Nobel Prizegiving Decisions: Gone To The Dogs

War Crimes Apologist Peter Handke To The Critics Of Genocide Perpetrated By Serbs: “You can stick your corpses up your arse!”

No declarative words can describe the emotions and content triggered by this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature better than the idiom “gone to the dogs”. Nobel Prize has all gone badly wrong and lost all the good things it had. Austrian author and playwright Peter Handke has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2019, with 2018’s postponed award going to Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk.

“You know it was we who protected you from the Asian hordes for centuries. And without us you would still be eating with your fingers.” So declares a character defending the Serbs (and their attendant massacres in the 1990’s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina/ no need to mention the Serb attendant massacres in Croatia during the same time – they are known also) in author Peter Handke’s war play “Die Fahrt im Einbaum oder Das Stueck zum Film vom Krieg” (The Journey into the Dug-out, or the Play of the Film of the War).

“Does the jury sincerely contend that Peter Handke’s appearance at the grave of mass murderer Slobodan Milosovic will advance understanding between nations? Does the brazenness with which Handke glosses over Serbian crimes and denies ethnic cleansing foster solidarity between peoples?” Hubert Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27 May 2006.

Milosevic died in 2006 while on trial at The Hague for war crimes pertaining to the Bosnian genocide, including his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Handke, however, eulogised Milosevic after the dictator’s death, and before an overflow crowd of some 20,000 radical Serb nationalists. Fourteen Serb war criminals, Milosevic’s men, have been convicted of genocide and other crimes against humanity by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the Hague including former Military Commander Radislav Krstic, former President of Republika Srpska (Serbian Republic) Radovan Kadadzic and Bosnian Serb Military Leader Ratko Mladic, also known as the “Butcher of Bosnia”. Handke’s alignment with Milosevic has been so controversial that in 2006, his nomination for the Heinrich Heine Prize was ultimately withdrawn and yet, here we are in 2019, the Nobel Committee. While acknowledging the controversy regarding his apologetic stand on war crimes committed by Serbs the Nobel Committee still awards Handke the Prize!

According to an article published in The Irish Times in April 1999, when critics pointed out that the victims’ corpses of Serb genocide provide evidence of Serb war crimes, Handke replied: “You can stick your corpses up your arse.”

It would seem, sadly, that the Nobel Committee ignored the fact that a controversy does not stand for its own sake but for the sake of upholding to the decent level the world’s moral compass. What a shame! How scandalous indeed!

Pater Handke Photo: Getty images

On Thursday 10 October 2019  Peter Handke, 76, won the 2019 Nobel for Literature “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience,” according to the Swedish Academy, the cultural institution responsible for awarding it. If writing about massacre and genocide in order to support the perpetrator then we can all do without this “periphery and specificity of human experience” being elevated to the Nobel! Kosovo’s ambassador to the United States, Vlora Çitaku, tweeted that the award was a “scandalous decision,” adding that “genocide deniers and Milosevic apologists should not be celebrated.” “Have we become so numb to racism, so emotionally desensitized to violence, so comfortable with appeasement that we can overlook one’s subscription and service to the twisted agenda of a genocidal maniac? We must not support or normalize those who spew hatred. You can do better! Nobel,” Vlora Çitaku tweeted further.

In a statement published by PEN America, the organisation that promotes literary freedom of expression said it was “dumbfounded” by the decision to honour a writer “who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth and offer public succour to perpetrators of genocide.”

“We are dumbfounded by the selection of a writer who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth and offer public succor to perpetrators of genocide, like former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic,” they wrote.

“At a moment of rising nationalism, autocratic leadership, and widespread disinformation around the world, the literary community deserves better than this. We deeply regret the Nobel Committee on Literature’s choice.”

Within just over a day from the announcement of the Nobel Prize award to Peter Handke 25,000 have signed an online Petition to the Nobel Committee seeking to revocation his Nobel! The Petition says: ”Peter Handke is an apologist for the “butcher of Balkans” Slobodan Milosevic. Person who was responsible for wrongful death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and tens of thousands of raped women and men. A person who defends such a monster does not deserve a simplest literary recognition let alone a Nobel Prize. Let us send a loud and clear message to the Nobel Prize Committee, that we do not condone rewarding apologists of mass murderers.”

Winning a Nobel Prize is usually a cause for celebration in the Nobel laureate’s home country as well as worldwide. It is a point of pride in glorious achievements individuals can reach. This pride runs very thin when a laureate’s personal stand outside the works that deserved the Nobel becomes bitter and anger-provoking.

According to AlJazeera, Handke told Serbia’s state TV on Thursday, the night before the Nobel Prize award, that he felt Serbians’ “happiness because of the big award that I have received”, adding that they will celebrate with “a rakija [brandy] and a glass of white wine”.

The Nobel has gone to the dogs! No doubt about that, just a loud shriek of despair! If the world erected a pillar of shame, then this episode with Peter Handke at the Nobel would surely be etched at the top of the list.

Ravaged by infighting, accusations of corruption, and connections with serious sexual assault allegations, the Swedish Academy said in May 2018 that the Nobel Prize for Literature, traditionally announced every autumn, was cancelled for that year.  Prior to Thursday 10 October 2019 observers said this year’s prize has the potential to mark a comeback from the events of last year. Having recognised how low trust was in the Academy. The Nobel Prize is considered by many as the leader in efforts to push things in the other direction, and to open the windows. The only window that has been opened this time around seems to be the one that tells people to forget genocide, even the Holocaust, to forget the atrocities perpetrated by Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina because they weren’t so bad! Ask the victims of Serb genocidal aggression about that! Ask anyone!

The Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize lost a lot with not only the accusations of sexual harassment and sexism, and the man who ended up in jail for rape, but also in how they handled the situation with their own members. It will take time to regain trust and respectability. The catharsis has not occurred yet. The untouchable patriarchs are still ruling, and this is demonstrated by the scandalous decision to award the 2019 Nobel for Literature to Peter Handke for whom the horror of war crimes depends on who perpetrates the war crimes! The catastrophe for human decency of this year’s Nobel for Literature can only be crushed by cancelling the one awarded to Peter Handke. Ina Vukic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radovan Karadzic The Butcher Of Bosnia – Given Life Sentence

Radovan Karadzic

The United Nations international criminal tribunal in The Hague has Wednesday 20 March 2019 rejected former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s appeal against his conviction for genocide and war crimes committed during the war of 1992-1995 that saw the bloody carving out of the so-called entity Serbian Republic within Bosnia and Herzegovina and increased his sentence to life in prison. Without a shadow of a doubt Karadzic was one of the architects and leaders of the joint criminal enterprise to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territories throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina between October 1991 to 30 November 1995, which resulted in genocide and crimes against humanity.

Judges in The Hague upheld a 2016 ruling that Karadzic was responsible for crimes including the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica and the 44-month siege of Sarajevo which claimed about 10,000 lives.

 

Presiding judge Vagn Joensen said the original 40-year sentence did not reflect “the extreme gravity of Karadzic’s responsibility for the gravest crimes committed during the period of conflict, noted for their sheer scale and systematic cruelty”.

 

Reading the verdict of the five-judge panel, Mr Joensen said a life sentence was appropriate given the “extraordinary gravity of Karadzic’s responsibility and his integral participation in the gravest of crimes … committed throughout the entire area of the conflict in Bosnia”.

