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BAD MAN OF THE MILLENIUM

April 30, 2006 Comments off
Slobodan Miloševic – Bad man of the millenium

Author: Marko Attila Hoare

Comment on Milosevic following his death in prison, written for the Open Democracy website by the author of How Bosnia Armed

Srebrenica Genocide: In July 1995, Slobodan Milosevic forces massacred over 8,000 Bosniaks in so called UN Safe Heaven Zone of Srebrenica.Slobodan Milošević represented the last gasp of a discredited type of politics, but he was also the harbinger of a new one – not just in the former Communist East, but also in the West. His policies ensured that Communist dictatorship would not go peacefully to its grave in Yugoslavia, as it had in most of Eastern Europe, but would instead create a spectacular conflagration, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of innocent victims before burning itself out in total defeat. Yet despite this record, or perhaps in some sense because of it, Milošević’s cause became the cause of all those across Europe and the world – conservatives of the left and conservatives of the right – for whom the idea of progress under liberal capitalism was and remains anathema.

Milošević deliberately promoted the break-up of Yugoslavia and the independence of Croatia and Slovenia; he championed free-market reforms; he struggled to build good relations with the West, even supporting the US in the 1991 Gulf conflict; he waged wars against sovereign independent states without a mandate from the UN Security Council; and he initially endorsed the activities of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Western alliance was very slow to confront him, treating him more as a partner and collaborator than as an enemy, right up until the late 1990s. As an anti-imperialist, Milošević was no more successful, and was considerably less sincere, than he was as a Great Serbian nationalist. Yet it is not the real historical figure, rather the myth of Milošević, that has made him a hero to so many of those opposed to the ‘new world order’: he was the conservative’s Communist; the Communist’s champion of free-market reform; the peacenik’s warmonger; the UN-worshipper’s defier of international law. In sum, a paradoxical poster-boy for an anti-modern coalition comprised of opposites.

The real Milošević – as opposed to the myth created by his Western admirers – cannot be understood without reference to the long-term Serbian and Yugoslav historical context. Milošević was the leader of a secessionist Serbian rebellion against a Titoist Yugoslavia that had kept Serbia in check. Josip Broz Tito’s Communist-led Partisans, who fought against the Nazi occupiers of Yugoslavia, founded their federal Yugoslav state on the ruins of the Third Reich – but also on the ruins of Great Serbian nationalism. The Partisans were essentially a west-Yugoslav movement whose strongest wing was in Croatia: its leader, Tito, was a Croat, and the Communist Party of Croatia mobilised more Partisans than any other section of the Yugoslav Communist organisation. The most important source of Partisan manpower was the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia – but they fought under the banners of a free Croatia and a free Bosnia within a Yugoslav union of equals, and against the goal of a Great Serbia that was being championed by the Partisans’ anti-Communist rivals – the royalist Chetniks. The latter’s bastion was in Serbia. It was only with massive Soviet assistance that the Partisans were able to conquer Serbia and defeat the Chetniks, and in doing so, the Partisans cut Serbia down to size: countries considered by many Serbs to be ‘Serb lands’ – Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro – were established as republics in their own right, while Vojvodina and Kosovo were made autonomous entities within Serbia. From the 1960s, Tito’s regime moved Yugoslavia further from the centralist constitutional model that Serb politicians had traditionally favoured, toward a semi-confederacy in which not just the republics, but the autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo, increasingly behaved like sovereign entities outside the control of Belgrade. It was this ‘anti-Serb’ constitutional order that Milošević set out to destroy.

Milošević was a creature of the Titoist Communist system who rebelled against the system. He pursued an independent Serbian political line that was at variance with the wishes of other Yugoslavs, tearing apart the fragile Titoist system that depended upon consensus and compromise for its functioning; he undermined and destroyed federal institutions; and from mid-1990 he pursued the policy of expelling Croatia and Slovenia from Yugoslavia. The new Serbian constitution promulgated by Milošević in 1990s declared the ‘independence’ of Serbia and its right to pursue its own international relations; in March 1991, Milošević effectively seceded from Yugoslavia, declaring Serbia would no longer respect the authority of the Yugoslav Presidency; in May 1991, Milošević decapitated Yugoslavia, by blocking the election of Croatia’s Stipe Mesic as Yugoslav president, thereby leaving the country without a functioning executive. Yet all this was done in the name of defending ‘Yugoslavia’. In attempting to carve out new Serbian borders, Milošević attempted to merge Titoism with Great Serbian nationalism, by establishing a ‘new Yugoslavia’ that would be composed entirely of Serb and Montenegrin entities as defined by Milošević’s ‘socialist’ ideologue Mihailo Marković in October 1991, this meant Serbia, Montenegro and an additional Serb unit made up of ‘Serb’ lands conquered from Croatia and Bosnia – Titoist and Yugoslav in form but Great Serbian in content.

In seeking to reconcile these irreconcilables, Milošević fell between two stools, for the young people of Serbia were unwilling to fight and die for such confused goals, in a ‘Yugoslav’ army that was neither genuinely Yugoslav, nor pursuing real, open Serb-national goals. Wracked with desertion, the military forces of Serbia and the Yugoslav People’s Army were rescued from defeat in Croatia only by Western diplomacy – not for the last time, the ‘anti-imperialist’ side was saved by the ‘imperialists’. In Bosnia, Milošević’s Bosnian Serb satellites pursued an equally contradictory goal – seeking to conquer Bosnia and secede from it at the same time. The Serb genocide of Bosnian Muslims and Croats provoked a powerful Bosnian resistance, while the dirty character of the war waged by the Serbs, and the confusion over their goals and their borders, again ensured a Serb defeat.

