Posts Tagged ‘Hague Tribunal’


July 25, 2009 Comments off

PHOTO: A forensic expert holds an old 100 German marks banknote found with remains of massacre victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in a mass grave near the village of Kamenica July 10, 2009.

In May 2009, we reported that the U.N.-backed International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) deliberately destroyed material recovered from mass graves of Srebrenica genocide (background). The destroyed material consisted of approximately 1000 pieces of identification, photographs and articles of clothing belonging to the victims found in the mass graves.

Now, local associations of Srebrenica genocide survivors plan to launch a lawsuit against the Office of the Prosecutor.

Hajra Catic – president of the NGO Women of Srebrenica (Žene Srebrenice) – told BIRN:

“They must have contacted the families of the people whose remains were found. They should not have destroyed the personal documents, because they could have been used as evidence in other trials.”

According to Amir Ahmić, the Bosnian liaison officer for the ICTY, “the destruction was done during the term of [former] chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. Nobody outside the tribunal knew about it. I personally consider that they should have informed the victims’ families prior to conducting some kind of a selection.”

HISTORY OF THE CONFLICT: Serbs from heavily militarized villages around Srebrenica had terrorized Srebrenica population and constantly attacked neighbouring Bosnian Muslim villages from 1992-1995. In July 1995 the Bosnian Serb army staged a brutal takeover of Srebrenica and its surrounding area, where they proceeded to perpetrate genocide. Bosnian Serb soldiers separated Bosniak families, forcibly expelled 25,000-30,000 people, summarily executed at least 8,372 boys, men, and elderly, and then dumped them into mass graves.

Read more by visiting BIRN:


July 7, 2009 Comments off
The Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB) recently published two confidential court decisions allowing Serbia to censor the most incriminating evidence showing Serbia’s direct involvement in the Srebrenica genocide.

The sensitive information included confidential orders by the court in the Slobodan Milosevic trial, not to publicise documents that implicate the Serbian state in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, in which at least 8,372 Bosniaks were summarily executed and 30,000 forcibly expelled in a mass scale ethnic cleansing.

1. ICTY SER 2005_0702100347_001 (351 kb / .pdf)
2. ICTY SER 2006_0702100337_001 (621 kb / .pdf)
According to the Bosnian Institute, “the ICTY had begun its own investigation into this leak. The letters asked all those who had received the allegedly protected documents to destroy them, and forbade their further copying and distribution.”

As CNAB noted in its letter to the ICTY, “The purpose of the secret agreement was clearly to hide the most relevant evidence which confirms the involvement of Serbia and Montenegro in organizing, planning and executing the aggression, war crimes, and genocide against the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Protective measures were authorized to Serbia and Montenegro in order to protect their national and state interests.”

According to Marlise Simons, “Serbia, the heir to Yugoslavia, obtained court permission to keep parts of the archives out of the public eye, citing national security. Its lawyers lacked out many sensitive – those who have seen them say incriminating – pages… Now, lawyers and others who were involved in Serbia’s bid for secrecy say that, at the time, Belgrade made its true objective clear: to keep the full military archives from another court, the International Court of Justice, nearby. And they say Belgrade’s goal was achieved in February, when that court, dealing with Bosnia’s lawsuit against Serbia, declared Serbia not guilty of genocide, and absolved it from paying potentially enormous war damages.” (Serbia’s Darkest Pages Hidden from Genocide Court)

Currently, a French journalist, Florence Hartmann is facing trial at the ICTY that employed her from 1999 until 2006 – as spokeswoman for the former chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte – on two counts of contempt of court for revealing details of the same two decisions in an article, Vital Genocide Documents Concealed, published on the website of the Bosnian Institute on January 21, 2008. We stand in support of Florence Hartmann.


June 28, 2009 Comments off

PHOTO: View of Sarajevo with newly built Avaz Twist Tower – the Balkan’s tallest residential building – located in Marijin Dvor business district.

The Trial Chamber in the case of Momčilo Perišić (case information sheet), former Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army (VJ), on Sunday 21 June 2009 began a seven-day site visit which will take them to Zagreb, Sarajevo and Srebrenica.

The visiting delegation consists of Judges Moloto (presiding), David and Picard from Trial Chamber I, as well as members of the Prosecution and Defence teams in the case and officials from the Tribunal’s Registry.

The Trial Chamber decided to conduct the site visit on its own accord. The Trial Chamber considered that it would be assisted to visit locations relevant to the case “in order to gain a better understanding of the facts at issue”.

Perišić is the most senior officer of the Yugoslav Army to go on trial for crimes committed during the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. He is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, inhumane acts and attacks on civilians committed between 1993 and 1995 in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Zagreb.