 

Dismissing Karadzic’s appeal, Mr Joensen said his “contention that he was a psychiatrist and poet with no military training ignores his extensive authority over Bosnian military forces.”

Reportedly Karadzic’s lawyer Peter Robinson said outside the court on Wednesday:

“Karadzic says that if the choice to have an independent [Serb republic in Bosnia] meant that he had to lose his freedom, he’s prepared to make that choice and lose his freedom.”

 

As a reminder, Radovan Karadzic warned Bosniaks and Croats about the dangers of an impending war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in a speech in October 1991 in the Bosnian parliament, after Slovenia and Croatia had already declared independence from Yugoslavia and war of Serb aggression was at its genocidal and ethnic-cleansing of Croats terrifyingly raging stage. He said that leaving Yugoslavia would plunge Bosnia and Herzegovina into violence. The same destiny Croatia was fighting against, defending itself at the time of his speech in Bosnian parliament.

“The road that you are choosing for Bosnia and Herzegovina is the same highway to hell and suffering that Slovenia and Croatia have already taken,” he told lawmakers.

It was a speech that seemed to predict the brutality of the coming conflict, and the massacres that would follow. It would be a “replica” of Serb atrocities that were happening in Croatia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina became independent in 1992, after a vote that was opposed by Serbs who wanted to remain part of Yugoslavia, and then the war broke out.

 

Karadzic’s wartime military chief, Ratko Mladic, is also appealing against the life sentence he was given in 2017 for genocide and war crimes. The former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, Karadzic’s long-time patron during the war, was on trial in The Hague until his death in 2006  Ina Vukic

 

Herceg-Bosna: Non-Malignancy In Defending Croatian Life

Herceg-Bosna Six – From left: Jadranko Prlic, Milivoj Petkovic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Berislav Pusic, Valentin Coric
Photo: AFP

The former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic, dubbed the Butcher of Bosnia, has last week at the ICTY been found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, participating in joint criminal enterprise and sentenced to life in prison.

This coming week an important verdict from the ICTY Appeal Chamber awaits six Croatian men (Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petković, Valentin Ćorić and Berislav Pušić) in relation to war crimes charges pertaining to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The spin and mantra concocted by anti-Croatian political lobby that Croatians engaged in a joint criminal enterprise in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990’s, with view to creating a Greater Croatia/i.e. that Herceg-Bosna territory should become part of Croatia, made it to the ICTY war crimes charge sheet against these Croats. Should one concentrate upon facts as evidence, transcripts of tape-recorded conversations from the Security Council of the Republic of Croatia during the period 1992–95, for example, one would come across the justified and widespread fear that Croats would become dominated in an independent Bosnia and Herzegovina (by Serbs and Muslims/Bosniaks) but that Croatian leadership in early 1992 expressed strongly the idea that entertaining the idea of any part of Bosnia and Herzegovina becoming joined with Croatia was not the path Croatia would pursue with its military assistance, but defending Croats from attacks would be a matter of necessity, especially given the relatively much smaller number of Croats there as opposed to Serb and Bosniak population. Fears of political domination over Croats and Bosniaks came from Serb onslaught first, then subsequently this fear transformed into security concerns in the second half on 1992 due to the increasing tensions stemming from the escalation of Bosniak pursuits to take over control of areas where Croat majority lived. The presence of imported foreign Mujahedin forces (from Middle East and surrounds) fighting alongside Bosniaks added further weight to the Croatian fear for bare survival.

Back to Mladic case, the distressing reality is that Mladic got most of what he, the Serbs and Serbia wanted: a Bosnian Serb statelet (Republika Srpska/Serbian Republic) from which almost every Croat. Bosniak and other non-Serb was cleansed and banished or murdered. He is adored, his portrait adorns bars and office walls in Bosnia and Serbia, his name sung at football matches…the denial and lack of remorse for the criminal enterprise continues.

Mladic faced two counts of genocide: one for Srebrenica, the other for what happened in the “municipalities” elsewhere in Bosnia. He faced no charges for his heinous crimes in Croatia, which were as gruesome as the ones in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Croatia as in Bosnia and Herzegovina serial atrocities were committed, while the international community remained indecisive, and worse – tolerating and even attempting to justify on some trumped-up historical ethnic hatreds the utter depravity of Serb aggression. In that, victims – dehumanised!

The whole idea of the Hague tribunal was as much an act of contrition for that failure as it was ambition for international justice. Mladic’s pogroms included more mass-murder, torture, mutilation and rape, in the camps at Omarska, Trnopolje and Keretem in northwest Bosnia. To the east, in Visegrad, civilians – including babies – were herded alive into houses for incineration, or down to a bridge to be shot, or chopped into pieces, and hurled into the river Drina. Then there was the wholesale demolition of countless towns and villages, and the ‘cleansing’ of all non-Serbs, by death or deportation; the razing of mosques and Catholic churches; the gathering of women and girls into camps for violation all night, every night. And the rest,” Ed Vulliamy (a prosecution witness at Mladic trial, one of the first western journalists to discover Serb concentration camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina), The Guardian.

The Hague ICTY’s (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia), being wound down and replaced with Mechanisms for Criminal Tribunals (MICT), task was always to be judicial, but also to “promote reconciliation” in the Former Yugoslavia territories. There is no reconciliation and the Judges at ICTY have hopefully recognised that fact. There is no reconciliation!

The so-called “joint criminal enterprise” had, in political efforts demonising Croats, spilled into the courtrooms with an overriding political view of equating the victim with the aggressor and with the stark and blatant lack of attempting to fully address the Bosniak/Muslim onslaught against Croats within Bosnia and Herzegovina, the future looks most grim for all should the ICTY confirm a verdict of joint criminal enterprise against the Croatian six this coming week.

While justice is done and seen to have been done via Mladic verdict as relating to the Serb aggression, Serb joint criminal enterprise, and its consequences, a verdict of similar weight in the case of Herceg-Bosna Six would neither be justice nor would justice be seen to have been done.

The United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, called the verdict against Mladic “a momentous victory for justice” and declared that “Mladic is the epitome of evil.”

The problem here is that Mladic did not act alone – the whole of Serb-aggression was the epitome of evil that had to be stopped for humanity’s sake. So, let’s not lose that picture!

Regardless of the verdict that we all feel as part of the campaign against Serbs, Ratko Mladic remains a legend of the Serb nation,” said Milorad Dodik, the president of the Serb statelet in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was carved out and retained via ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs.

Before the start of Serb aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina there were more than 760,000 Croats (17.4% of the country’s total population) living there and today there are barely 450,000. The loss of Croatian population in Bosnia and Herzegovina far exceeds that of the Serbs and Bosniaks (Muslims) and it unequivocally points to not only the many murdered and banished but also to a still-existing oppression of Croats with view to annihilating them as a constitutional ethnic group with equal rights as Serbs and Bosniaks in that country.

While Serbs ethnically cleansed Croats from the so-called Serb statelet “Serbian Republic” within Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croats, faced with Serb aggression and subsequent the added Muslim or Bosniak onslaught against them, managed to hold on and preserve their lives, where they made up more than half of the population, in towns that were at the time defended with the help of HVO (Croatian Defence Council) and include: Grude, Posušje, Široki Brijeg, Čitluk, Dobretići, Domaljevac, Ljubuški, Kupres, Tomislavgrad, Livno, Usora, Neum, Orašje, Kreševo, Prozor-Rama, Odžak, Žepče, Čapljina, Kiseljak i Mostar.