Despite the readiness of John Major’s British Conservative government, François Mitterrand’s French Socialist regime and Bill Clinton’s vacillating Democratic administration, to collude in Milošević’s aggression and genocide, the world-wide revulsion caused by the latter eventually mobilised a powerful global counter-current uniting principled opinion from across the political spectrum. The Srebrenica massacre marked the turning point in Western policy, which gradually shifted. NATO attacked Bosnian Serb forces in 1995; Clinton then rescued the Bosnian Serbs from defeat at the hands of the Bosnians and Croatians, forcing the latter to abandon their victorious advance, and followed this up with the ambiguous Dayton Accord, which recognised the Bosnian Serb statelet created by genocide, but nevertheless buried forever the possibility of a Great Serbia. Milošević was Clinton’s ally at Dayton, even pledging Serb cooperation with the ICTY. But the tide had turned, and when Milošević attempted a third round of ethnic-cleansing, in Kosovo in the late 1990s, the Western alliance partially redeemed its earlier disgrace, and this time took resolute action to stop him.

The movement in opposition to the Kosovo War in the West marked the scraping of the bottom of the ‘anti-imperialist’ barrel, with its selective opposition to war (it did not oppose Milošević’s), selective support for national sovereignty (it did not uphold Bosnia’s or Kosovo’s) and selective respect for UN resolutions (it did not support those directed against Milošević). This was a precursor to the equally unprincipled stance of part of the ‘anti-war’ movement over Iraq – involving support for Arab dictators, Iraqi Sunni sectarian murderers and Islamic fundamentalist fascists. Milošević – the phoney socialist, phoney anti-imperialist and phoney champion of national sovereignty – remains an appropriate hero to all those for whom opposition to ‘Bush and Blair’ is so absolute as to override all principles – such as democracy, anti-fascism, human rights, gender equality and national self-determination – that might once have been unquestionable for all politically honourable people. Milošević personifies the link between the Communist dictatorships of the twentieth century and the anti-American left of the twenty-first.

The author is a senior research fellow at Kingston University. His How Bosnia Armed was published by Saqi in 2004, while Genocide and Resistance in Hitler’s Bosnia: the Partisans and the Chetniks will be published by OUP in September 2006.

LESSONS FROM THE MILOSEVIC TRIAL

April 26, 2006 1 comment

LESSONS FROM THE MILOSEVIC TRIAL

By Gwynn Mac Carrick

Bosniak (Muslim) Civilian in Serb-run Concentration Camp Trnopolje

The long-running trial of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague, complete with courtroom drama, demonstrated the many pitfalls entailed in trying deposed leaders in a court of law. In the wake of the which ended with his death before judgment prosecution of the Serbian leader, it is timely to decide what lessons, if any, can be drawn from this trial, which might have application for the proceedings against former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, in Baghdad, and other high profile defendants in the future.
Inevitably, former world leaders indicted for international crimes will not go quietly. These chief defendants drag out their cases, disparage witnesses, interject, follow nuisances of exchange, mock the court, evade and prevaricate.
It is of primary importance then, that the prosecution has a coherent prosecutorial strategy. What Milosevic’s trial has taught us is that the simpler the strategy the better. That is, by reducing the complexity of the indictment and limiting the objectives of the trial to achievable goals, the Office of the Prosecutor enhances the prospect of a final judicial outcome in the lifetime of the defendant.
Second, if the court and the international community at large are to separate facts from theatrics and prevent the court from being used as a venue for staging extrinsic and irrelevant political issues, there is a need to put in place a strategy for reducing the melodramatics of the courtroom proceedings.
Milosevic, 64, was charged with 66 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity spanning the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and the 1998-99 Serb crackdown in Kosovo. He denied the charges and died in custody before a verdict was delivered. Notwithstanding the voluminous amount of evidence presented, compiled in hundreds of thousands of documents and exhibits in his case, and the adducing of countless hours of witness testimony over the course of a four-year period, the net result was nil.
This was avoidable, given that the trial chamber judges, who became frustrated with the pace of the proceedings, urged the prosecutors to trim the indictment list to a manageable number of the strongest claims. However the prosecutors refused, on the basis that shortening the indictments would result in disrespecting the victims and ignore realities. Instead the prosecution offered an extensive amount of exhibits and an archive of eyewitness accounts, photographs and videos relating to the slaughter of an estimated 8,000 [Bosniak] Muslim men and boys in July 1995 in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica and the relentless shelling of Sarajevo.
The Milosevic trial dragged on for over four years, with testimony from hundreds of witnesses and thousands of documents admitted into evidence, in an effort to present a comprehensive account of the historical events, rather than simply focusing on the elements of the crime.

This is where the international criminal prosecutions of major defendants are getting it wrong. Trials have become an attempt to reconstruct history rather that a strictly legal process. Prosecutions are approached from the viewpoint that the testimony of witnesses is a cathartic exercise, which marks the vindication of victims and the start of national healing. This is too ambitious. The court should be reserved for testing the strictly legal and factual issues.