The Indictment alleges that Perišić provided significant personnel, material and logistical assistance to the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Army of Serbian Krajina (SVK) in Croatia. According to the Indictment, the provision and payment of VJ officers serving in the VRS and the SVK was done secretly to hide the involvement of the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia.

Perišić is charged with aiding and abetting the planning, preparation, or execution of a military campaign of shelling and sniping in civilian areas of Sarajevo between August 1993 and November 1995, which resulted in the killing and wounding of thousands of civilians. He is also charged with the shelling of civilian areas in the city of Zagreb in May 1995, resulting in the killing and wounding of a number of civilians.

He is further accused of aiding and abetting the crimes of extermination, murder and persecutions in Srebrenica between July and November 1995, where his subordinates serving in the VRS, including General Ratko Mladić, captured and executed several thousand Bosnian Muslim men and subsequently engaged in a comprehensive effort to conceal the killings by reburying bodies exhumed from the original mass graves.

The Indictment against Perišić was confirmed on 24 February 2005 and made public on 7 March 2005, when the accused was transferred into the Tribunal’s custody. The Prosecution filed the Second Amended Indictment on 5 February 2008. The trial began on 2 October 2008.


May 8, 2009 5 comments
The U.N.-backed International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has destroyed material recovered from mass graves of Srebrenica genocide. This was confirmed by chief prosecutor of the UN court Serge Brammertz on Thursday during a meeting with the organisation Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa. The destroyed material consisted of approximately 1000 pieces of identification, photographs and articles of clothing belonging to the victims found in the mass graves.

PHOTO: Victim’s belongings found inside of
Srebrenica genocide mass grave in Snagovo.

“This material was of enormous historical value,” says one former investigator, who asked not to be named because of his work with the tribunal. “This was the biggest act of killing in Europe since the Nazis. This was genocide. And for some of the families of the victims, this may have been all they had to mark their loss. This should be a scandal.”

According to BIRN, the Prosecution at the International War Crimes Tribunal has confirmed that it destroyed some materials discovered in the graves of murdered Srebrenica residents.

BIRN had earlier revealed that it had received some indications suggesting that the material, that may have provided evidence pertaining to their murder, was destroyed.

During a meeting Wednesday with representatives of the Association of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa, Serge Bremmertz, Chief Prosecutor from the Hague said that around 1000 materials found in mass graves with bodies of people killed after the fall of Srebrenica were destroyed due to a potential health hazard. Bremmertz said that the Prosecution has data about all those materials.

Muniba Subasic, president of the Association, told BIRN that Bremmertz explained that the destruction was not done during his mandate in the Hague, but that it was part of a regular procedure.

“We are strongly against that. Next month we will go to The Hague and meet with the ICTY president and some other people and tell them that we are unsatisfied because of this,” said Subasic.

She added that she was aware that Hague investigators did find some things in some of the mass graves, and that that material was taken away.

“It is usually like that, when people from the Hague are at exhumations, they take away everything they find. If an exhumation is done only by domestic people, they usually call members of families and they ask us what we want to be done with the things they find. That is how I found a cigarette box from my late husband. I took it and give to museum in Srebrenica,” added Subasic.

BIRN began to investigate the story after journalist Michael Montgomery (photo on the left) wrote about the case on his Blog, alleging that the destroyed material included a certain number of identification cards found in mass graves in which the killed Srebrenica residents were buried. Available unconfirmed data suggest that the personal identification cards were burnt at the Hague and their destruction was authorised by the Prosecutor’s Office at the Hague.

Montgomery’s sources claim that neither the Bosnian authorities nor the Srebrenica victims’ families have been informed of this.

“I have never heard of that. It is hard to believe in it,” Hajra Catic, who left Potocari after joining a convoy of other women in July 1995, told BIRN.

Catic says that most Srebrenica residents did not have their personal documents with them at the time.

“We simply did not think about that, considering all other things that were happening at the time,” Catic says.

Montgomery writes that three different sources had confirmed to him that the documents had been destroyed.

“This material was of enormous historical value,” one former investigator told Montgomery. “This was the biggest act of killing in Europe since the Nazis. This was genocide. And for some of the families of the victims, this may have been all they had to mark their loss. This should be a scandal.”

BIRN found out that the Prosecutor’s Office normally destroys some of the collected material after a certain period of time, unless the material has been admitted as evidence by the Court in the meantime.

In the course of the proceedings both the Prosecution and Defence teams propose their own evidence. The Trial Chambers then render decisions concerning the validity of the proposed evidence.