In an interview in the German magazine Der Spiegel in January 1995, President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia said: “The Muslims wanted to reign over the whole of Mostar then gain ground to the sea, and finally create an Islamic state. That is what our Croats are defending themselves against.”

Should injustice from the ICTY Trial Chamber be cemented when it comes to joint criminal enterprise waged against the six Croats in the Hague on 29 November 2017 then, besides injustice and conviction on false and twisted evidentiary grounds, it is as clear as day that both Serbs and Muslims (Bosniaks) will get what they wanted out of Bosnia and Herzegovina from day one: to control parts of the country’s territory and oust the Croats; to ensure Croats become marginalised and eventually disappear.

The active plan to banish Croats from any significant roll in the life of Bosnia and Heregovina did not end with brutal attacks against them during the war from both the Serb and Bosniak side, but it continued with its implementation even after the 1995 Dayton Agreement (which blessed a continued life to the Serbian Republic within the country), after the war. In 2000, for example, a good part of the International community instigated electoral reforms that would give Bosniaks within the Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina the power to rule and “call the shots” over Croats; similar moves were previously put in motion for Serbs within the Serbian Republic in that country. The resulting developments saw and see the increasing loss of equality of Croats within Bosnia and Herzegovina and the increasing numbers of Croats leaving the country under the pressure of oppression and inequality in that constitutionally triethnic state.

Contrary to any interpretations vying to paint Croatia and Croats as aggressors within Bosnia and Herzegovina the fact is that the Croatian leadership never took the decision to attack, but to defend. The full-scale war between the Bosniaks and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina did not break out until the Mujahedins abducted Živko Totić and killed four soldiers in his entourage, the Croat head of the HVO Military Police in Zenica, on 15 April 1993, even if drive-by shootings and threats did occur with great intensity prior to that date.

The fact is that Croats’ war efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina followed no joint criminal enterprise but were, indeed, efforts of non-malignant intent and defensive posture regardless of whether they fought to save themselves from Serbs or Bosniaks.

While the ICTY Prosecutor is seeking increased sentences for the Herce-Bosna Six from the Appeals Chamber, the defence seeks acquittal of all charges, or a retrial. The acquittal or retrial are sought on basis of wrong conclusions by the ICTY Trial Chamber regarding the existence of a joint criminal enterprise and the participation in the same by the Herceg-Bosna Six. Acquittal is surely the only just outcome. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Candles For The Unforgotten – 25 Years On

Vukovar remembers 25 Years since Battle of Vukovar Top R: President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Bottom R: Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic Photo collage: Vecernji List

Vukovar remembers
25 Years since Battle of Vukovar
Top R: President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Bottom R: Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic
Photo collage: Vecernji List

Friday 18 November 2016 more than a 120,000 people took part in the memorial march in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar to the Serb-led Yugoslav army and Serb rebel forces on 18 November 1991 after a three-month siege and slaughter of Croats and ethnic cleansing of Croats from the town. Across Croatia lit candles lined the streets to mark the day 25 years ago when rivers of innocent Croatian blood flowed under the knife of Serb aggressor and the destruction of Croatia reached the point of the senseless and brutal. More than 10,000 people were killed in the Croatian war (1991 – 1995) that started when Croatia declared independence from communist Yugoslavia, triggering a murderous rebellion by minority Serbs to whose aid swiftly came the communist Yugoslavia army seated in Belgrade Serbia.

Remembrance march in Vukovar 18 November 2016 Photo: Screenshot Jutarnji List

Remembrance march in Vukovar
18 November 2016
Photo: Screenshot Jutarnji List

The Battle of Vukovar began on 25 August 1991 when the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA) and Serb paramilitaries mounted an all-out attack on the town. About 1,800 Croatian defenders, including a large number of volunteers from throughout the country, defended the town for almost three months before being overrun by the besieging forces on 18 November 1991. About 4,000 people were killed in the battle.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic lights candles at Vukovar Memorial Cemetery 18 November 2016 Photo: Marko Markonjic/Pixsell

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
lights candles at Vukovar Memorial Cemetery
18 November 2016
Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

JNA troops took wounded Croatian soldiers and civilians from the town hospital to a nearby pig farm at Ovcara and executed them in the night between 20 and 21 November 1991. Two hundred bodies have been exhumed from the Ovcara mass grave and 76 persons are still unaccounted for. The youngest victim was 16 years old and the oldest was 84. Among the victims was a woman seven months pregnant.
After the town’s occupation, several thousand Croatian prisoners of war and civilians were taken to concentration camps in Serbia, and about 22,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were expelled from the town.
A total of 309 persons from the Vukovar area are still listed as missing.

From Left: Hero, Dr Vesna Bosanac of Vukovar Hospital 1991 Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia Ivan Penava, Mayor of Vukovar at Vukovar 18 November 2016 Photo:Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

From Left: Hero, Dr Vesna Bosanac of Vukovar Hospital 1991
Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb,
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia
Ivan Penava, Mayor of Vukovar
at Vukovar 18 November 2016
Photo:Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

On the same day, November 18, 2016, several thousand people gathered in the coastal Skabrnja on Friday to commemorate the massacre on 18 November 1991 of 58 Croatian civilians and 26 soldiers by Serb rebel forces led by Ratko Mladic (currently at the Hague, ICTY, for war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina including Srebrenica genocide).

Remembrance march 2016 Skabrnja, Croatia Photo: HINA/ ml

Remembrance march 2016
Skabrnja, Croatia
Photo: HINA/ ml

The next day, November 19th, thousands march peacefully in remembrance of massacres and tortures of Croats in Borovo Naselje (next to Vukovar) and Nadin (next to Skarbrnje) when of 19 November 1991 Serb paramilitary forces made up of Croatian Serbs with the help of Yugoslav army seated in Belgrade, Serbia, stormed into these villages and as in Vukovar and Skabrnje the day before – massacred dozens of Croatian civilians, forcing others in their thousands to concentration camps both in Croatia and in Serbia. The same terror occurred in many other places, day by day. It was the time of Serb occupation of Croatian lands by means of murder, ethnic cleansing, rape, destruction… a reign of terror no one can forget and most cannot forgive – the pain is still too fresh and the crimes still unpunished. This is not a good report card for Croatian governments since at least 1998 when the last patch of Croatian Serb-occupied land was reintegrated into Croatia. There are still hundreds upon hundreds of massacred and murdered Croats on the missing list and Serb simply will not reveal where their remains are buried.

Stone monument to those massacred in Nadin on 19 November 1991 Photo: Vladimir Brkic

Stone monument to those massacred in Nadin
on 19 November 1991
Photo: Vladimir Brkic

 

Besides political rhetoric and declarations of condemnation Croatian governments have not really set a firm agenda intent on achieving the result of finding out where the remains of the missing people are and what had happened to them. This agenda should become the Croatian government’s demand to Serbia as part of Serbia’s negotiations to EU membership.

I hope that after 25 years we will receive an answer to the question where our people perished, and then find the perpetrators and try them for their crimes and punish them,” said in Borovo Naselje to HRT TV news Ljiljana Alvir, president of the Union of the Families of the Imprisoned and the Missing.

