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NO 121-122

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 121-122 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 121-122

July - August 2008


Radovan Karadzic in The Hague


We condemn all crimes and are proud of having committed them
Viktor Ivancic

By Vojin Dimitrijevic

After the arrest of Radovan Karadzic - made with too much of superfluous caution but under the law that cannot but questioned - protests against anyone having anything to do with disclosing the harmless indentity of the so-called Dr. Dragan Dabic begun in Serbia, a wonderland. The very authorized Minister of the Interior, whose complex relationship with Dabic dates back at the time when the later was still Karadzic, comes from the SPS - the party the leader of which had broked friendly relations with the SDS, the Bosnian Serbs' party helmed by Karadzic. The Minister promply announced that his authorized Ministry had nothing to do with the said deprivation of liberty and that the arrest had been made by some other security forces critics would have called "runaway" in some other context. After the cooperation with the SDS was broken because Karadzic had changed his mind about the already signed Vance-Owen peace plan and the ridicule Slobodan Milosevic, Dobrica Cosic and the friendly Greek Prime Minister, Konstantin Micotakis, were exposed to in Pale, a part of Serbia's constructive opposition at the time (the Democratic Party of Serbia in the first place) felt totally disappointed in Milosevic and embraced Karadzic - and many of chronically confused leaders of Serbs in diaspora followed in their footsteps. A couple of years later the plan resurrected as the Dayton Accord laying down the obligation of cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Ever since for many Serbs in diaspora Karadzic has been a paradigm of the struggle for Serbhood and against all the threats looming over it - from Turks, through the US and Mason, to Vatikan (if I were Corax I would have added Hagar the Terrible to the list). That's why reactions to his arrest was much stronger in Serbia than in Republika Srpska where Karadzic used to be a president and unquestionable leader. And yet, the reaction was that strong as expected from Karadzic's once comrades in arms but from very young people without even second-hand knowledge about developments in Bosnia in 1991-95 and ready to start a fight at stadiums, outside embassies and wherever. By the way, at the time President Karadzic and his war commander Ratko Mladic were at the peak of power and "liberation endeavor" there was neither first-hand nor second-hand knowledge. All the parents of today's protesters could have learned from Serbia's major broadcasters and newspapers was that Karadzic and Mladic's troops were on the defensive against superior non-Serb armies, that Sarajevo had never been under siege (some believe that to this very day) and that concentration camps in Omarska and Keraterm were nothing but fabrications - and this was even illustrated by photos taken from the wrong side of the barbed wire fence.

All those circumstances brought about collective memory that blocks public debate about real issues. The most important issue of all is the one of what really happened in Bosnia in the first years of the war and what was the role of Radovan Karadzic. Instead we are having quite different topinc on the public agenda - and that hardly benefits mental health in this region.

To start with, the general public is kept in the dark about a period in 1992. That was the time when Prijedor and other towns were "liberated," Serb headquarters established, aforementioned concentration camps and many others set up, the time of the endeavor to expel all Muslims and Croats from those territories and tragicomic rasict regulations whereby non-Serbs were forbidden to swim in rivers or take walks in main streets, the time when mosques were toppled down, snipers shot at passersby in Sarajevo, etc. One only needs to recall that time: the features about all those events - that, of course, never took place in Serbia - were so monstrous that many outside Serbia couldn't believed their eyes and ears that all the pledges made in the aftermath of the World War II that such attrocities would never happen again, at least not in Europe, melted into thin air. Many proofs had to be given provided to conscientious reporters (rather than Serb-haters) to make them believe that all those "incidents" were not products of some bizarre coincident but of a deliberate policy. They started believing when it turned out that the same method by which various town in Bosnia-Herzegovina were occupied and cleansed was not just coincidental and could not be ascribed to sadism of all sorts of commanders and fury of ordinary troopers. This is when Karadzic and others from the Serb leadership in Bosnia stepped onto the scene - in their public addresses they made no bones about their plan to occupy and cleanse inasmuch as possible territory, revenge Kosovo, kill all converts to Islam, etc.

It goes without saying frustrated national and religious leaders, pathological types and the scum of the earth emerged on all sides involved in ex-Yugoslav wars. But those were our psychopats and our scum. They couldn't have been tried in our courts. When the world realized it had missed the opportunity to prevent Yugoslav conflict or at least civilize it through preventive measures the wheel of history turned another round - and crushed Serbs first. Almost half a century after Nurenberg trials of arch criminals of the Nazi Germany, after many a vain attempt, in 1993 the first international criminal court for the accused of genocide, wars against humanity and war crimes was established as the aforementioned ICTY (the people over here persistently call the tribunal in The Hague despite the fact that it is not the only tribunal located in The Hague). It served as a model for a similar tribunal for Rwanda (embarrasing the UN even more) and for the permanent International Criminal Court in 1998. Mocked at in the beginning, the ICTY was eventually proclaimed in Serbia and Croatia the most dangerous and hostile institution, a Moloch feeding on innocent Serbs and Croats.

Aversion towards the ICTY has not actually changed either in Serbia or in Croatia but foreign policy interests and younger generations unwilling to be deprived forever for the sake of some decrepit heroes in disguise brought about a pragmatic change in the perception of the great majority of people - they now take that their countries should "cooperate" with the ICTY. And yet, the term "cooperation" has a special meaning in this region: it designates not a wish to have real culprits punished by courts of law and thus prevent new crimes, assert the truth and see justice done, but feeding of Moloch or human sacrifice offered to the malevolent deity called "the international community." Since they have to, it matters not why those accused are being sent to the pretrial unit in Sheveningen; by the best scenario they should give themsleves up and thus sacrifice themselves without even a hint of a guilty plea. Moreover, the Serbian government used to ask for a "two-way" cooperation though it has never bothered to explain the meaning of the term.

