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(E) U.N. SPIRIT AT SREBRENICA LIVES ON AT THE HAGUE
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/6/2004 | Politics | Unrated
(E) U.N. SPIRIT AT SREBRENICA LIVES ON AT THE HAGUE

 

VIEWPOINT FROM LONDON

THE U.N. SPIRIT AT SREBRENICA LIVES ON AT THE HAGUE

by Brian Gallagher

The Croatian Herald, Australia No. 1005 - 05.03.04

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague has often colluded with
Serbian interests in much the same way UN personnel
did throughout the wars in the former Yugoslavia. This
is obscured by Serbian complaints that the Tribunal is
biased against them. Not only have they openly
provided intelligence to the Serbs, they have not
investigated major Serbian war crimes suspects in
relation to crimes in Croatia. This is no doubt due to
a political effort by the Prosecutor's office to
revise and distort history to play down Serbian
aggression and show that "all sides are equally
guilty".

The attitude of the Office of the Prosecutor can be
clearly seen by their views on Srebrenica. The UN has
been condemned and held responsible by many for the
slaughter of thousands of Bosnian men and boys.
Indeed, the Milosevic trial itself has seen testimony
damning the UN role at Srebrenica.

One would think then that UN personnel would be
investigated for their involvement in war crimes by
the Hague Prosecutor. Not a bit of it. On the
contrary, the Prosecutor seems to think the UN's role
was an innocent one. In 2000, the pro-prosecutor
Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) wrote that
a group called the 'Mothers of Srebrenica and
Podrinje' had - quite reasonably - asked the
Prosecutor to investigate UN officials such as former
Secretary-General Boutros-Boutros Ghali for complicity
in the massacre at Srebrenica. Deputy Prosecutor
Graham Blewitt had this to say: "Some common sense has
to be exercised here." He elaborated further, "To
suggest the UN in its role as peacemaker in the former
Yugoslavia, and particularly in Bosnia, had motives
which would amount to crimes is unrealistic."

A prosecution witness in the Milosevic trial, former
Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, Diego Arria, has
claimed that UN personnel - including Boutros-Boutros
Ghali - deliberately withheld intelligence from the
security council. This may have prevented action to
save lives. Arria had warned of a massacre at
Srebrenica; he was ignored. He has called this the
biggest cover-up in UN history. Will Graham Blewitt
now start an investigation? I suspect not. UN
officials will breathe easy.

The Office of the Prosecutor has often provided
intelligence on their investigations to the Serbs - no
doubt helping suspects elude justice. The Hague
Prosecutor used to produce sealed indictments -
meaning suspects could be arrested by surprise. In
2001, IWPR reported that the Hague Prosecutor handed
over sealed indictments to the Bosnian Serb leadership
in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They in turn promptly handed
these indictments to the suspects, without arresting
them. The suspects were thus alerted to the fact they
were being hunted, and would no doubt adopt a low
profile.

Deputy Prosecutor Blewitt's comments on the matter
seemed more geared to exonerating Bosnian Serb leaders
of blame for this leak. "I do not believe the
government did it intentionally. The responsibility is
on an individual in the government who wanted to slow
down justice" he said.

The Bosnian Serb leadership have never been supportive
of the Tribunal. What possessed the Office of the
Prosecutor to hand over such sensitive material? And
why did Blewitt minimize the responsibility of the
Bosnian Serb leadership?

Had the indictments been leaked by the Office of the
Prosecutor there would have been an outcry. But as
they were leaked by the Bosnian Serbs - having been
given them officially by the Prosecutor - there was no
such outcry.

In 2003, The UK's Spectator magazine criticised Hague
Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte for handing over
intelligence on the whereabouts of Radovan Karadzic to
the Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. The
Spectator pointed out that Djukanovic was under
investigation by Italian judges for directing a
cigarette-smuggling ring and was facing an
OSCE/Council of Europe investigation for allegedly
nobbling a prosecution of alleged human traffickers
high in government.

Another charmer that Del Ponte handed intelligence to
was assassinated Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindic,
this time on Ratko Mladic. Djindic was lauded in the
West for being a democrat and so on. In reality he was
a Greater Serbia enthusiast and admirer of Radovan
Karadzic. Not really the sort of person a prosecutor
should give such intelligence to. Del Ponte claimed
that Djindic told her he was going to hand over
Mladic. She actually believed this. Given that he had
not already done so and that in the supposed crackdown
that followed his death Mladic was not arrested, it
seems that Djindic and his 'reformers' took Del Ponte
for quite a ride. Does the Hague Prosecutor still have
any intelligence the Serbs don't know?

Then we have Savo Strbac and his 'Veritas'
organisation - ostensibly an organisation providing
information on the alleged wrongs to Serbs by Croats.
Strbac and Veritas work closely with the Hague
Prosecutor in order to prosecute Croats. This beggars
belief. Strbac is an unapologetic believer in a
Greater Serbia. His Veritas website -
www.veritas.org.yu - carries Greater Serbia imagery on
its homepage.

He was a senior official in the occupation 'Republika
Srpska Krajina' (RSK) structure in Croatia between
1991-5. The RSK was set up on the back of ethnic
cleansing and mass murder - including the destruction
of Vukovar. It actively persecuted Croats. It was part
of the "criminal enterprise" as related in the Hague's
own Milosevic indictment. The Prosecutor has been
working with Veritas since 1994 - when Veritas
operated from occupied Croat territory. All
investigations into Croats are compromised by Strbac's
involvement.

Strbac himself was named in the Milosevic trial by a
prosecution witness as head of a bodies exchange
commission. During one exchange of bodies with Bosnia
six of the dead the Serbs handed over were murdered
for this purpose. It was stated that the commission
was fully aware of this.

Yet Strbac and his organisation are considered
perfectly suitable by the Prosecutor to assist in
prosecuting Croats.

Its gets worse. The Prosecutor gave Strbac a 'Letter
of Endorsement' to help raise funds for his
organisation, which he proudly displays on his
website. That says it all.

Serbs complain they are disproportionately targeted by
the Prosecutor. In reality, not enough Serb war
criminals have been indicted. The majority of Serbian
war crimes in Croatia have not been investigated
properly - if at all. How is it that Yugoslav Chief of
Staff General Zivota Panic, who oversaw the
destruction of Vukovar and the slaughter of Eastern
Slavonia for months was left to live out his final
years in peace, recently dying in his bed, undisturbed
by Carla del Ponte?

In contrast, Croatian Chief of Staff Bobetko died in
his bed with a dubious indictment for an alleged
massacre that was on a vastly smaller scale than
Panic's atrocities.

Clearly, the prosecutor is not operating on the basis
of charging those responsible for the worst crimes.
She must therefore be operating on a political basis -
the UN one of "all sides are equally guilty".

When one considers all this, much becomes clear. We
see that the UN policies in former Yugoslavia of
colluding with Serbs have been carried over to the
Hague Prosecutor. The result of all this is that those
Serbs responsible for slaughtering thousands in
Croatia, destroying cities and ethnically cleansing
one third of the country have got away with it. Who,
exactly, is demanding the bringing to book of all
those - possibly thousands of - Serbs responsible for
what happened to Croats? No-one. Certainly not the
Hague Prosecutor.

The UN spirit at Srebrenica lives on.


© Brian Gallagher

My 'Viewpoint from London' column appears fortnightly
in the Australian 'Croatian Herald' and thereafter atwww.croatiafocus.com


 

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