In reality Milosevic’s trial dealt with a mega-case, which involved atrocities committed over a decade in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. The court proceedings concluded at Milosevic’s death, with no judgment. The former Yugoslav president had eluded the criminal process.
The length and complexity of the Milosevic trial helped convince Iraqi prosecutors that they needed to concentrate on a few key events rather than attempt to cover the full range of alleged atrocities during Hussein’s 24-year rule. To avoid this evidentiary overload, the Iraqi tribunal decided to conduct a dozen mini-trials, the first case focusing on Saddam’s 1982 retaliatory attack on the town of Dujail and the torture and murder of 143 of its inhabitants.
Michael Schraf an eminent international lawyer who helped train the five judges for the Saddam trial suggests, “One of the lessons of the Milosevic trial is that war crimes need to be streamlined and efficient”. He states, “The old adage ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ proved to be accurate in the case of Milosevic”.
“The Dujail case is serving as a test cast, a judicial laboratory, for the judges to get used to the novel rules and procedures,” says Scharf. “Most importantly, they have learned how to balance the rights of the defendants and at the same time maintain control of the courtroom in the face of defence attempts to disrupt the proceedings.”
The Milosevic case was used as both an example and an illustration of what not to do during the Iraqi judges’ preparation. A major departure from the Milosevic trial is that Saddam is being tried on individual and specific charges rather than a broad case of crimes against humanity. This is a big lesson to draw. Schraf explains that in the Iraqi court each case stands on its own, at the end of which, there will be a judgment. The judgments of these mini- trials constitute “snapshots of evil”.
According to the daily Le Monde, the high court in Baghdad announced on April 4 that after the initial trial, a more significant trial would be held in which Saddam Hussein and six other defendants would be tried for crimes committed during the 1987 and 1988 anti-Kurd campaign in Al-Anfal, resulting in 100,000 to 200,000 victims. In this case, Saddam is indicted along with Ali Hassan Al-Majid, (known as “Chemical Ali”), on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, for the destruction of thousands of villages, the displacement of their residents and the gassing of the village of Halabja in March 1988, which resulted in 8,000 victims.
The hearing of these “snapshot of evil” indictments could last for years as new charges, including genocide are laid. The Iraqi authorities are keen for closure following former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic’s death before he faced a verdict on war crimes and also conscious not to “bite off more than they can chew”.
Attempting to try the ousted leader for genocide against Kurds will almost certainly mean that these criminal matters will take years to resolve. However, by drafting a series of disciplined indictments that focus on specific events the trials are self-contained.
Some observers have cautioned against haste. The former chief of the Iraqi Crimes against Humanity Unit, Tom Parker, says that in the context of Iraq it is more important for due process to be seen to be done than it is for a speedy trial. Parker favours procedural fairness over timeliness, on the basis that Saddam’s trial should constitute “an important building block in the construction of a credible Iraqi judicial system”. He added that, “a rushed trial could signal nothing had changed and justice in Iraq was still biddable to political expediency”.
Also speaking of the Iraqi court, Theodor Meron said it would have to guarantee the rights of its famous defendant to appear credible to the public, stating, “Any court dealing with atrocities has to pay particular respect to due process. There can be no cutting corners.”
It is a universal principle that any criminal jurisdiction, be it national or international, must extend to an accused person a system of justice that is both regular and fair. While not for a moment suggesting that there should be any diminution of the rights afforded the accused in major trials of this nature, it is important that the prosecutors do not hoist themselves on their own petard.
A trial of an individual cannot at the same time attempt to satisfy other external agenda, for instance, attempting to be a national catharsis, a medium for national healing, a comprehensive history lesson and a panacea for a failed justice system.
Unnecessarily broadening the trial objectives beyond the displacement of the burden of proof by the satisfaction of requisite elements sets the bar for the prosecution at an impossibly high level, thereby playing into the hands of former dictators, who are masters at manipulation and astutely aware of the theatrical effect of behaving badly.
If the prosecution stakes out the righteous high ground, then the defence will inevitably seek to show that the prosecutor represents an interested party rather than a mere officer of the court. The contest is then about personalities, as opposed to the merits of the matter. If the trial simply deals with the merits in a value neutral manner, then it will avoid the trial becoming a showdown between morality versus hypocrisy.
Some commentators have suggested that one of the greatest obstacles for prosecutors in the trials of former dictators is the sheer force of their personality on trial. Milosevic, for instance, acted in his own defence, with a staff of Serbian lawyers and researchers collecting material and conducting investigations on his behalf. He also had two court-appointed attorneys who intervened in procedural matters. This permitted him to have counsel, but also be disruptive himself.
Many critics and courtroom observers say Milosevic was the main reason his trial lasted so long. Early in the trial Milosevic was known for courtroom speeches and temperamental outbursts, following every nuance of exchange and frequently interjecting complaints or questions, even correcting courtroom interpreters. Milosevic disparaged the tribunal in court, threatened and insulted witnesses and tried to make the trial about the US and British military action against Serbia.
He logged a succession of sick days on doctors’ recommendation, resulting in the court sessions being reduced to three days a week to reduce his stress and hypertension.

