportion can be observed compared to those handed out to the other factions. For example General Krstic of the VRS (army of Republic of Srpska), has been sentenced to more than 40 years in jail because „he should have known about the massacre in Srebrenica“ which soldiers under his area of command were committing,
yet the same Tribunal just a few months ago released as innocent Naser Oric, the Muslim commander in the region who was also by command responsible for his troups, which killed 3000 Serbs in the outlying villages around Srebrenica from 1992-95. He was released with the conclusion that „he was too young to have influence over the troops he was commanding“.

Many examples exist, these are just an illustration of the causes of underlying feelings of injustice which are perceived by the majority in Serbia and Serbs in all parts of the Balkans. Of course, similar arguments are made by the Croatian side as well, although looking at the statistics this is more likely to be a tactic of „offence as the best defence“ to get the best possible outcomes for those that have been indicted. Croats have been disproportionately accued in some cases where the Muslim faction was involved.

One might argue that these numbers represent simply the consequences of war crimes committed, and that going by this number it is obvious that the Serbs are more at fault than the others. But the mere fact is that Serbia proper didn’t „cleanse“ all, or any, of its Muslim or Croat populations, the Croats did do that (more than 200,000 Serbs forced out of Croatia during operation „Storm“ and „Flash“) . To those interested in the real story behing the war I recommend Diana Johnstone’s book: „Fool’s Crusade“.

With relation to the Kosovo conflict and the problems in that area today, the fact that the Tribunal recently released Ramus Haradinaj, a man who was suspected of killing civilians with his own hands, who was the responsible party in the chain of command for the crimes that did occur without doubt, someone so dangerous that 11 witnesses died before they could testify, only enforces the view that the ICTY is nothing more than a political tool.

What is the real role of the ICTY?

The ICTY is a tool of revisionism. It is a political tool which has been set in motion to rewrite the chain of events which led to the wars in the Balkans, and to justify the crimes of the West and their allies in the region. This makes it not only incapable of promoting reconciliation, but rather creates a source of fresh conflict, with one side in particular reeling from the battering of justice which has occurred, while the others carry on yearly celebrations of crimes feeling that they have been exonerated. This can never be a healthy way to resolve bloody conflicts.

What about Prof. Vojislav Seselj?

Vojislav Seselj was a Serbian opposition politician during the early and middle nineties, not in power for a single moment of the time of his indictment (1992-95). He has, as of this day, spent 2008 days in detention without conviction. The indictment against him is based on hate speech and incitement, a very shaky category at best (since incitement has a requirement of it being to commit genocide in international law).

When the indictment was raised, Seselj went voluntarily to the Tribunal straight away. Since then (2003) he has spent 4 years awaiting trial, was then refused the basic right to defend himself and went on hunger strike for 28 days at which point the trial was reset to the beginning with a new Trial Chamber chosen and his right to self-counsel restored.

His case is also a blatant example of the political aspect of the whole Tribunal, Carla del Ponte in her book wrote how the new „democratic“ regime in Serbia asked for Seselj, a strong opposition figure at that time (2002) to be „taken to the Hague“.

And now, 5 years on and with half the prosecution witnesses gone, the Prosecution are again trying to force an attorney that will represent prof. Seselj, fearing that the job he has done with the witnesses so far has not only exonerated him but also demolished many of the precedents set by the Tribunal, showing them to be farcical. This fresh attempt is just another example of the injustices being perpetrated by an institution created to serve justice.

What conclusions can we draw?

The fact that a selective justice at best, and blatant injustice at worst, is the result of the efforts of the ICTY there can be no good from any of the convictions there, be they to for one side or the other. The biased, revisionist and political nature of the Tribunal taints all of the convictions made by this institution, whether they be just or not. This is the real tragedy of this failed experiment.

25. августа 2008. | Ненад Вукићевић @ 17.46 | Leave a comment | English

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