Ljiljana Alvir Photo:hrt.hr

Ljiljana Alvir
Photo:hrt.hr

She said that when talking about Borovo Naselje, people from Borovo village (near Vukovar), the Serbs who were there (in 1991) and those who still live there, and who participated in the crimes and celebrated their “victory” on 19 November 1991, know where the graves of the missing are. She added that threats are made against Borovo population and the population of similar places, if they reveal where the graves are, that something (nasty) will happen to them. Besides, she said, they also fear that they’ll be indicted of the crimes if they reveal burial places and, therefore, keep quiet.

Remembrance march Borovo Naselje 19 November 2016 Photo:Gordan Panic

Remembrance march
Borovo Naselje 19 November 2016
Photo:Gordan Panic

We expect concrete measures from the Croatian government and pressure against Serbia, especially via the European parliament and to show Serbia that, if it doesn’t solve the question of the missing, it would not enter the EU as member state…” Alvir added.
Perhaps the new Croatian government will achieve more for the road to the revelation of the graves of the missing by appointing the retired General Ante Gotovina as Special Adviser to Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic at a government meeting in Vukovar on Thursday 17 November2016. General Gotovina along with general Mladen Markac were acquitted in 2012 by the ICTY of war crimes charges relating to the 1995 Operation Storm which liberated much of Croatian territory of Serb occupation.

Ante Gotovina Photo: FaH/ Mario STRMOTIC /ds

Ante Gotovina
Photo: FaH/ Mario STRMOTIC /ds

I am very pleased that my great friend and our hero has accepted my proposal and this engagement. I am confident that the general, with his knowledge and competence, will make a considerable contribution to national security and the development of the Croatian Armed Forces. It is my desire to continue encouraging the engagement of former professional soldiers and officers who helped in creating our Homeland and who can certainly also help in maintaining national security,” Krsticevic said in his Facebook post. https://eblnews.com/news/croatia/general-gotovina-appointed-special-adviser-defence-minister-44830 Serbs and Serbia are not going to be happy about this appointment as they continue with their denial of war crimes committed in Croatia but then nothing short of strong measures by Croatia will ever do justice to the victims of Serb-aggression crimes in Croatia.

And that pressure against Serbia should become the focus of all Croatian citizens in the coming months and years, if needed. Remembering those that perished without a trace, year after year, loses its true meaning without real efforts being made in finding their graves and their destiny. And so, I too hope that the Croatian government will turn its political rhetoric about the need to find the missing and start applying some real measures and pressures to actually give that revelation a real prospect. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia Remembering Victims Of Vukovar And Skabrnje

Fountain in Zagreb lights up as Vucedol Dove the symbol of Vukovar Croatia 24th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar

Fountain in Zagreb
lights up as Vucedol Dove
the symbol of Vukovar
Croatia
24th anniversary of the
fall of Vukovar

 

On the night of November 17th people of Croatia’s capital Zagreb and their friends and visitors lit up the city with candles lining its long and wide artery called Vukovar Street! This was in memory and honour of all those who perished and died defending the Croatian city of Vukovar from brutal and genocidal Serb aggression in 1991 until the city fell on its knees on 18 November 1991, suffered genocide and ethnic cleansing committed against the Croats and other non-Serbs and became occupied by Serb-led forces.

 Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Lights the candles along Vukovar Street in Zagreb 17 November 2015 Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX


Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Lights the candles along
Vukovar Street in Zagreb
17 November 2015
Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

More than 10,000 candles were lit last night in the capital Zagreb along the 10-kilometre Vukovar Street to remember victims from the 1990s homeland war in the eastern town of Vukovar.

 

The damage to Vukovar during the long siege prior to that date in 1991 has been called the worst in Europe since World War II, drawing comparisons with the World War II–era Stalingrad. The city’s water tower, riddled with bullet holes, has been retained by city planners to serve as a testimony to the events of the early 1990s.

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 - brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 – brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar was heavily damaged during the Croatian War of Independence. Approximately 2,000 self-organised defenders (the army of Croatia was still in an formative stage at that time) defended the city for 87 days against approximately 36,000 Yugoslav People’s Army/JNA troops commanded by Serbia supplemented with 110 vehicles and tanks and dozens of planes. The city suffered heavy damage during the siege and was eventually overrun. Untold cruelty was suffered by the Croatian people of Vukovar during the siege – massacres, murders, tortures, rapes, forced deportation, humiliation, forced detention… Some 2,000 defenders of Vukovar and civilians were killed, 800 went missing (more than half of which are still missing to this day in 2015) and 22,000 Croat and non-Serb civilians from Vukovar were forced into exile.

Remembering those that perished Vukovar Street in Zagreb 17 November 2015 Remembering Vukovar of 1991 Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

Remembering those that perished
Vukovar Street in Zagreb
17 November 2015
Remembering Vukovar of 1991
Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

On that same day – 18 November 1991 – on the other end of Croatia – in the seaside village of Skabrnje near Zadar – another terrible crime was committed by Serbs, under the command of Ratko Mladic (held also responsible for Srebrenica genocide 1995), against innocent Croatian civilians. Moving from house to house, Serb butchers tortured, murdered and massacred 43 civilians and 15 Croatian defenders. The Croatian villagers that survived were forced into exile and their property burned and pillaged.

 

Memorial to victims of massacres in Skabrnje Serb aggressors were most brutal 18 Nov 1991

Memorial to victims of
massacres in Skabrnje
Serb aggressors were most brutal
18 Nov 1991

Today on the 18th of November 2015 the 24th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar is marked in Vukovar and the 24th anniversary of the Skabrnje massacre.
On the main road in Vukovar, along the road where on 18 November the procession will pass, a banner with the names of the deceased Croatian soldiers has been put up. The banner is over 200 metres long and includes 1,145 names. This is the first time that the names of all those who have laid down their lives for independent Croatia in Vukovar have been publicly presented.

Vukovar Tower and banner with names of the victims of 1991 Serb aggression Photo: Davor Javorovic/Pixsell

Vukovar Tower and
banner with names of the victims of 1991
Serb aggression
Photo: Davor Javorovic/Pixsell

Vukovar and Skabrnje from 1991 are a sad, terrifying reminder and distressing symbol of hatred and aggression the whole of Croatia was made to suffer because it wanted freedom from communist Yugoslavia; because it wanted democracy for its people!

Croatia and Croats Will Always Remember!

Croatia and Croats
Will Always Remember!

 

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Bows to the victims of Skabrnje 18 November 2015 Photo: HINA

Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Bows to the victims
of Skabrnje
18 November 2015
Photo: HINA

May the victims of the heinous Serb aggression rest in eternal peace and honour. Lest We Forget. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Radovan Karadzic Genocide Against Croats And Bosniaks ICTY Trial At Its End

Radovan Karadzic - Photo: AP

Radovan Karadzic – Photo: AP

 

On Monday 29 September 2014 the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague heard the Prosecution’s final arguments in the genocide and war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, charged with some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II, including the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. Initially indicted on 25 July 1995, Karadzic, 69, is facing 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Bosnian Croats between 1992 and 1995 during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced 2.2 million people. Karadzic evaded arrest for many years to be finally found living in Serbia in July 2008, under an assumed name, reportedly practicing as a faith healer. He was arrested on a Belgrade bus and taken to The Hague; his ICTY war crimes trial commenced in October 2009.