The lessons of Milosevic’s prolonged trial were uppermost in the minds of those establishing the criminal tribunal for Iraq, now underway in Baghdad. Methods for keeping the trial short, fair and under control were the primary concerns.
Keeping order in these politically charged cases have proved a big issue. In an effort to circumvent this problem of self-representation, last August the Iraqi National Assembly enacted revised rules for the tribunal. Under the rules, Saddam had to be represented by legal counsel, in order to prevent him from using the court as a political forum to attack the US and the new Iraqi Government.
In keeping with Iraqi legal tradition, however, the judges have allowed Saddam to question witnesses. This has given Saddam a platform to disparage and prevaricate. So far, according to observers, the trial of Saddam Hussein has been characterised by chaos, with the bench often struggling to maintain order. The defence lawyers walked out, prompting their dismissal and an order by the court to continue the trial with court-appointed public defenders. In protest, Saddam and his co-defendants have refused to return to court, thereby requiring the court to make a case to the public, clearly explaining the ruling.
From the initial proceedings it is evident that the Iraqi tribunal will have teething issues, but whether any lessons have been learned from The Hague experience remains to be seen.
Undoubtedly, the trials of leaders such as Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein will be followed shortly by the trial of other similarly situated deposed leaders. This week the UN Security Council may ask the Netherlands to host the special court for Sierra Leone, established four years ago in Freetown, so that it can try its most important defendant, former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was incarcerated on March 29. In this case it would appear that the relocation of Taylor to The Hague is a prosecutorial strategy aimed at security and to avoid the pitfalls of in situ prosecution.
Similarly, the lessons learned from the trial of Milosevic have application elsewhere. For instance, if the international community is to avoid the same outcome in Cambodia as the Milosevic trial, it will need to ensure the prompt establishment of a trial chamber to begin hearing matters as a matter of priority. Presently the Cambodian Government is delaying setting up the extraordinary chambers to try ex-Khmer Rouge leaders, adopting a strategy that increases the likelihood of these leaders dying before they come to trial.
It is imperative that we learn the lessons. Trying former world leaders is always going to test any criminal system, but the Milosevic precedent tells us that the prosecution can get smarter and more efficient about how they conduct proceedings, primarily by simplifying their prosecutorial strategy. Ambitious drafting is counter-productive and zealous posturing with respect to what these trials will achieve on a grand scale, will be met predictably by distain and counterclaim from the defence.
If we have learned anything from Milosevic’s trial it is “keep it simple” and “keep it free from posturing” by both parties to the proceedings. This way the international criminal process can ensure the pronouncement of timely and disinterested judgment from legal institutions which are, to the extent possible, freed from their political context.

THE MILOSEVIC ACCOUNT

April 26, 2006 Comments off

The Milosevic Account

Author: Eric Gordy

If no governing authority judges Milosevic’s life and rule, those who depended on his power will dream of his vindication and their return to power, writes the author of ‘The Culture of Power in Serbia: nationalism and the destruction of alternatives’ (1999) on the Open Democracy website
Slobodan Milosevic was a challenge to justice from the beginning, but he was always good for criminals. In death as in life.
He passed away later than many people would have hoped, but too early to allow the tribunal to reach a verdict on the charges filed against him, for gross violations of international humanitarian law. Inevitably, the conditions of his passing damage the tribunal: why did the prosecutors supplement their charges with historical claims that no legal institution could hope to adjudicate? Why was he permitted to conduct an inept self-defence that dragged out over several years? How was he given access to debilitating drugs which counteracted his prescribed treatment and, intentionally or not, facilitated his death?
It is a pattern familiar to people who observed him in power and out over the years. Beginning by saying one thing and doing another, he built a record of distancing himself from his own actions, from the actions of people he abetted, from the results of his engagement, and when he had nothing left, from himself. When he claimed in his final letter to have been defending his country, he was continuing a long habit of transferring responsibility for his own behaviour to other people and to the whole society.
But no regime can sustain itself without accomplices, and nobody is willing to become an accomplice unless somebody benefits. Milosevic may have demolished the Serbian middle class and put the working class out of work, but he has left one lasting legacy: a new criminal class that owes its position entirely to him. To see who they are, pay attention to who shows up for his funeral in Pozarevac on 18 March. The vast majority of Serbs will skip it.
A memorial was published in the newspapers Blic and Vecernje novosti on 14 March, signed by thirty-four of Milosevic’s fellow detainees in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) holding facility in Scheveningen. They saluted the memory of their “fellow fighter” in The Hague. Shortly thereafter, detainees began making demands of the prison authorities. They want the United Nations Security Council to appoint a special commission to investigate their living conditions.
Milan Martic, the former low-ranking police officer who became president of the “Republic of Serbian Krajina” and sent missiles into the centre of Zagreb before fleeing ahead of the people who were soon to made refugees, lamented: “I am sick. I demand to be seen by a doctor and for my diet to be managed.” These are people who have a good deal in common even if they do not share the same nationality – above all, they have in common the expectation that their comfort will be looked after by people for whom they care not a bit.
And what of the people who saw to their comfort? The daily paper Blic ran a feature on 14 March with reactions from people whose lives were touched by Milosevic.
Ivica Lazovic, who was shot in the head by a Milosevic supporter during a catastrophic attempt to disrupt the massive antiregime demonstrations in 1996, contrasts his fate with the life of the man who died in custody: “I am at peace with honest people and with God, and as always, an enemy of malicious people, bandits and thieves. I sleep peacefully.”
Dusan Vukovic, who demonstratively refused to accept from Milosevic a posthumous military medal for his son who was killed in the Kosovo conflict, notes that Milosevic “died very pleasantly considering all he did.”
Now will come a controversy, well justified, regarding the kind of medical attention Milosevic received and the source of the rifampicin that may have brought on his fatal heart attack. It will be impossible for the managers of the ICTY detention facility to escape some blame for his fate – even in the best case, they are at least guilty of negligence. The inevitable scandal will, once again, draw attention away from the character of Milosevic’s rule.
Nobody will compare the medical attention he received to the care shown to Ivan Stambolic, Slavko Ćuruvija, the people kidnapped off a train and massacred in Strpci, the people kidnapped off a bus and massacred in Sjeverin, the people shot with their hands bound behind their backs in Srebrenica, the people whose bodies were dumped into the river near Tekija, the people whose bodies were moved to a secret mass grave in Batajnica, and whose bodies were incinerated at Mackatica.
The sleep of reason creates monsters. If no governing authority offers a serious account of the balance of Milosevic’s life, the people whose social prominence depended on his rule will. The criminals he cultivated may well return to power, the members of his family may return to public life, and his memory may begin to be venerated, both by people whose lives he destroyed and by outsiders who imagine him to have been a warrior against imperialism. If he were alive, Milosevic would appreciate the irony.
Eric Gordy is associate professor of sociology at Clark University, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Culture of Power in Serbia: nationalism and the destruction of alternatives, Penn State University Press, 1999. This comment was posted on the Open Democracy website at http://www.opendemocracy.net on 17 March 2006.