November 24, 2008 3 comments

INTRO: In July 1995, Serbian journalist Zoran Petrovic filmed the Srebrenica genocide unfolding, and then he attempted to cover up the evidence by cutting out and erasing important scenes. We invite you to read the following article and then watch the full documentary [Bosnia – Lost Images, 29 minutes, originally aired June 30th 2003].

Everyone remembers the harrowing footage of the Srebrenica massacre shot by Zoran Petrovic, the only cameraman to capture the events on film. But this week’s fascinating documentary shows that the very worst of his pictures never reached our TV screens. Key scenes from Petrovic’s rushes were ‘lost’ or blacked over, presumably to prevent reprisals. We unearth the lost images, and the completed jigsaw is even more heinous than the already blood-spattered picture. Amazingly, Petrovic has never been interviewed by the War Crimes Tribunal about what he saw. For the first time, his incriminating material is available for scrutiny.

Under the watch of Dutchbat soldiers, queues of Muslim men and women are separated by one of General Mladic’s men. They are familiar images, broadcast by TV stations around the world in the wake of the Srebrenica massacre. The War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague used Zoran Petrovic’s tape to secure several prosecutions for the massacres in the early 1990s and to investigate the involvement of Dutch peacekeepers Dutchbat.

But the footage shot by Petrovic appears to be incomplete. There is only one 60 minute tape for two days of filming, and throughout the rushes there are black gaps, cutting right through scenes and camera movements. Petrovic insists he was told to black over those sections by officious checkpoint guards on the roadside: “Everyone wants to be a smart guy. I was told – ‘Don’t film these guys. You erase this’”.

But Jean René Ruez, the man charged with analysing film evidence for the War Crimes Tribunal is adamant Petrovic is lying: “The cuts were done later. Sure”. Journalist John Block agrees. He was granted access to the rushes when they were first aired on Belgrade’s Studio 3 that same day – July 14th 1995. He insists he saw two tapes. He remembers clearly seeing unadulterated shots of piles of bodies – the material now missing from Petrovic’s sole remaining tape. When the BBC called Studio 3 the next day, the incriminating tape was gone, and the other tape was blacked.

A copy of a copy of a copy of the original Studio 3 documentary proves they are right. Although the quality of the footage is poor, there are no gaps. “This is of exceptional importance to the prosecutor” smiles Ruez. “They let you see what the witnesses are talking about. The recordings will help to furnish proof at a future trial of Mladic.”

Among other things – such as the use of German shepherd dogs to hunt Bosnian Muslims and the indiscriminate shelling of refugees – the previously missing pictures show the physical evidence of the Srebrenica massacre. Dead bodies are piled up at the Gravica warehouse. Shooting is clearly audible in the background.

The massacre has long been known about, but until now there has been little hard evidence. Only two survivors from over 1000 refugees seeking shelter in the warehouse survived to give testimony – the only witnesses to talk of a massacre. Both were Bosnian Muslims. “The witnesses are from warring factions” explains Ruez, “so you have to be careful what they say. This confirms the testimonies”.

Chief prosecutor at the War Crimes Tribunal Mark Harmon agrees: “It’s very important footage. Pictures do not lie. This is a very graphic image confirming the massacres took place. It’s important to enlighten the public in Srpska if there is going to be any kind of reconciliation”.

So far, the Yugoslavia Tribunal has never spoken to cameraman Zoran Petrovic. He still denies he was part of any cover-up operation and even offers our journalist a “last warning” when pressed. But these shocking new images had certainly been covered up by someone and their disappearance has hampered moves towards justice and reconciliation. Their discovery is a key step in helping bring Yugoslavia closer to closure.

Director: Gert Corba


Optional: If you wish to buy DVD quality of this documentary, you can do it from Journeyman Pictures here. It’s €24.50 including shipping and handling.


November 10, 2008 4 comments

The support is pouring for Florence Hartmann, the autor of the book “PAIX ET CHATIMENT” (Peace and Punishment) and former spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), who has been indicted by the Court on two counts of contempt because she allegedly revealed confidential information to the public concerning Serbia’s manipulation of evidence.

The following statement – by numerous human-rights organizations from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosova, Montenegro and Serbia – calls for Hartmann’s proceedings to be open to the public and demands from Serbia to supply the uncensored minutes of the Supreme Defence Council (VSO).

As our readers may recall, Serbia’s darkest pages were hidden from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). As a result, the ICJ cleared Serbia from direct responsibility for the Srebrenica genocide. At the same time, the Court found Serbia guilty of violating its obligation under the Genocide Convention to prevent Srebrenica genocide, and guilty of violating its obligations under the Convention by having failed fully to co-operate with the ICTY.