Prosecutor says Karadzic along with late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic acted together to “cleanse” Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territories after the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.
Under his command and oversight, Karadzic’s subordinates and those cooperating with them expelled, killed, tortured and otherwise mistreated hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats,” said the prosecutor’s final trial brief (PDF click here), released on Friday 26 September.
The scale and scope of these criminal campaigns is vast,” the brief says.
Karadzic is notably accused of masterminding the July 1995 massacre in the small eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops slaughtered almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys and dumped their bodies into mass graves.
Apart from genocide, Karadzic is also facing charges over the 44-month-long siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which ended in November 1995 with some 10,000 people killed.
During the siege, “fear pervaded daily life — the most mundane acts such as crossing the street or fetching water carried the risk of death,” the prosecutor said.

In their final statements the prosecution stated on Monday that Karadzic was the driving force of genocide against Croats and Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina; that he was responsible, among other war crimes acts, for the killing of 7 to 8 000 men and boys in Srebrenica, and for the shelling of Sarajevo. The prosecution seeks lifelong prison sentence.

The ICTY prosecution has no doubts: Radovan Karadzic is a “Mafia-gangster” and a liar who implemented genocide and ethnic cleansing. After hundreds of witnesses, 8 000 pages of court transcript and 10000 items of evidence the prosecution minced no words, hid no emotion, at the Hague on Monday.

Let me give you the sad picture”, said prosecutor Alan Tieger, “the population was systematically harassed, thousands were taken forcefully from their homes, mutilated and killed, the whole ethnic minorities tens of thousands of people were forcefully deported, hundreds of thousands suffered months long sieges in Bihac, Derventa, Gorazda and Sarajevo. Many ended up in camps in inhumane conditions where hundreds were killed…”

Tieger said Karadzic publicly “bragged at the time about the painstaking steps he was taking” to violently remove non-Serbs from parts of Bosnia to create an “ethnically pure” Serb state within Bosnia.

The court saw many examples of brutality, depravity and sheer criminal activity as evidence  – evidence that showed prisoners in these camps were forced to eat parts of each other’s bodies, women were forced to clean up blood during the day and were raped at night, to thousands of boys and men murdered in Srebrenica. All that and more was done within the joint criminal enterprise that had as its goal a forceful creation of an ethnically clean Serbian state.

Karadzic is expected to close his own defence today (Wednesday) and Thursday of this week. According to legal advisor Peter Robinson, Deutsche Welle reports, “He will demonstrate that he played no part in genocide or the murder of Muslims,” Robinson told the British Broadcasting Corporation, calling the opportunity for Karadzic, who is defending himself, a “milestone.”
At his opening statement in March 2010, Karadzic told judges that the atrocities for which he was being held had been “staged” by his Muslim enemies – and that the Srebrenica massacre was a “myth.” Do not expect remorse or admission from a born and bred criminal.
The verdict is not expected before mid to late 2015. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Artillery on Appeal: Proportionality and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Reblogged from Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog

By Jack Vrett

Last month, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) heard oral arguments in the important case of Prosecutor v. Gotovina. The case concerns the decisions of General Ante Gotovina, the commander of Croatian forces during Operation Storm in August of 1995. The case’s outcome may have far reaching implications on the practical application of the law of armed conflict.

The Gotovina prosecution arose out of Operation Storm, a massive Croatian military effort to retake Serbian controlled areas of Croatia. In brief, and painting with a broad brush, it came in the wake of the Srebrenica Massacre, which later the U.N. Secretary General called the worst crime in Europe since World War II. At Srebrenica, Serbians under Ratko Mladic murdered over 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in an effort to drive Bosnians from the area. Operation Storm came on the heels of the massacre, and was an overwhelming success. The Serbian forces were devastated. Their leaders were forced to the negotiating table, and the peace accords soon followed.

After the war, the ICTY’s Office of the Prosecutor indicted Gotovina for war crimes arising from the targeting decisions he oversaw while commanding his forces in Operation Storm. Gotovina went into hiding, but he was apprehended on December 7th, 2005. On April 15, 2011, the ICTY Trial Chamber convicted Gotovina, concluding that he deliberately executed indiscriminate attacks during Operation Storm resulting in civilian deaths.

The potential significance of the Trial Chamber’s judgment, and the pending appeal, cannot be overstated. As an Emory panel of experts offered, “[T]he manner in which [the law] is enunciated and applied in the Gotovina judgment has extraordinary import for future operations and conflicts. The case is apparently the first – and likely the only – case assessing complex targeting decisions involving the use of artillery against a range of military objectives in populated areas during a sustained assault.”

When Gotovina was returned to the Hague, he joined two other co-defendants who were charged with a joint criminal enterprise:

The alleged common criminal purpose of the joint criminal enterprise was the permanent removal of the Serb population from the Krajina region by force, fear or threat of force, persecution, forced displacement, transfer and deportation, as well as appropriation and destruction of property. The Prosecution alleges that in addition to the crimes forming part of the joint criminal enterprise, the crimes of murder, inhumane acts, and cruel treatment were committed, and were foreseeable as a possible consequence of the execution of the enterprise.

Gotovina, IT-06-90-T, para. 7.

For Gotovina’s part, as the military commander approving targeting decisions, the course of the trial became a battle of experts. A former Dutch Artillery officer testified on behalf of the Prosecution, and a former U.S. Army legal officer (judge advocate) testified on behalf of Gotovina. At the conclusion of the trial, the tribunal convicted Gotovina and one of his co-defendants (the third was acquitted). Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Gotovina and his remaining co-defendant filed their notices of appeal, and after briefing, oral argument was heard on May 14th, 2012.

The Gotovina prosecution was significant from the start. As soon as the Prosecutor issued the indictment, the United States House Committee on International Relations sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell asking the Department of State to closely monitor the Prosecutor’s indictment of Gotovina. The letter reminded Secretary Powell of allegations that “the Clinton Administration provided intelligence and other assistance to the Republic of Croatia in connection with [Operation Storm].” The letter continued:

The ICTY has indicted a Croatian General, Ante Gotovina, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. These allegations are based on reports that he failed to intervene to stop forces under his command who intentionally drove thousands of Serb civilians from their homes during [Operation Storm]. Testimony was presented [to the committee] questioning the factual basis for this indictment, and indeed the U.S. Ambassador to Croatia at the time of this operation, Peter Galbraith, has argued that Serbian civilians were not forced to flee. Nevertheless, it was brought to our attention that the ICTY may investigate U.S. officials for command responsibility in connection with Operation Storm.

The letter ended, “We urge the Administration to carefully monitor the Gotovina case and related investigations in order to ensure that no U.S. official is investigated or prosecuted by this U.N. tribunal for formulating or carrying out U.S. government policy.”

Not surprisingly, Operation Storm bore the mark of NATO military doctrine. Some observers have suggested that Operation Storm was conceived and planned with the help of former military officers from NATO member states. The Croatian forces were well-trained, and their execution synchronized, massing effects against enemy weaknesses. What’s more, the evidence suggests that targeting decisions were carefully vetted by those involved to insure they complied with international law. Distinction and proportionality were considered prior to engaging each target.

The critical aspect of the judgment was the trial chamber’s application of the principle of Proportionality in armed conflict. Proportionality in the Law of Targeting is often mistaken for the concept of “proportionate response” from domestic self-defense provisions in criminal law, or a type of fairness requirement between opponents where force is matched with counter-force. But the principle of proportionality in International Humanitarian Law is something else entirely.