BOSNIAN PYRAMID OF THE SUN

April 23, 2006 2 comments

BOSNIA: EXCAVATIONS OF EUROPE’S FIRST PYRAMID


Researchers on Wednesday unearthed geometrically cut stone slabs that they said could form part of the sloping surface of what they believe is an ancient pyramid lying beneath a huge hill.

Archaeologists and other experts began digging at this central Bosnian town last week to explore the team leader’s theory that the 2,120-foot hill covers a step pyramid, which would be the first ever found in Europe. “These are the first uncovered walls of the pyramid,” Semir Osmanagic, a Bosnian archaeologist who studied the pyramids of Latin America for 15 years, said of the stonework found Wednesday.
“We can see the surface is perfectly flat. This is the crucial material proof that we are talking pyramids,” he said.
Osmanagic believes the structure will prove to be 722 feet high, or a third taller than Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza.

The huge stone blocks discovered Wednesday appeared to be cut in cubes and polished.

“It is so obvious that the top of the blocks, the surface is man-made,” Osmanagic said.
Earlier research on the hill, known as Visocica, found that it has 45-degree slopes pointing toward the cardinal points and a flat top. Under layers of dirt, workers discovered a paved entrance plateau, entrances to tunnels and large stone blocks. Satellite photographs and thermal imaging revealed two other, smaller pyramid-shaped hills in the Visoko Valley.
Last week’s excavations began with a team of rescue workers from a nearby coal mine being sent into a tunnel believed to be part of an underground network connecting the three pyramid-shaped hills. They were followed by archeologists, geologists and other experts who emerged from the tunnel later to declare that it was certainly man-made.

The work at Visoko, about 20 miles northwest of Sarajevo, will continue for about six months. Two experts from Egypt are due to join the team in mid-May.
“It will be a very exciting archaeological spring and summer,” Osmanagic said.


More info:
1. http://www.piramidasunca.ba
2. http://piramida.blogger.ba

SERBIAN MEDIA FUELS DISINFORMATION

April 22, 2006 1 comment

Prosecution Dismisses Stanisic and Simatovic Speculation

Prosecution spokesman Anton Nikiforov has spoken out against suggestions in the Serbian media that two former members of the Serbian State Security Service, DB, Franko Simatovic and Jovica Stanisic, have been acquitted of charges relating the Srebrenica massacre.

At a routine tribunal press conference on April 19, Nikiforov underlined that the source of the speculation, a decision issued a week earlier by the judges overseeing the case, in fact only concerned clarifications to the indictment against the two men.

The charge sheet against Simatovic and Stanisic includes several paragraphs detailing the murders of over 8,000 Bosniak prisoners from the town of Srebrenica in July 1995 and subsequent efforts to cover up the atrocity.

The judges wanted prosecutors to make it clear that as far as these crimes go, Simatovic and Stanisic are only charged on the basis of the murders of six particular prisoners from Srebrenica, whose executions were captured in a home video which was made public last year.

Those seen in the footage carrying out the murders were members of a paramilitary unit known as the Scorpions, which prosecutors say was subordinated to the DB at the time.

The judges emphasised that any links between this particular crime and a so-called joint criminal enterprise, including the massacre of thousands of other prisoners from Srebrenica, was “a matter for trial”.

They also asked prosecutors to make it clear that Simatovic and Stanisic were not charged with deporting or forcibly transferring people from Srebrenica.

RODNEY ATKINSON: MILOSEVIC APOLOGIST & SREBRENICA GENOCIDE DENIER

April 17, 2006 2 comments

REBUTTAL TO RODNEY ATKINSON’S CLAIMS

Updated 2nd time: April 18, 2006 (11:24 pm)

In his latest article titled “Lies and Myths About Milosevic and the Serbs” (note the title, he doesn’t even hide his one-sided leanings), Mr. Rodney Atkinson “a British opponent of globalization” and amateur ‘historian’ repeats old-school Serbian propaganda claims about Bosnian war and reduces himself to Srebrenica genocide denier. Since I am limited with my time and not really fond of Milosevic’s apologists, I will take a few moments to address some of the issues Mr. Atkinson raised in his factually wrong, overly one-sided and narrow-mindendly reasoned essay. As you will notice, the only elements missing to Mr. Atkinson’s claims are objectivity and credibility.

Let’s start with some of his claims about the trial of Slobodan Milosevic who recently literary poisoned himself with pills to avoid guilty verdict:

Milosevic would have been found guilty of war crimes.
In fact the trial and Milosevic’s detailed and penetrating challenge to prosecution witnesses had made a complete fool of the kangaroo court which had effectively kidnapped him in Belgrade (using the same anti-constitutional methods as the European Union did to destroy the sovereignty of the nation states of Europe – Presidential or Crown Prerogative!) Milosevic was not accused in the International Court in The Hague but by a “special Tribunal” set up by the anti Serb forces. Blair and his partners in the illegal war were indicted at the REAL International Court – but refused to turn up.