Such attitude towards the ICTY should be taken into account regardless of many shortcomings and mistakes of its Prosecution and even judges. It gives rise to a paradox that is manifested in the Karadzic case as well: the tribunal in The Hague is unjust, illegal, anti-Serb, biased, corrupted and incapable but it is still the place where something can be proved and demonstrated.

Notwithstanding deeper (para-police) motives for his action - your author knows little about and, therefore, would not analyze - Dr. Vojislav Seselj, professor at the Belgrade University, member of the Writers' Society of Serbia, still the President of the Serbian Radical Party and former Vice-Premier, surrendered to the Tribunal in late February 2003 on the eve of the assassination of Zoran Djindjic. He gave himself up though he didn't have to and though he was not faced with arrest. He gave himself up, as he put it, to smash this quasi-judicial creation and disclose its operation. Disclose to whom? Apparently to the world's fair public and not only to his supporters at home, who anyway think the worst about the ICTY. Despite the fact that he being kept in detention for too long, he was granted numerous concessions by the Tribunal and the Trial Chamber and all that at the expense of taxpayers for the RTS broadcasting his trial almost every evening. Anyone watching his defense for the first time gets the impression that he monkeys about with judges - and does it in the best Serb tradition like, say, Duke Drasko, Kanjos Macedonovic and David Strbac. The said viewer is left under the impression that he profits on foreigners' naivete, their ingorance of Serb mentality and inexperience in international proceedings. How possibly can Dr. Seselj and the Serb people profit from the "blow job" the former is getting in The Hague apart from exhilarating some Serb Radicals listening to his statements over and over and recording them on their mobiles? And yet - believe me or not - he and his team take all this produces the right effect and, therefore, the hated and corrupted court would have to set him free.

Slobodan Milosevic did not leave for The Hague by his own free will but has neverthless skillfuly profited from the Tribunal's shortcomings. The same as Seselj later on, he was defending himself and turned the courtroom into the rostrum from which he kept addressing his followers in Serbia and beyond - the audience that dedicatedly watched broadcasts from The Hague. Those broadcasts were financed in the naive belief that people watch TV in the same way as judges follow proceedings in a courtroom (I would say now that some funders have had different, foxier plans). Like Tito long before him, Seselj would not recognize the court and was not looking forward to acquital, but wanted to address the people. And - he was not wrong: his popularity, spiralled down after October 5, 2000, soared in Serbia after three months of the trial only. Of course, the Prosecution played into his hand by turning the proceedings upside down and bringing in all sorts of witnesses from terrified Albanian farmers, through Bakali to Radomir Tanic. By brutal play of the fate he died without unsentenced and - if that's what he wanted in the first place - showed that Sheveningen was the place of dying for the accused. It remains to be seen whether this will secure him the title of a hero in the Serbian history.

The attitude of other indicted Serbs towards the ICTY is the one of any ordinary man in the dock. They see it as the institution of "a ruling class," capricious, unpredictable, formalistic, prone to succumb to political pressure but an institution in which you stand some chance depending on the skill of your lawyer. They do not perceive themselves as heroes and do not bank on future generations.

All except Karadzic. He is untypical. Indeed, even as a quack he exceeds the original. While "undercover" he was waving a piece of lead over the heads of his patients, whereas until some half a dozen years ago he used to hypnotize an entire nation and many a statesman, general and reporter with his mumbo-jumbos. It's only logical that now he prepares his exhibition by Milosevic's and Seselj's model. He will defend himself and his strategy is planned by the team composed of an ex-judge, known for sentencing the accused by the number of children they had, and a lawyer who pleaded for death sentence for his client - a foreigner, of course - despite the fact that such punishment was not provided under the law.
Koncepcija odbrane se, osim što Karadžicu treba da obezbedi govornicu (a da se ne zna da li gledaoci mogu da izdrže i treci prenos iz Haga), svodi na to da se nikako ne raspravlja o tacnosti navoda optužnice, nego o sasvim drugim stvarima. Jedna od njih je nacin na koji su americki izaslanik Ricard Holbruk i drugi posrednici prilikom kreiranja Dejtonskog sporazuma 1995. godine, privoleli Karadžica da se odrekne predsednickog položaja u RS i povuce iz javnog politickog života. Pošto malo ko ima velikih iluzija o Holbruku (koji se divio Miloševicu više no Karadžicu), nije nemoguce da su on i drugi ubedivali Karadžica da odstupi dajuci mu razna obecanja, ukljucujuci i to da nikad nece dopreti pred Haški tribunal. Svako, medutim, može da obeca samo ono što stvarno može da uradi: bolje reci, niko razuman ne veruje u obecanja koja poticu od coveka koji nema moci da ih ispuni. Holbruk nije bio predsednik ni ministar vojske ili inostranih poslova SAD. Cak i da je bio, mogao je samo da se zarekne da se organi SAD nece angažovati u Karadžicevom hapšenju i predaji Tribunalu (što je izgleda i "ispoštovano"), ali nije mogao (ili nije uspeo) da ukine optužnicu protiv njega. Ionako pretresno vece Tribunala, kao i svaki sud, postupa prema optužnici pa sudije Karadžicu nisu mogle ništa staviti u izgled, sem da mu na samom pretresu gledaju kroz prste. Cemu onda služi rasprava pred Tribunalom o tome šta je Holbruk, ili bilo ko drugi, pre 13 godina zajemcio Karadžicu? Mogu li sudije i tužilac sada reci "pata karte" i obustaviti sudenje?

Apart from providing Karadzic a rostrum the concept of his defense is the one of discussing anything else but accuracy of the counts of his indictment. ***


NO 121-122

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