Full Statement
Concerning the trial of journalist Florence Hartmann conducted before the Hague Tribunal for the alleged publication of confidential Appeals Chamber decisions in the Slobodan Milosevic case, human rights organizations from the successor states to the former Yugoslavia would like draw attention to the fact that the content of these decisions was the subject of many press reports and public debates after the International Court of Justice delivered it judgment in February 2007 in the case of BiH versus Serbia on charges of genocide and it is not clear why Ms. Florence Hartmann has been singled out by the Hague judges.

In that period, human rights organizations in the entire region of the former Yugoslavia were openly discussing why the Hague Tribunal had not given the minutes of the Supreme Council of Defence of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the International Court of Justice and why the International Court of Justice had not demanded these documents from Serbia in the process of adjudicating the case of BiH versus Serbia. Human rights organizations extensively criticized the decision made by the Hague Tribunal to accept the request submitted by Serbia to conceal parts of the Supreme Council of Defence’s minutes as well as the decision of the International Court of Justice not to demand the aforementioned minutes from Serbia, explaining that they possessed enough documents to make a decision. Human rights organizations from Serbia demanded that the Government of Serbia reveal the minutes of the Supreme Council of Defence and remove existing doubts that it had concealed evidence concerning the state’s responsibility for the genocide committed in BiH. There is a serious suspicion that the Hague Tribunal, by its decision on protective measures applied to the minutes of the Supreme Council of Defence, as well as the International Court of Justice, by its indifference concerning the gathering of important evidence, protected Serbia from possible responsibility for participating in the genocide committed in Srebrenica.

Human rights organizations from the region of the former Yugoslavia call on Serbia to waive these protective measures and remove any doubt that the concealed parts of the Supreme Council of Defence’s minutes hide facts about the responsibility of Serbia in the commission of the genocide in Srebrenica. Human rights organizations also call on the Hague Tribunal to clarify its decision to accept the request of Serbia [to conceal the text] and remove doubts that such decisions of the Hague Tribunal are confidential solely to hide from the public the fact that it protected Serbia from responsibility for genocide committed in Srebrenica. In relation to this, the trial of Florence Hartmann should be public and accessible for monitoring by human rights organizations.

Signed by:

+ Action for Human Rights, Podgorica, Montenegro

+ Aleksandar Zeković, independent researcher on human-rights violations in Montenegro

+ Anima, Kotor, Montenegro

+ Association of Lawyers of Montenegro, Montenegro

+ Association for Women’s Human Rights – KODI, Pecs, Kosovo

+ Association for Peace and Reconciliation, Đakovica, Kosovo

+ Association of Women for Women, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

+ B.a.B.e. – Group for Women’s Rights, Zagreb, Croatia

+ Bureau for Human Rights, Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina

+ Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights, Osijek, Croatia

+ Centre for Education on Representation and Resources, Prishtina, Kosovo

+ Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture, Prishtina, Kosovo

+ Censorship – League for the Advancement of Media Freedoms, Split, Croatia

+ Citizens’ Action, Pančevo, Serbia

+ Citizens’ Committee for Human Rights, Zagreb, Croatia

+ Committee for Human Rights, Leskovac, Serbia

+ Documenta, Zagreb, Croatia

+ Eye of Vision, Pecs, Kosovo

+ Foundation for Humanitarian Law, Belgrade, Serbia

+ Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in RS, Bijeljina, Bosnia-Herzegovina

+ Helsinki Committe for Human Rights in Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia

+ Helsinki Citizens’ Committee, Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina

+ Integra, Prishtina, Kosovo

+ Kosova Partners. Prishtina, Kosovo

+ Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, Belgrade, Serbia

+ Montenegrin Women’s Lobby, Podgorica, Montenegro

+ Sandžak Committee for Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms, Novi Pazar, Serbia

+ Secure Women’s House, Podgorica, Montenegro

+ Women in Black, Belgrade, Serbia

+ Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Serbia

+ Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Montenegro

+ Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Kosovo

+ Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Bosnia-Herzegovina

More from Srebrenica Genocide Blog:

Serbia’s Darkest Pages Hidden from Genocide Court, read here.

Florence Hartmann Acted in the Interest of Justice and History, read here.

ICJ Finds Serbia Guilty of Not Preventing Srebrenica Genocide, read here.

ICJ Ruling Shows Governments Can Avoid Liability For Genocide, read here.

Prof. Martin Shaw Calls ICJ Ruling Perverse Judgment, read here.

Milosevic’s Death Saved Serbia from Genocide Responsibility, read here.

Politics and Justice Don’t Mix, ICJ’s Ruling in Bosnia vs Serbia Case, read here.

UN Chief Prosecutor Slams ICJ’s Srebrenica Genocide Ruling Response, read here.