The evidence at the trial proved Milosevic’s guilt.
Far from that the Court was repeatedly unable to make any connection between Milosevic’s orders and the assumed “atrocities”. Indeed several Serb army personnel gave evidence that Belgrade had always insisted that soldiers who committed crimes should be brought to justice. The Court case also revealed that Lord Paddy Ashdown had lied to the Court and one of the Prosecution’s star witnesses exonerated Milosevic and said he had been tortured to make him provide evidence against the accused.

Mr. Atkinson calls the International Court “the kangaroo court” which “kidnapped” Milosevic in Belgrade and used “anti-constitutional methods” etc, etc, complete nonsense. Who can take this guy seriously? He claims the International Court was set up by “anti Serb forces”. Ridicoulous. He’s a complete nonsense. Milosevic was charged with 66 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity, and his chances of ending the trial as a “free man” were non-existent. The fact is that nobody was saddened more by Mr. Milosevic’s death, than his victims who wanted to see the justice served. Prosecution not only proved Milosevic’s guilt – it also proved that Serbia actively participated in the attack on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mr. Atkinson’s selective “claims” about who lied and who did not lie in the courtroom are nothing more but his personal ramblings and unqualified attempts of amateur ‘historian’ to become a judge with no legal background. Learn more:

1. How to Remember Milosevic: Last words (by: Mark Vlasic is a lawyer in Washington, D.C. He served on the Slobodan Milosevic and Srebrenica prosecution teams at The Hague and has taught at Georgetown University Law Center.)
2. Milosevic: A life in denial of truths (by: Roy Gutman – Pulitzer-winning journalist and eyewitness to genocide)
3. Too Early to Call Milosevic’s Trial a Failure (by: Lawrence Douglas)
4. Slobodan Milosevic as Hitler (by: Yuksel Soylemez)

5. You can find more resources by searching our blog.

Mr. Atkinson continues his ramblings by repeating outdated Serbian propaganda claims that I will gladly provide evidence against, quote:

What about the war time atrocities?
Most were myths, the rest questionable. The Sarajevo market bomb was not set by Serbs but by Bosnian Muslims, as the UN later confirmed. The skeletonic “concentration camp” victim was a hoax, as the BBC’s John Simpson confirmed.

First of all, the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia concluded that the side responsible for Sarajevo marketplace bombing was not Bosnian, but Serbian. Serb General Stanislav Galic was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for his role in terrorizing Sarajevo. The judge said that prosecutors proved beyond reasonable doubt 18 of the 26 sniping incidents they charged and all five of the shellings. That includes the 1994 Sarajevo marketplace shelling (markale market massacre) in which 68 people were killed and more than 100 injured. It has been a controversial incident, with many Bosnian Serbs saying Bosniaks shelled themselves to gain world sympathy and get the Bosnian-Serb army in trouble. But judges, who said they examined new evidence about the marketplace bombing, concluded that the mortar shell that caused the explosion was fired by the Bosnian Serbs. It also was the first time the court dealt with the charge of terror, as defined in the 1949 Geneva Convention. Learn more:

1. Serb Gen. Stanislav Galic guilty for terrorizing Sarajevo
2. International Tribunal: Serbs responsible for 1994 Sarajevo Markale Massacre
3. United Nations Report: Serbs Responsible for 1995 Sarajevo Markale Bombing
4. You can find more resources by searching our blog.

Secondly, the skeletonic concentration camp victim was not a ‘hoax’ as Mr. Atkinson alleges. The victim in question was Mr. Fikret Alic, Bosniak civilian from Prijedor area held in Serb-run concentration camp Trnopolje. Thomas Deichmann was engineer by training, not journalist. In his article titled “The picture that fooled the world” (LM, February 1997), Mr. Deichman claimed the photo of skeletonic Fikret Alic was a ‘hoax’. As a result, ITN station responded with and won a lawsuit against the LM magazine. You can read more about it here: Living Marxism magazine tried to fool the world with lies. Note that The Living Marxism magazine was launched in 1988 as an outlet for the Revolutionary Communist Party, a bizarre controversialist sect which split from the “International Socialists” in the 1970s. Soon the Revolutionary Communist Party was collapsed into Living Marxism, which, hovering between three different parent companies, later changed its name to LM.

Next, Mr. Atkinson alleges that:

The Srebrenica “massacre of 8,000 Muslims” [note the quotation marks] consists of some 2,000 bodies including Serbs who died in battle over a long period. Teenagers among the dead were commonplace especially among Croat and Bosnian army troops.

As a matter of the fact, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, so far, more than 6,000 bodies of Srebrenica genocide victims had been exhumed from primary and secondary mass graves around Srebrenica and are awaiting for DNA identification at Tuzla morgue. The DNA identification process is very slow and is expected to last for years, because Serbian army exhumed and re-buried most bodies in second mass graves in an attempt to hide the crimes (bones and skeletonal remains are mixed, thus making process of DNA identification more challenging). Here is a preliminary list of 8,100 Srebrenica victims, click here. Learn more:

1. Srebrenica Genocide Denial and Revisionism
2. Facts: 8,106 Bosniaks killed in Srebrenica Genocide
3. Srebrenica Investigation: Summary of Forensic Evidence – Execution Points and Mass Graves
4. Radislav Krstic Convicted of Srebrenica Genocide, Sentenced to 46 years
5. Srebrenica Massacre Questions and Answers
6. You can find more resources by searching our blog.