Proportionality, as properly understood, is a longstanding principle of the law of armed conflict which balances military necessity and humanity. It calls on commanders, prior to an attack, to weigh the military advantage to be gained against the risk of excessive collateral damage. The International Committee of the Red Cross restated the customary rule that, “[l]aunching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited.” (Rule 14, Customary International Humanitarian Law, ICRC).

Although a well-established principle of customary law, proportionality was codified in treaty law as the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks. Article 51(5) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions provision that an attack is indiscriminate if it is “an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” (emphasis added). Moreover, the Elements of Crimes for the International Criminal Court (ICC) set forth the criminal law standard for applying the principle of proportionality under the Rome Statute. In Article 8(2)(b)(iv), the ICC Elements of Crime provide five elements to be proved in a prosecution for the “War crime of excessive incidental death, injury, or damage.”

(1) The perpetrator launched an attack.

(2) The attack was such that it would cause incidental death or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment and that such death, injury or damage would be of such an extent as to be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.

(3) The perpetrator knew that the attack would cause incidental death or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment and that such death, injury or damage would be of such an extent as to be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.

(4) The conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an international armed conflict.

(5) The perpetrator was aware of factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict.

The Elements of Crime continue, adding special points of clarification:

The expression “concrete and direct overall military advantage” refers to a military advantage that is foreseeable by the perpetrator at the relevant time. Such advantage may or may not be temporally or geographically related to the object of the attack. The fact that this crime admits the possibility of lawful incidental injury and collateral damage does not in any way justify any violation of the law applicable in armed conflict. It does not address justifications for war or other rules related to jus ad bellum. It reflects the proportionality requirement inherent in determining the legality of any military activity undertaken in the context of an armed conflict.

Notably, the “knowledge element [the third element] requires that the perpetrator make the value judgment as described therein. An evaluation of that value judgment must be based on the requisite information available to the perpetrator at the time.” This type of value judgment, calling for command discretion, is not uncommon and is firmly rooted in international criminal law.

When considering command discretion, such as the value judgment that weighs military advantage against the risk of excessive civilian damage, courts are to apply a subjective standard. Applying a subjective standard is not new in international criminal law. Rather, at Nuremberg following the Second World War, the International Military Tribunal pronounced the Rendulic Rule: “It is our considered opinion that the conditions, as they appeared to the defendant at the time were sufficient upon which he could honestly conclude that urgent military necessity’ warranted the decision made.” XI Nuremberg Military Tribunals, Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, 1113 (1950). Known for an Austrian Commander named Lothar Rendulic, the Tribunal dismissed the charges against him relating to a “scorched earth” tactic to slow the advance of the Soviets in Finland and Norway. Rendulic ordered the destruction of civilian buildings and infrastructure to delay the Soviets as they pursued his retreating forces. The Soviets never came, so in hindsight, his order to destroy civilian buildings and infrastructure served no legitimate military purpose. Yet the Rendulic Rule provides that when assessing the conduct of soldiers on the battlefield, they should be judged by the facts and circumstances as they appeared to the soldier at the time.

Surprisingly, the Gotovina judgment imposed almost a “zero error” standard in which commanders are strictly liable for any civilian injuries or deaths when executing attacks.

First, the chamber created a 200 meter presumption of lawfulness, concluding that “artillery projectiles which impacted within a distance of 200 meters of an identified artillery target were deliberately fired at that artillery target.” Then, the court reviewed the evidence and decided that 94.5% of the artillery fired impacted within the 200 meter radius of military targets, but 5.5% of the artillery impacted beyond the 200 meter radius. The court categorized those 5.5% as having impacted in civilian areas. From this 94.5% success rate, the court inferred unlawful motive for the remaining 5.5%. “Too many projectiles impacted in areas which were too far away from identified artillery targets for the artillery projectiles to have impacted in these areas incidentally as a result of errors or inaccuracies in [Gotovina’s] artillery fire.” Accordingly, Gotovina was convicted.

As can be seen, the Trial Chamber’s reasoning was markedly different from how proportionality (and indiscriminate attacks) is typically imagined under Customary International Law and Treaty Law. Whether the judgment is affirmed – or more importantly, the way in which the appellate court analyzes the proportionality problem – will have far reaching impacts on how militaries plan operations going forward.

There is no indication as to which way the court will decide. Although the case will merely serve as persuasive authority for other courts and tribunals, Gotovina is the first time that a court has considered sophisticated targeting decisions between conventional forces.

Thankfully, if this type of material interests readers, there is a lot of great work being done in the area of International Criminal Law. However, for more on the application of International Criminal Law to military operations and terrorism, readers can do no better than reviewing the many works of Vanderbilt Law’s Michael Newton, especially here, here, and most recently, here.

DISCLAIMER:

Jack Vrett, J.D. 2009, is a Captain in the United States Army currently assigned as the Chief of International and Operational Law for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The opinions and conclusions of this post, as well as its flaws, are solely attributable to the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Judge Advocate General, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the United States Army, the United States Department of State, or any other federal entity.

Serbia looks to disperse and deflate guilt for war crimes

On streets of Belgrade, Serbia – Photo: Marko Drobnjakovic/AP

According to article published in Vecernji List, Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor is currently undertaking preliminary investigations against unknown persons, journalists and editors of some media in Serbia, for inciting war crimes and calling upon people to perpetrate them during 1990’s. A letter by Serbia’s chief prosecutor for war crimes, Vladimir Vukcevic, reportedly says: “that the opening of the question about the promoters of disallowed propaganda is not in contradiction with realisation of the human rights to freedom of thought and commitment.”

The Prosecution’s goal in this, Vukcevic claims, is not in jeopardising the freedom and rights of journalists guaranteed by the Serbian and international laws, but in checking whether the abuse of these rights brought threats to the right to life civilian population had, and whether it contains elements of war crimes.

Vukcevic said that media propaganda under Slobodan Milosevic’s regime was not allowed (Can you believe this rubbish!) and that it often threatened the right to life, that it’s goal was to dehumanise the opponent, stripping its victim from its status as a human being and added that media propaganda in the 1990’s on the territory of former Yugoslavia was a prelude to war.

Here goes yet another wicked plan to reduce the guilt of Serbia’s regime for the aggression and genocide and ethnic cleansing that occurred in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1990’s. Here goes another road to burying the truth about why the war started and who the aggressor was.

The truth can only be one: Serbs, encouraged by Milosevic’s regime, did not want former Yugoslavia to break off into independent states of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina … they only wanted Yugoslavia within which they could rule and exert power and supremacy.

Serbia’s media propaganda under Milosevic’s regime did not go out brandishing incitement to hatred and violence against Croatians or Bosnians on its own bat. Serbia’s leadership and Yugoslav Peoples Army leadership fed the media and Serb media picked up the messages, spread them like wildfire and the result was: Serb nationals living in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina heard the message from Belgrade and started pounding mercilessly against their non-Serb neighbours or anyone that wanted to secede from Yugoslavia. Media did not supply guns, knives, batons, logs … to Serb civilians who initially terrorised people of non-Serb ethnicity.

According to the UK Guardian portal Serbia’s prosecutor for war crimes is on another similar mission these days:  they’ve been investigating and are “about to expose the role played by the Serbian elite in harbouring war criminals such as Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic,” and Goran Hadzic – all of whom had been hiding in Serbia from ICTY for years and years and are currently before the international criminal tribunal in the Hague, charged with war crimes.

