BELGRADE – With selective justice, The Hague Tribunal (ICTY) presented itself as a political court which has not met none of the objectives for which it was founded, writes Serbian Daily “Blic”.
A series of illogical verdicts has made that none of the interested parties is not satisfied.
The release of Naser Oric, commander of the Army of BiH, was maybe the beginning of bad and wrong decisions of the court council. This continued with the release of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina, Mladen Markac and Ivan Cermak, then the release of KLA commander Ramus Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahij Brahimi.
Selective justice and different yardsticks when it comes to war crimes indictees from the republics of the former Yugoslavia, according to interlocutors of “Blic”, have not contributed to calming passions and reconciliation.
To make it more absurd, Oric commented the verdict to Radovan Karadzic in a live broadcast on a national television in the Federation. Gotovina and Markac were welcomed as heroes in Croatia after acquittal, and were welcomed by the highest state officials.
It is the same with Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimij, who were acquitted in 2012. Authorities in Pristina then cheered, saying that “this is the proof that the war was just”. The same thing happened five years earlier when Fatmit Limaj and Isak Musliju had been acquitted.
Aleksandar Popovic from the Center for Regionalism said for “Blic” that the Hague embarrassed itself and that it proved to be a political court. He said that he attended a rally in Pristina at which appeared the prosecutor Geoffrey Nice, who revealed that the Tribunal was the subject of political corruption of the great powers.
“You know, it is impossible that Gotovina is first sentenced to 24 years in prison, and then acquitted. Haradinaj was first released from jail during the trial, he eliminates the key witnesses, even physically, and eventually is released,” said Popov.
He points out that verdicts did not always contribute to achieving justice.
“If the Tribunal was completely impartial, again, every ruling would be a reason of ignition, because the politicians in this region need it,” he said and added that it is not justice to punish a Serb who killed a Muslim or vice versa, but that the only principle should be that every victim regardless of religion and nation deserves justice, and every criminal punishment.
Lawyer Toma Fila said that it is clear from the beginning that this is a political arrangement that had three objectives: to provide justice for the victims by punishing the perpetrators, to punish the perpetrators and to contribute to reconciliation in the region. Fila is clear – none of these objectives has been met.
“Perpetrators were selectively punished as it suited at a given time to the Tribunal, or the great powers, primarily the United States,” said the lawyer.
Fila said that the Hague Tribunal began to break from the inside from the moment they cease to issue indictments, when Slobodan Milosevic died, the man who was a paradigm for everything that happened in the nineties in this region and finally, when the situation in the region calmed down.
“Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic were never brought to the Hague, and Karla del Ponte waited for them to die to say that this was the plan. They had the time, what had they been waiting for? You know, this is all a big farce, victims did not get justice, the culprits were not punished,” concluded Fila.
The series of illogical rulings made that none of the interested parties is satisfied.
According to reactions in the region, primarily in Croatia, acquittal of the SRS leader Vojislav Seselj is just one of many of those who have severely challenged and brought into question the fundamental mission of the Hague Tribunal – the reconciliation of the Balkan people.
The court which was formed to prosecute war criminals and permanent establishment of good neighborly relations and European values in the bloody Balkan soil suddenly itself became the provocateur, instigator and dispenser of political unrest.
How will the most recent decision of the Tribunal reflect on the elusive peace in the region, is not mentioned in the reasons for the decision to acquit Seselj, but neither in the reasons for the rulings for much larger figures: Ante Gotovina, Mladen Markac, Naser Oric and Ramus Haradinaj.
It was these proceedings international public expected the most of, but, with some trick, all of them walked out of ICTY as winners. Although the evidence of their guilt the world followed live, acquittals have become a kind of example of turning heads and giving up the truth.
These days, for the fifth time, the Tribunal managed to completely make senseless its own existence, saying that there are actually no guilty ones among the strongest links of all the wars in this region. Seselj himself has repeatedly stated that he will be the one to turn the lights off at the Tribunal, whose lamp after such decisions will apparently quickly burn itself.
On the other hand, the conviction of Radovan Karadzic, which has met the approval of the majority of the world public, has launched speculation about Hague political games. Serbs must be declared as a genocidal nation.
This is supported by the statistics according to which Serbian citizens have so far been convicted for a total of more 1200 years in prison.
So, for the first twenty years of existence of the Tribunal 161 persons were indicted, of which 110 Serbs, 34 Croats, 9 Bosniaks, 7 Albanians and one Macedonian. Serbs were imposed with the largest number of sentences – 62, followed by Croats, with one third less convicted.
All this also had an impact on undermining the foundations of the policy of reconciliation in the region because it led to the strengthening of extremist right-wing parties and groups which in the coming period can be a real danger because of backward beliefs and dangerous ideologies.
Seselj’s release was not welcomed by any Serbian statesman nor a celebration was organized in the cities of Serbia.
This, however, was not the case with statesmen in the region, who are still proud of the delusional decisions made by the Hague. Is the return of one Seselj potentially more dangerous for the Balkans then officials who, with highest honors, welcome Oric, Haradinaj, Gotovina and Markac, history will show. Tribunal skipped to explain this in the reasoning of the verdicts.
Karla would have sentenced KLA
Former prosecutor and sort of speak the symbol of the Hague Tribunal Carla del Ponte recently said that she would return to the Hague to represent the indictment against the so-called “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA/UCK) leaders.
“Especially now when I am in the United Nations Commission for Syria. I have always believed that the victims need justice,” said Carla del Ponte.
James Ker Lindsay: The Tribunal failed
The Hague did not work well. I think that many observers believe that the Hague Tribunal failed on many levels. Viewed from a British perspective, perhaps the most egregious aspect of the whole process is the amount of time taken for each trial. It is absolutely unbelievable that these cases needed so many years to be completed. I understand the complexity of the situation, but it is certainly inexcusable that people who worked on them needed so much time. I believe that court verdicts will certainly play no positive role in promoting reconciliation. Moreover, everything done only brought bitterness to all parties.
There is a lot of anger in Serbia in what people see as an anti-Serb bias of the court. The Court simply had not earned respect in the eyes of the public. In the meantime, in other parts of the region there is anger that the Court has spoiled the image of their respective countries.
I know that many in Croatia, Bosna and Kosovo find outrageous that the finger of guilt is pointed at their military commanders and political leaders. The fact that many of these commanders – such as Gotovina, Haradinaj and Oric – were later acquitted is only an argument for them that they don’t deserve condemnation and did not need to be brought before the Hague Tribunal. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to see how the Court has laid any foundation for reconciliation.
Nuremberg Trials against the Hague
Adviser to the President Tomislav Nikolic, Oliver Antic, in a book “From Nuremberg to the Hague, the lessons of history”, explains that the Hague Tribunal is “the key instrument” for forging false history, through which the international community is trying to minimize the crimes of the Second World War, as well as to mitigate the significance of the Nuremberg process.
“One is also trying to minimize the significance of the fact that Russia was the key force that defeated Nazism and fascism, and that the Serbian people have given their contribution in it,” said Antic.
In Nuremberg process the ideology of Nazism and Fascism was on trial, and that is the essential difference between it and the ICTY. According to him, the thesis advocated in the international community that the Nuremberg process is the predecessor of the Hague Tribunal is dangerous.