Bosnian Serbs Were Under Control of Belgrade (Serbia, Yugoslavia), read here.

Open Letter by 54 Academics and Intellectuals Re ICJ Ruling, read here.

Serbia’s Censorship of Evidence and Serb Veto to Arrest Criminals, read here.


September 9, 2008 Comments off
On August 27th, Florence Hartmann – former official spokesperson for the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal – was indicted by the court on two counts of contempt. Ms Hartmann worked for eleven years for the French daily Le Monde, during the 1990s as its correspondent in the former Yugoslavia, and earned respect as one of the most distinguished journalists in Europe.
Ms Hartmann is a very brave woman. She stood up for victims’ rights and used her investigative skills to uncover the dirt that enabled Serbia to get away with genocide. The court alleges that Ms Hartmann revealed the information concerning the court’s decision in February 2007 to clear the Serbian government of genocide charges following the death of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

More specifically, in an article entitled “Vital genocide documents concealed“, published by the Bosnian Institute in the United Kingdom, Hartmann revealed that key documents proving that Serbia was ‘in control’ of the Bosnia Serbian Army at the time of the Srebrenica massacre were blacked out at the request of the Serbian government (see here). The 15 judges had not even seen the censored military archives.
The Trial Chamber ordered the prosecution of Florence Hartmann “for knowingly and willfully disclosing information in knowing violation of an order of a Chamber.” The Order states that, “Florence Hartmann knew that the information was confidential at the time disclosure was made, that the decisions from which the information was drawn were ordered to be filed confidentially, and that by her disclosure she was revealing confidential information to the public.” Ms Hartmann faces one charge of disclosing information in her book “Peace and Punishment” and another over an article published in January this year by the Bosnian Institute in the United Kingdom. The Order summons Ms Hartmann to appear before the Court on September 15, 2008.

Dr. Marko Attila Hoare, a renowned historian and one of the most respected scholars on the subject of Balkan history, recently voiced his displeasure with Ms Hartmann’s prosecution:

“I am myself a former official of the Tribunal, and my biggest criticism of it has been its failure to indict most of the principal Serbian and Montenegrin war-criminals, a failure that, on the basis of my eyewitness experience, I attribute in large part to the poor strategy of del Ponte as Chief Prosecutor. But a perhaps even more shameful failing on the Tribunal’s part was the one about which Florence writes: the decision of the judges in the Milosevic case to allow Serbia, when submitting to the Tribunal the minutes of the ‘Supreme Defence Council’ of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to censor parts of it in the version that was made public. As Florence argues, it was thanks to the Tribunal’s collusion with Serbia in the suppression of this crucial piece of evidence, that Bosnia was not able to draw upon the latter in its case against Serbia for genocide at the International Court of Justice, leading to Serbia’s unjustified acquittal.”

Ms Hartmann is the second journalist to be prosecuted by the Tribunal. On July 24, Kosovo journalist Mr Baton Haxhiu was convicted by the court for publishing details about a protected witness who testified at the trial of Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. Mr Haxhiu was fined €7,000. Ms Hartmann’s lawyer denounced the charges and said in a statement that they were motivated by non-legal concerns.”This decision is incredible,” lawyer William Bourdon said from Paris.

“Taking action against Ms. Hartmann means that all those who, legitimately, in the interest of the public and of history, wish to bear witness to their actions in the service of international penal justice will be muzzled,” he said.


March 5, 2008 8 comments
The Incompetence of Bosnia’s Legal Team Saved Serbia from Conviction on All Counts at the International Court of Justice

Update note, March 10, 2008: Thank you for your comments. I am moving excerpts of Owen’s comment (quoting the Judge Al-Khasawneh) on top:

“The ‘effective control’ test for attribution established in the Nicaragua case is not suitable to questions of State responsibility for international crimes committed with a common purpose. The ‘overall control’ test for attribution established in the Tadić case is more appropriate when the commission of international crimes is the common objective of the controlling State and the non-State actors. The Court’s refusal to infer genocidal intent from a consistent pattern of conduct in Bosnia and Herzegovina is inconsistent with the established jurisprudence of the ICTY. The FRY’s knowledge of the genocide set to unfold in Srebrenica is clearly established. The Court should have treated the Scorpions as a de jure organ of the FRY. The statement by the Serbian Council of Ministers in response to the massacre of Muslim men by the Scorpions amounted to an admission of responsibility. The Court failed to appreciate the definitional complexity of the crime of genocide and to assess the facts before it accordingly.”

Recently, Slobodan Kostic, a Serbian journalist from Belgrade, wrote an excellent article for IWPR titled How Belgrade Escaped Genocide Charge.