There is a new kind of nationalism (in Serbia), a defensiveness in which the man in the street likes to see Serbs as victims,” the Guardian article states.

There’s nothing new about this, Serbs had, from the beginning, planned ahead to appear as victims if their aggressive war efforts in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina went sour on them and they lost the war they started. That is why they planned and executed their own mass exodus from Croatia when Operation Storm liberated Krajina as Croatian territory in 1995. The sad and unfortunate reality for humanity is that certain members of the European Union picked up on this Serbian evil ploy, perhaps unawares of the evilness of it, and the process of equating the victim with the aggressor grew legs all over the place, including with the ICTY prosecutor.

Serbia’s new president Tomislav Nikolic  has always had dreams and actions for a Greater Serbia just like Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic masterminded ethnic cleansing at the time when Nikolic’s occupied a deputy’s position with the National Assembly of Serbia (parliament). Nikolic had recently stated that there was no genocide in Srebrenica (July 1995, when Serbs massacred more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys) and that Croatians need not return to Vukovar because Vukovar is a Serb city! (Vukovar, a Croatian city destroyed by Serbs in 1991/1992, ethnically cleansed of Croatians and Non-Serbs, left with mass graves of Croatian victims, left in ruins…)

It is in Nikolic’s interests that blame for incitement to war and aggression, to war crimes, is shifted away from Serbia’s parliament where he served and from Milosevic’s regime. Serbian prosecutor for war crimes may say that it’s investigating the media and Serbian “elite” for complicity in war crimes and harbouring war criminals despite Nikolic, but I believe it’s for the benefit of Nikolic and his renewed nationalistic vigour which attempts to justify the unjustifiable Serb crimes on the territory of former Yugoslavia during 1990’s. The fact that he said last month that Vukovar is a Serb city speaks volumes about the fact that much of Serbia is nowhere close to dealing with its guilt of aggression and war crimes against neighbouring nations. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

ICTY Prosecution creates contemptible deplorable hiatus in Ratko Mladic genocide hearing

Ratko Mladic – Photo: Serge Ligtenberg/Getty Images

Incredulous!

No system of justice is perfect, but in a case such as the ICTY case against Serb Ratko Mladic for Srebrenica genocide (1995) and other atrocities of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Balkans War of 1990’s the prosecution’s adherence to rules of evidence (including disclosure) must be water tight and without errors, advertent or inadvertent.

The calamity that ensued in ICTY court on Thursday 17 May cannot be called an error, not even a monumental error, but a willful misconduct by the prosecution to favour the accused (or the Greater Serbia cause) and perhaps to even avoid “too much attention” on the UN Dutch peace-keepers in Srebrenica at the time who had been criticised for fatally contributing to the Srebrenica tragedy.

Certainly, had the ICTY prosecution kept its sights on the victims of genocide, as its supposed to, then the contemptible episode at ICTY on May 17 would not have occurred and Mladic’s hearing would have proceeded as scheduled. With the plans to shut down the ICTY in 2014 one wonders whether ICTY planned to finish the work it started, whether it plans to still or whether it’ll simply transfer unfinished cases to non-UN courts, to dark underground of memory loss, or what?

Justice for the victims of Srebrenica genocide and their families is once again on hold.

Ratko Mladic’s war crimes trial was suspended in only its second day, after it came to light that the prosecution had failed to disclose some evidence against Mladic to the defense as required. It’s not clear how long the hiatus will last.

According to UK Daily Telegraph, “court officials estimate that ‘millions of pages’ contained in ‘tens of thousands of documents’ were not disclosed to the defence as required under the UN court’s rules.

The deadline for disclosure was last November and despite complaints from the defence in February, the UN prosecutors had failed to hand over the documents by last Friday.

The case files relate to the first 24 witnesses that the prosecution had hoped to call between 29 May and July, when the court goes into recess.

The presiding judge Alphons Orie at the UN trial of Ratko Mladic said he was indefinitely delaying the presentation of evidence that had been scheduled to start later this month due to ‘significant disclosure errors’ by prosecutors in disclosing evidence to defence lawyers”.

The case got off to an incendiary start on Wednesday May 16 when Mladic, dubbed the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, was warned after making a throat-slitting gesture towards the families of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre.

On Thursday May 17 he sat back, smiled and applauded as the court was shown footage of him haranguing UN peacekeepers and urging on his troops on the eve of Europe’s worst massacre since the Holocaust.

The video showed Mladic swaggering through the deserted streets of Srebrenica town centre after its residents had fled his troops’ advance in blind panic… ‘Go to Potocari,’ he shouts. ‘Straight to Bratunac.’ These were the killing grounds where thousands of Muslim prisoners would be butchered in the coming days.”

The adjournment was not a surprise reports The Daily Telegraph: “The delay was expected, after Mladic’s legal team had already tried to force the postponement of the trial on the same grounds. Prosecutors have admitted the errors, without yet providing an explanation, and did not object to the delay in the presentation of evidence.

Mladic faces 11 charges of war crimes, including genocide for the murder of 7,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, who were machine-gunned and bulldozed into mass graves in July 1995”.

Allan Little of BBC reports: “It has been an embarrassing day for international justice. As grieving relatives sat through the chilling detail of the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II, it emerged that the prosecution had failed to disclose thousands of pages of evidence that should have been shared with the defence”.

“Grieving” is not the right word to describe the relatives of genocide victims at the hearing. Words, in fact, fail to describe the pain and torture inflicted by the prosecution upon the families of the genocide victims who sat in the ICTY court as the suspension of Mladic’s hearing was announced.

It cannot be accepted that prosecution made an error, because a procedural error of this magnitude cannot be accidental or inadvertent. It cannot simply be called an error because that’s the acceptable language used in courts and gravity of such a word is not what this case requires.  It must be seen as purposeful and calculating behaviour, suggestive of deviant character, and political scheming by staff involved in the prosecutor’s office.

The same judge, Alphons Orie, was the judge at the trial of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac and the bias he showed in that trial towards the prosecution evidence is staggering, especially when compared to Ratko Mladic case. In the latter he suspends the hearing indefinitely for prosecution’s failure to produce evidence and in the case against Croatian generals he did not even bother directing the court that witness statements regarding  “bodies” alleged lying in the streets of Knin during Operation Storm must be tested in order to remove doubt, in order to reach the truth whether in fact there were civilian casualties. Of course, there were none, but he chose to leave that detail out as a matter of proven fact.

Orie should not have suspended the Mladic trial indefinitely – surely appraising the meaning of the prosecution’s rotten stunt in terms of rules of evidence is not a matter that takes “indefinite” time for such senior “legal eagles”! Also, Miladic’s defence team would require time to digest the new evidence, but that too can be limited to reasonable a time-frame.

Perhaps the fact that Orie is of Dutch extraction and the Dutch UN forces fatally affected the “success” of Srebrenica genocide might have some influence on the way things pan out at the Mladic trial. Certainly, given the whole circumstances in 1995 Srebrenica and current trial at ICTY one would have thought that a judge, no matter how fair he might be, of Dutch extraction should not be presiding over this genocide hearing and possibility of apprehended bias would surely cross the minds of victims involved?