Mr. Atkinson continues his ridicoulous allegations by even more ridicoulous claims:

The “International Community” never describes the massacres of Serb villagers around Srebrenica before the Yugoslav army moved in, nor the evil Muslim Commander Naser Oric who, Roland Keith testifies, carried out those raids and showed journalists video tape of the beheadings he ordered. Oric withdrew his troops from Srebrenica before the Serbs arrived. His army was later caught and badly defeated – which explains the origins of the Bosnian bodies found.

First of all, Naser Oric was charged for not preventing killings of 12 Serbs (this is command, not individual responsibility) and plundering Serb villages for food. Compare that to 8,106 Bosniaks killed by the Bosnian Serb and Serbian forces. Beheadings of Serbs in Bosnia were nothing more but a convenient Serb propaganda; no beheading videos were introduced during Naser Oric’s trial. For Serbian beheading propaganda, read “He was Bosnian, not Serb soldier: Srebrenica massacre photo story“.

So how many Serbs died in Bosnia? In fact, less than 2,000 Serb civilians died in all of Bosnia (or 1,978 to be exact according to the latest data as of December 15, 2005 by The Research and Documentation Centre) – many of them from the Bosnian Serb shells hitting besieged government-controlled cities. It should also be noted that Naser Oric is not on trial for genocide, nor is he on trial for mass murder of Serb civilians.

During the Bosnian war (1992-1995), Srebrenica was under constant siege by Bosnian Serb millitary; no food or medical supplies were allowed into the enclave. Apart from never ending starvation, the civilian population of Srebrenica was subjected to constant Bosnian Serb artillery attacks. The only way to survive was to counter-attack surrounding Bosnian Serb villages (which served as Bosnian Serb military bases) and search for food and other supplies. In fact, long before Naser Oric counter-attacked Bosnian Serb forces around Srebrenica, close to 90% of Bosniak population of Eastern Bosnia was ethnically cleansed by Bosnian Serb and Serbian military forces. Here is a short excerpt from United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 53/35 that addresses issue of Naser Oric’s raids:

A third accusation leveled at the Bosniak defenders of Srebrenica is that they provoked the Serb offensive by attacking out of that safe area. Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. Dutchbat personnel on the ground at the time assessed that the few “raids” the Bosniaks mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organized in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them. The biggest attack the Bosniaks launched out of Srebrenica during the more than two years which is was designated a safe area appears to have been the raid on the village of Visnjica, on 26 June 1995, in which several houses were burned, up to four Serbs were killed and approximately 100 sheep were stolen. In contrast, the Serbs overran the enclave two weeks later, driving tens of thousands from their homes, and summarily executing thousands of men and boys. The Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina, while freeing their troops to fight in other parts of the country. The extent to which this pretext was accepted at face value by international actors and observers reflected the prism of “moral equivalency” through which the conflict in Bosnia was viewed by too many for too long.

I also recommend you to read the following United Nations conclusions:

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The Fall of Srebrenica – Role of Bosniak Forces on the Ground

Fifty-fourth session, Agenda item 42
The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina
15 November 1999, pages 103-104

Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 53/35

475. Criticisms have also been leveled at the Bosniaks in Srebrenica, among them that they did not fully demilitarize and that they did not do enough to defend the enclave. To a degree, these criticisms appear to be contradictory. Concerning the first criticism, it is right to note that the Bosnian Government had entered into demilitarization agreements with the Bosnian Serbs. They did this with the encouragement of the United Nations. While it is also true that the Bosnian fighters in Srebrenica did not fully demilitarize, they did demilitarize enough for UNPROFOR to issue a press release, on 21 April 1993, saying that the process had been a success. Specific instructions from United Nations Headquarters in New York stated that UNPROFOF should not be too zealous in searching for Bosniak weapons and, later, that the Serbs should withdraw their heavy weapons before the Bosniaks gave up their weapons. The Serbs never did withdraw their heavy weapons.

476. Concerning the accusation that the Bosniaks did not do enough to defend Srebrenica, military experts consulted in connection with this report were largely in agreement that the Bosniaks could not have defended Srebrenica for long in the face of a concerted attack supported by armour and artillery. The defenders were undisciplined, untrained, poorly armed, totally isolated force, lying prone in the crowded valley of Srebrenica. They were ill-equipped even to train themselves in the use of the few heavier weapons that had been smuggled to them by their authorities. After over three years of siege, the population was demoralized, afraid and often hungry. The only leader of stature was absent when the attack occurred. Surrounding them, controlling all the high ground, handsomely equipped with the heavy weapons and logistical train of the Yugoslav army, were the Bosnian Serbs. There was no contest.

477. Despite the odds against them, the Bosniaks requested UNPROFOR to return to them the weapons they had surrendered under the demilitarization agreements of 1993. They requested those weapons at the beginning of the Serb offensive, but the request was rejected by the UNPROFOR because, as one commander explained, “it was our responsibility to defend the enclave, not theirs.” Given the limited number and poor quality of Bosniak weapons held by UNPROFOR, it seems unlikely that releasing those weapons to the Bosniaks would have made a significant difference to the outcome of the battle; but the Bosniaks were under attack at that time, they wanted to resist with whatever means they could muster, and UNPROFOR denied them access to some of their own weapons. With the benefit of hindsight, this decision seems to be particularly ill-advised, given UNPROFOR’s own unwillingness consistently to advocate force as a means deterring attacks on the enclave.