The article details some of the steps Serbia took to successfully block the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from disclosing extremely sensitive transcripts of meetings the Serbian Supreme Defence Council held between 1992 and 1995.

As Slobodan Kostic points out and we agree with him, quote:

“It is widely believed that the transcripts, which record the meetings of top officials, contain evidence of Belgrade’s direct involvement in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s.”

In a case of Bosnia vs Serbia, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Serbia liable for violating the obligation to prevent genocide, under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in respect of the genocide that occurred in Srebrenica in July 1995. The same Court found Serbia not to be directly liable for Srebrenica genocide and shifted responsibility for the Genocide to the Government of Republika Srpska (Serb-controlled portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina).

PHOTO CAPTION: Photos of the Srebrenica Genocide billboard in Belgrade vandalized with the message threatening a repeat of Srebrenica genocide: ‘There’s going to be a rerun’.

The question remains: If one day victims get their way and Serbia makes sensitive transcripts public, will the authenticity of these transcripts be compromised in the meantime? After all, Serbia had plenty of time to forge whatever documents they wished. What stops Serbia and Republika Srpska from forging military orders so they comply with Geneva Convention?

It is important to note – and most people don’t realize this fact – the Prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal proved an international armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina no less than five times, confirming Serbia’s direct involvement in a full blown international attack on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Here is an excerpt of ICTY judgment confirming Belgrade’s full control over Bosnian Serbs (financial, logistical, and more importantly in direction, coordination and supervision of the activities of the Serb Army, VRS):

Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, paras. 156, 162: “It is sufficient to show that [the Yugoslav Army] exercised overall control over the Bosnian Serb Forces. Such control manifested itself not only in financial, logistical and other assistance and support, but also, and more importantly, in terms of participation in the general direction, coordination and supervision of the activities and operations of the VRS [the Army ofthe Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina/Republika Srpska]. This sort of control is sufficient for the purposes of the legal criteria required by international law.” “[F]or the period material to this case (1992), the armed forces of the Republika Srpska were to be regarded as acting under the overall control of and on behalf of the FRY [the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)]. Hence, even after 19 May 1992 the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina between the Bosnian Serbs and the central authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be classified as an international armed conflict.” See also Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, para. 87. [read more…]

The legal team of Bosnia-Herzegovina had all the tools at their disposal to win the full judgment against Serbia, but what they lacked was wisdom and intelligence to present the case properly. For example, they could more aggressively object courts’ refusal to use the ‘overall control’ test for attribution established in the Tadić case.

Nevertheless, there was Genocide in Bosnia. While ICJ confirmed Srebrenica genocide, another European Court handed down Bosnian genocide judgment. It should be noted that on September 26th 1997, Germany handed down the first Bosnian Genocide conviction to Serb soldier Nikola Jorgic for crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In reviewing the case in the judgement of Nikola Jorgic v. Germany on 12 July 2007 the European Court of Human Rights upheld Bosnian Genocide conviction.


January 16, 2008 2 comments

“If Serbia really wants a European future, they must also cooperate with the handing over of one of the persons responsible for the only genocide in the European continent after the second World War” – Maxime Verhagen, Foreign Minister of Netherlands

The Netherlands will not sign off on a deal paving the way for Serbia to join the European Union until Belgrade turns over war crimes fugitive Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Dutch foreign minister said Wednesday.

Maxime Verhagen (photo on the left) was meeting with his Slovenian counterpart Dimitrij Rupel of Slovenia, which holds the rotating EU presidency

Rupel wants Serbia to sign the preliminary pact later this month, but the Netherlands opposes the move, saying Belgrade can only take the next step toward full EU membership after it has arrested Mladic and handed him to the U.N.’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

“If Serbia really wants a European future, they must also cooperate with the handing over of one of the persons responsible for the only genocide in the European continent after the second World War,” Verhagen told reporters in a hotel on the outskirts of The Hague.

He was referring to Ratko Mladic’s military oversight of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Bosniaks at Srebrenica, Bosnia, which the International Criminal Tribunal ruled was a genocide.

The admission of new EU members must be unanimous, giving the Netherlands the power to block Serbia’s advancement. Belgium has supported the Dutch position.

Earlier Wednesday, Rupel visited the war crimes tribunal, where new chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told him the court’s view on Serbian cooperation was the same as Verhagen’s.

The EU commissioner in charge of the bloc’s expansion, Olli Rehn, has also said that the signing of the preliminary deal – called a Stabilization and Association Agreement – depends on whether Serbia fully cooperates with the U.N. war crimes court.

At issue has been whether Serbia’s assertion it is doing all it can to track down and arrest Mladic and the other fugitives would be seen as full cooperation.