The ICTY prosecutor’s office could possibly redeem itself from this cruel misconduct to some extent by adding new war crimes to Mladic’s charges, viz. those in relation to war crimes he was a participating perpetrator in Croatia. He perfected his war crimes “skills” in the genocide of Skabrnje (some 100 civilians massacred, November 1991 – February 1992). Although he has been convicted and sentenced to 20 years prison in Croatia, in absentia, he will never serve this sentence so at least, the ICTY prosecutor would do well if genocide in Croatia is also added to Mladic’s miserable criminal existence on international record. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Carl Bildt: disgraceful and pathetic attack on Florence Hartmann

Carl Bildt - Photo: AP

Communists used to (and still do) attack people, instead of sticking to truth or having to answer complaints against them. Perhaps he learned this trade from Slobodan Milosevic whom he called a nice man.

Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, decided to reply to Florence Hartmann’s condemnation of his presence in Sarajevo’s commemoration of 20th anniversary of the city’s siege.

The Swedish News in English Local writes that Bildt rejected her criticism, accusing her of inaccuracies.

She should read my books instead of telling lies,” the minister wrote on his blog, adding that the French journalist had exhibited a “customary carelessness with the facts”.

 He noted that she was “in conflict to such an extent” with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) that a warrant for her arrest had been issued.

 Hartmann was wartime Balkans correspondent of French daily Le Monde and later spokeswoman for the former ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.

 She was found guilty by the court, her former employer, of contempt for disclosing confidential details of Milosevic’s trial, but has refused to pay a €7,000 ($9,000) fine.

She was also sentenced to seven days in prison and an arrest warrant was issued but France has said it will not arrest her.

 As Sweden’s prime minister between 1991 and 1994, Bildt played an important role during the 1992-1995 inter-ethnic Bosnian war.

 From 1995 to 1997 he was also the first high representative of the international community after the signing of the Dayton peace accord that ended the conflict.

Milosevic was considered by many a key culprit of the war due to his political and military support of the Bosnian Serbs”.

How pathetic can a person get! Bildt, instead of replying to Hartmann, he attacks her by regurgitating the fact that she had a judgment against her by ICTY. The whole world knows about that ICTY judgment, the whole world knows about other brave journalists with ICTY judgments against them – for revealing to the world that which the world has a right to know.

But Bildt would like us to think that because of that ICTY judgment against her, she’s not credible. WRONG! She did tell the truth about Bildt and that he did not do anything to stop the carnage in Sarajevo in 1992, nor elsewhere in the Balkans during that war.

He calls upon Hartmann to read his books! He would have had no trouble publishing a book, and certainly, the writings of his that I have come across clearly show that he does not always show the truth.

So why read them at all.

E.g. in his book “Peace Journey: The struggle for peace in Bosnia” he reduced the 8,000 men and boys massacred in Srebrenica to about/not more more than 3,000!

In five days of massacres, Mladic had arranged for the methodical execution of more than three thousand men who had stayed behind and become prisoners of war. And probably more than four thousand people had lost their lives in a week of brutal ambushes and fighting in the forests, by the roadside and in the valleys between Srebrenica and the Tuzla district, as the column was trying to reach safety,” writes Bildt in his book!

To add insult to injury he calls all the victims of Srebrenica “prisoners of war”! They were not all prisoners of war and Bildt knows it only too well; over 500 children were massacred there.

And he has the hide to say that Hartmann is “careless with the facts”!

In his book, Bildt employed a great deal of malice and political hypocrisy and called for Croatia’s president Franjo Tudjman to be charged for war crimes with regards to Operations Flash and Storm that liberated Serb occupied regions. Yet, he did not call for Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic to be charged with war crimes, in particular to do with Srebrenica massacres. He mentioned that ICTY had charged the latter two butchers but he himself did not call for that himself.

Bildt has demonstrated that he practices double standards. The darkness of this for humanity is harrowing.

Bildt is about equating the victim with the aggressor in the Balkan War so he and those like him (the hopeless, hypocritical  diplomats) could justify their own actions and inactions that saw so many people killed.  Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

The legacy of Baroness Margaret Thatcher: Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Baroness Margaret Thatcher at Ovcara massacre site, Vukovar, September 1998

2012 Oscars handed Meryl Streep her third leading prize for her brilliant performance as Margaret Thatcher in the movie The Iron Lady. If it was not for Streep’s phenomenal portrayal of Margaret Thatcher as a vulnerable woman, the movie would be classified as boring while historically weak, if not inaccurate. It reeks of emptiness – significant events that created the character of the longest serving British Prime Minister – and a woman at that – and those that she participated in retirement, are missing. It is a great pity for Thatcher’s legacy for human rights, fight against Communism and Socialism and national pride, among others, are second to none on the world’s stage of politics.

Newsclip- 6 February 1992:

It is paradoxical that one of Thatcher’s earliest advisors – in the era that catapulted her into the office of Prime Minister in 1970’s – was a fanatical Communist, Sir Alfred Sherman. Thatcher got rid of Sherman from her inner-circle of advisers in 1982.

From 1993 Sir Alfred Sherman served as policy advisor to self –proclaimed Serb government in Pale (Self-proclaimed Serbian Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina) of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic – both indicted in 1995 for war crimes, both evaded arrest for years hiding in Serbia and currently on trial at the ICTY in the Hague. Sherman had operated from an apartment next door to Karadzic’s office and his advice would have spilled into encouragement, no doubt.

“In 1993 a BBC reporter who had been able to visit the Serb nationalist leader Radovan Karadzic’s forces in Bosnia was surprised when they boasted to him of the ‘British Lord’ who was giving their leader advice. On enquiry he discovered that the ‘Lord’ was but a Knight, Sir Alf no less. At a meeting in the House of Commons the following year organised by the newly-formed and badly misnamed Committee for Peace in the Balkans, and chaired by Alice Mahon, Labour MP, someone (I forget if it was me) mentioned this connection between a right-wing Tory and the Chetnik ethnic cleansing genius. Who should pop up to confirm it but Sir Alf himself, who declared ‘I am an adviser to Dr.Radovan Karadzic, and I am proud to be an adviser to Radovan Karadzic!’

Thatcher continued with her support for the plight of former Yugoslav states of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for independence well into her retirement.

In 1993 she accused Prime Minister John Major and his government for lacking resolve in the Serbian aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We cannot just let things go on like this,” she said. “It is evil. If these governments are not moved by those pictures of death and suffering, if they are not moved by the position of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Europe, 2 million refugees, mass graves being found in Croatia, then they should be.”

I can with pride affirm: Ja sam Zagrebcanka” (I am a Zagreb woman), she said in her speech in Zagreb, Croatia, in September 1998. “President Tudjman rightly understood that there could be no future for Croatia within a Yugoslavia that had become a prison with brutal Serb jailers. The democrats from other parties then cast aside their differences and rallied round their country’s defence. Above all, the Croatian people, young and old, showed a heroism at which I could only marvel. You faced the armed might of the fourth largest army in Europe. You were repeatedly deceived and betrayed. You were deprived of the means to protect your dear ones, your houses, your churches, your land. You were even slandered — accused, as in Vukovar, of the atrocities your enemies themselves committed. But you persevered. You grew steadily stronger. And you triumphed”.

It’s a shame the film The Iron Lady has little of interest to say about either the woman, or the period of British and the world history she shaped and attempted to shape. Had she had her way, had she been listened to, then massacres of thousands would not have occurred in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990’s. Certainly, the Communists and pro-Communists had well infiltrated the corridors of “Western” powers and political maneuvering that enabled the Serb terror to continue – culminating in Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 men and boys in 1995. Ina Vukic, Prof.(Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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