478. Many have accused the Bosniak forces of withdrawing from the enclave as the Serb forces advanced on the day of its fall. However, it must be remembered that on the eve of the final Serb assault the Dutchbat commander urged the Bosniaks to withdraw from defensive positions south of Srebrenica town – the direction from which the Serbs were advancing. He did so because he believed that NATO aircraft would soon be launching widespread air strikes against the advancing Serbs.

479. A third accusation leveled at the Bosniak defenders of Srebrenica is that they provoked the Serb offensive by attacking out of that safe area. Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. Dutchbat personnel on the ground at the time assessed that the few “raids” the Bosniaks mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organized in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them. The biggest attack the Bosniaks launched out of Srebrenica during the more than two years which is was designated a safe area appears to have been the raid on the village of Visnjica, on 26 June 1995, in which several houses were burned, up to four Serbs were killed and approximately 100 sheep were stolen. In contrast, the Serbs overran the enclave two weeks later, driving tens of thousands from their homes, and summarily executing thousands of men and boys. The Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina, while freeing their troops to fight in other parts of the country. The extent to which this pretext was accepted at face value by international actors and observers reflected the prism of “moral equivalency” through which the conflict in Bosnia was viewed by too many for too long.

http://srebrenica-genocide.blogspot.com/2005/12/un-report-fall-of-srebrenica-role-of.html
http://srebrenica-genocide.blogspot.com/2006/03/srebrenica-massacre-five-basic.html

And lastly, Mr. Atkinson takes out of context President Izetbegovic’s words from Islamic Declaration (Izetbegovic’s book criticising Islamic governments): “There can be no peace or co-existence between the Islamic Faith and non Islamic institutions“. More than any other text, the Islamic Declaration is cited by Serbian nationalist propaganda as evidence of dangerous ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ in Europe which must be suppressed… or else. Often cited to justify persecution of the Bosnian Muslim civilian population during the former war, the Declaration and its author, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic (Party of Democratic Action), former president of Bosnia, have been demonized and frequently blamed for the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. One might explain these accusations as viscous political propaganda brought on by war. However, as early as 1983, Izetbegovic and his writings were the target of a virulent campaign against Islam in Communist Yugoslavia. This campaign had its contemporary roots in the early 1970’s when Bosniaks were allowed for the first time to declare themselves as a national group, but its deeper roots may lie in what Yugoslav scholar Bogdan Denitch calls “the pathological suspicion and hatred of Muslim Slavs.” Part II of the Declaration, “The Islamic Order,” explains how Muslim society should be reorganized based on Islamic principles. Parts of this section are often quoted out of context to prove that the Declaration advocates violence. It is crucial to note that Izetbegovic was speaking here of Islamic countries in which false modernist or conservative Islamic doctrines have been institutionalized in the political and social system. He was simply criticising Islamic governments and in many instances praised Western achievements. He was not speaking of Western countries or his native Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosnia is not even mentioned in the book). A close reading of the Declaration reveals that Izetbegovic was advocating a cultural, not a political revolution, especially in countries (like Yugoslavia) where Muslims were a minority.

NASER ORIC TRIAL ENDS – FAIRNESS QUESTIONED

April 14, 2006 5 comments

NASER ORIC TRIAL ENDS – WAS IT FAIR?

As the trial of Srebrenica wartime commander Naser Oric ended this week after 18 months, presiding judge Carmel Agius told a court in The Hague that she expects a judgement by the end of June.

“This has not been an easy case,” said Judge Agius.

Mr. Oric faces charges relating to his alleged responsibility for looting and wanton destruction of Serb property in villages around Srebrenica in 1992 and 1993, and for murders and abuse of 12 Serb prisoners held in the town’s prison during the same period.

In the six days set aside for closing arguments, prosecutors called for an 18-year sentence. The defence said he should be acquitted on all counts.

The prosecution has tried to prove that Mr. Oric controlled fighters said to have been personally responsible for the crimes in question. The defence has dismissed such claims, saying that at the time their client was a commander “only on paper”.

Mr. Oric also took the opportunity to briefly address the court at the end of closing arguments, saying, “I trust your honours, and I trust you will reach the right decision.”

Fairness of Mr. Oric’s Trial Questioned

There have been allegations that the tribunal has been biased against Mr. Oric.

A number of witnesses testified that Oric was aware of his impending indictment and told the commanders of SFOR in the Tuzla that he would surrender peacefully, but SFOR chose to arrest him forcefully in spite of this.

On July, 25 2003 the tribunal denied his appeal for a provisional release, even though it was clear he was no flight risk.

Many of the 52 witnesses that the prosecution called were members of the Bosnian Serb Army who participated in the seige and massacre of 8,100 Srebrenica Bosniaks and as such are untrustworthy.

The prosecution has also been accused of providing forged documents which three expert witnesess failed to authenticate, and has also been warned but not sancioned for witholding exculpatory evidence.

The judges at one point attempted to reduce the time that defence witnesses were allowed to testify, until an appeals chamber overturned this decision.

There is also outrage at the 18 year sentence that the prosecution has asked for.

Mr Oric is charged with failing to prevent and punish his subordinates for allegedlly killing 12 people.

Drazen Erdemovic, was a Serb soldier serving in Srebrenica and although he confessed to killing 70 people during the Srebrenica massacre he only received a 5 year sentance.