Verhagen said that, as things stand, it would not be.

“My signature is linked to the full cooperation with the tribunal in The Hague and the best proof that there is full cooperation is that they deliver Mladic to The Hague,” he said.

But “we don’t ask the impossible … from Serbia,” he said. “We don’t ask them to deliver what they can’t deliver.

Ratko Mladic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic are the top two of four suspects sought by the tribunal. War crimes prosecutors have lost track of Karadzic, who is the top political leader charged with genocide at Srebrenica, but they are sure Mladic remains in Serbia.

Serbia has said repeatedly it is doing all it can to arrest the fugitives and is working with tribunal investigators to track them down.

Brammertz, who replaced Carla Del Ponte at the start of January, issued a statement Wednesday saying that having the remaining fugitives arrested “remains an absolute priority.”


May 10, 2007 2 comments

EDITORIAL by Srebrenica Genocide Blog
(Feel free to republish with references)

Short Intro: How to win genocide acquittal with cheap arguments available at your local coffee bar? It would be quite humorous if it weren’t so sad. Failures of international justice continue at a rapid rate. Consider recent judgment in a case of Serb Col. Vidoje Blagojevic, whose forces participated in a genocide of over 8,000 Bosniaks in Srebrenica during deadly moments of 7/11 1995…

Today, we have witnessed ‘continuity’ of failures produced by the United Nations and the International Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). It all started with the 1995 massacre in the “safe enclave” of Srebrenica, where over 8,000 Bosniaks were summarily executed by the Bosnian Serb Army in front of very noses of the UN peacekeepers. Not to mention catastrophic failures with respect to the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, where Chief UN War Crimes Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, made a deal with Belgrade to keep crucial evidence censored (as a result, this type of censorship of evidence may have saved Serbia from genocide resonsibility at the International Crimes Tribunal.)

Today, we have witnessed another catastrophy at the ICTY where Serb Col. Vidoje Blagojevic won acquittal on his earlier complicity in genocide conviction. Vidoje Blagojevic who, by the way, happens to facially resemble Adolf Hitler (see photo), seemed unmoved. Neverthless, in January 2005, the ICTY handed down the second Srebrenica Genocide judgment finding Col. Vidoje Blagojevic guilty of complicity in genocide committed after the fall of the UN protected enclave in July 1995; the U.N. sentenced him to 18 years of imprisonment. But today, the Tribunal’s appeals chamber had a change of heart and concluded that Col. Blagojevic, former commander of Bratunac Brigade of Republika Srpska Army, supposedly did not know about the mass murders taking place and “was only providing logistical support”. Our initial response to this judgment was: “Yeah, right. Another insult to human intelligence. How much insult can a reasonable human being really take?”

As concluded by the chamber, this means that Col. Blagojevic “did not share the intention to commit genocide,” stated chairman Judge Fausto Pocar (Italian). If we could go all the way back to 1991, it would be beneficial to let Judge Fausto Pocar spend years in the enclave under siege, and experience (the first hand) how it felt to be subjected to Col. Blagojevic’s terror; not to mention widespread starvation and lack of medical necessities. Maybe only then, Judge Fausto Pocar would have clearer picture of genocidal sufering that Col. Blagojevic’s forces subjected citizens of Srebrenica to.

Only a naive fool can believe that Col. Blagojevic did not know about Genocide when his forces were committing it. In fact, original judges agreed he was responsible for complicity in genocide; however, Judge Fausto Pocar disagreed. It would be interesting to know true leanings of Judge Fausto Pocar – is he objective (as any judge should be), or does he takes sides? Clearly, original judges saw the case in a different light. Sadly, victims of genocide and their traumatized families will never be able to reverse events of 7/11 1995. At that time, armed forces of Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic and the Bosnian Serb war-time leader Radovan Karadzic, rounded up over 8,000 Srebrenica Bosniaks (includings hundreds of children), summarily killed them, threw them in mass graves, later reburied them in different locations to hide the crime, and forcefully expelled thousands of other Bosniaks from their homes. There will be no appeal for victim’s lives; however, war criminals will continue to have “second chances” with respect to technicalities of appeals and endless liberal philosophies.

Another Judge, Mohamed Shahabuddeen (Guyana), dissented on several grounds with Judge Fausto Pocar’s errors in logic. Some of dissenting arguments were in favor of Col. Blagojevic’s appeal, and some against – most notably on the ground to reverse Col. Blagojevic’s original conviction for complicity in genocide.

By the same decision, the chamber has supported the earlier verdict against Dragan Jokic – former chief of engineers of Zvornik Brigade, Republika Srpska Army – sentencing him to nine years’ imprisonment.

While it is extremely hard to prove genocide (almost impossible), once convicted – it is much easier to manipulate the system and get an acquittal, as evidenced in the case of Blagojevic. It seems that Judges are receptive to cheap defence arguments that people “did not know” or “did not intend” to commit genocide. So, according to the indictment against the two, Col. Blagojevic’s troops were involved in separation of men and women and their taking away in buses after the Army of Republika Srpska had entered Srebrenica. Jokic organised the machinery and forces needed for the digging of mass graves of more than 8,000 people killed in Srebrenica.

It seem in this world of ‘insecurity’, ironically only weapons of mass destruction may provide some security and guarantee of survival for those in danger – as the UN has proved to be totaly incapable to save those who can’t save themselves. For example, we witness genocide in Darfur unfolding every day while the UN fails to do anything to protect those poor people from barbarianism initiated by the Sudanese Arab-controlled government. The UN even avoids calling events in Darfur genocide, classifying it as a “massacre.” No wonder Israel does not have much confidence in the United Nations. Those who tirelessly criticize Israel’s nuclear weapons can’t seemingly understand that this small state absolutely needs it to protect itself from total destruction. In a world where small nations can’t rely on the United Nations’ protection, it is obvious that the rule of force is the only rule that guarantees survival.

Based on the allegations in the indictment, the prosecution had requested a sentence of 15 to 20 years for Jokic and 32 years for Blagojevic. The appeals judges, led by Judge Fausto Pocar, upheld Blagojevic’s other convictions for aiding and abetting murder, persecutions on political and racial grounds and inhumane acts. They also upheld the murder, extermination and persecution on racial grounds convictions of Dragan Jokic, 49, a major in the Bosnian Serb army’s Zvornik brigade. Both men were acquitted of allegations of command responsibility. The court said the men had merely passed on orders, rather than given them. Basically, anybody can use this argument as a defence – even Gen Ratko Mladic (if he ever gets caught). He could simply claim that he was passing orders from Radovan Karadzic or even late Slobodan Milosevic, and wash his hands from any responsibility. Therefore, the Blagojevic’s verdict is a total insult to any reasonable person’s intelligence. It seems that – after all – crime pays, given the fact of ridicolous lengths of sentences that were handed down to most (if not all) ICTY convicts for mass killings, rapes, persecutions, crimes against humanity, even genocide.

Another interesting observation worth pointing out is that by Mike Corder, the Associated Press correspondent, who reported on Col. Blagojevic’s total lack of emotions as well as his courage to shout – not in front of judges, but behind their backs (as is the most notable trait of those considered cowards). At least, Slobodan Milosevic was “brave” enough to entertain International judges by shouting at them and making all kinds of funny faces. Here are some examples of Milosevic in front of international judges photo one and photo two. Unfortunately, Milosevic was struck with heart attack, and therefore failed to be convicted on 66 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. Back to Col. Blagojevic, Mike Corder notes:

“The two men’s trial exposed the grim mechanics of genocide, Blagojevic’s troops helped separate the men and women and load them onto on buses after Bosnian Serb troops and paramilitaries overran the eastern Bosnian enclave. Jokic organized machinery and troops to dig mass graves for some of the more than 8,000 Muslim men massacred…. Blagojevic appeared unmoved as the decision was read, but as the judges walked out of the court room, he shouted: ‘This is outrageous. You are protecting the criminal behavior of (Michael) Karnavas in the court room.’ Karnavas was a court-appointed defense attorney with whom Blagojevic refused to cooperate” (UN Appeals Judges Reverse Bosnian Serb Army Officer’s Srebrenica Genocide Conviction)

The Appeals Chamber stated that “no reasonable trier of fact could find beyond reasonable doubt that, without knowledge of the mass killings, Mr. Blagojevic’s awareness of the other facts related to the forcible transfer operation shows that he had knowledge of the principal perpetrators’ genocidal intent”. With respect to the “principal perpetrator’s genocidal intent”, the Judge was clearly refering to the indicted architects of the massacre, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his wartime military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic, both on the run, more than a decade after being indicted for genocide. There is a little or no hope they will ever be caught, as they are regarded as “holy” and “heroes” of mythical proportions among general Serb population.

So far, The ICTY has passed legally binding verdicts against six people indicted for Srebrenica genocide and crimes committed in Srebrenica since 1993, including the verdict for genocide against General Radislav Krstic, former commander of Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army. The International Court of Justice also passed a verdict recognizing Srebrenica massacre as genocide in a case of Bosnia vs. Serbia. Additionally, trials against seven more Srebrenica indictees are ongoing, and three are still to start. Other trials are ongoing in Bosnia-Herzegovina.