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(E) Political Bias in Hague?
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  02/27/2002 | Politics | Unrated
(E) Political Bias in Hague?
My latest item on, timed for this congressional thing on Thursday. More should be made of the Veritas link; that's the sort of thing that would excites media/politicos (at least in the UK):'s London Columnist, Brian Gallagher 
The Hague Office of the Prosecutor and the Serbian Organization 'Veritas': Political Bias? 
By Brian Gallagher 25/2/02 
American politicians and policy-makers are correct to 
be concerned that the future prosecutors of the 
International Criminal Court (ICC) may operate on 
political lines against the United States. There is 
evidence that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of 
the International Criminal Tribunal for the former 
Yugoslavia (ICTY) has taken a political view in 
support of Serbian expansionist ideas in the case of 
Croatian General Ante Gotovina. Furthermore, these 
political views appear to have been incorporated in 
the Ante Gotovina indictment itself. The nature of 
these views contradict international law, UN 
resolutions and indeed the OTP’s own Milosevic Croatia 
On 2 March 2000, OTP Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt 
wrote a “Letter of Endorsement” to the Belgrade based 
Serbian organisation Veritas. This letter is on 
display at the Veritas website at 
Click under ‘References’ and then under ‘ICTY’ to see 
Veritas claims to be an NGO interested in presenting 
evidence on crimes against Serbs. However, by its 
website and the statements of its head, Savo Strbac, 
it is clear that Veritas has a political agenda to 
restore the illegal structure of the Republic of Serb 
Krajina ('RSK'). By giving this group a reference, 
the OTP is effectively endorsing such political views 
- views that contradict the international law s that 
the OTP is supposedly there to enforce and observe. 
The 'RSK' was established in 1991 by the invasion and 
ethnic cleansing of one third o f Croatia by Serbia, 
which involved monstrous crimes against humanity 
including the destruction of Vukovar, the ethnic 
cleansing of over 170,000 non Serbs and mass slaughter 
of civilians - over 15,000. The Milosevic indictment 
correctly describes all this as a ‘Criminal 
Enterprise’. Furthermore, UN resolutions and the 
Milosevic indictment refer to the territories of ‘RSK’ 
as “Occupied Territory”. 
The Veritas website homepage show s the ‘borders’ of 
this criminal enterprise, clearly demonstrating their 
political acceptance of the horrifying ‘’RSK' state. 
Indeed, within the website we see references to the 
“territory of RSK'” . It describes itself as having 
been established by “RSK citizens”. Demonstrably, 
this group has a political agenda and viewpoint in 
addition to any claim to be a documentation centre for 
crimes against Serbs. 
In the glowing reference by the OTP’s Mr Blewitt he 
says of Mr Strbac that he has “assisted and still 
assists” the OTP in “a professional, serious and 
responsible manner by collecting information about 
certain events which occurred during the period 
1990-1995” in Croatia. 
Who is this Savo Strbac that Mr Blewitt speaks of so 
highly? It appears that Mr Strbac was an official of 
the criminal enterprise known as the ‘'RSK'’ - as 
defined in the Milosevic Croatia indictment - and very 
prone to ‘Greater Serbia’ rhetoric. A New York Times 
report of 4 December 1994, identifying him as an 
official of the ‘RSK'’ quotes him as saying, “Our wish 
is to live with the other Serbs of the former 
An Agence France Presse report dated March 6 1995 
describing him as ‘Government Secretary’ of the ‘RSK' 
quotes him as saying “Our final goal is union with 
other Serbs (in Bosnia and the Republic of Serbia).” 
Quite the ‘Greater Serbia’ enthusiast. This is the 
sort of chap the OTP considers appropriate to gather 
evidence from, to give references to and to work with, 
in order to prosecute Croats; a former official of a 
criminal enterprise occupying Croatia and Greater 
Serbia enthusiast. It is difficult to believe this is 
for real. 
But it is. And it gets worse. 
The reference the OTP gave states that they have been 
working in “successful co-operation” with Veritas 
since 1994. The Veritas website refers to Mr Strbac 
authoring a Veritas book published in 1994/5. Mr 
Strbac was working with Veritas whilst being an 
official of the ‘RSK'. So even during the Serbian 
occupation, when crimes were still being committed 
against the few remaining Croats in the occupied 
areas, and while ‘RSK' forces were napalming and 
cluster bombing the UN safe area of Bihac in 
Bosnia-Hercegovina, the OTP was happily dealing with 
an organisation with links to the ‘RSK'. 
Quite apart from the questions thus raised of the 
reliability of ‘evidence’ that has been gathered from 
Veritas by the OTP, by giving g a reference to raise 
funds for this organisation, the OTP is clearly 
endorsing both Mr Strbac’s and Veritas’s political 
views. ‘Conflict of Interest’ barely begins to 
describe all this. 
And it gets worse still. It appears that the OTP has 
incorporated Mr Strbac’s political views into the 
Gotovina indictment. 
ICTY indictments carry background histories to events. 
The Milosevic Croatia indictment goes into much 
detail of how the ‘RSK' was created; invasion, 
massacres, Vukovar etc. It refers to Serb held areas 
as “occupied territory” as per UN resolutions. 
The Gotovina indictment fails to mention how the 
‘'RSK'’ was created. It also does not refer to 
‘occupied territory’ . Instead it outrageously 
confers legitimacy on the ‘'RSK'’ by 
claiming that it had “officially declared 
independence”. The OTP clearly has no respect for 
the internationally recognised borders of Croatia. Or 
anywhere else, presumably. It would appear that you 
can conquer, ethnically cleanse and occupy parts of 
other countries. Then declare independence in the 
areas you have cleansed of your victims - and the very 
people who are supposed to investigate and punish your 
behaviour will consider it official! So much for 
deterring war crimes. The implications of the OTP’s 
behaviour for future ICC investigations are obvious. 
Needless, to say, Mr Strbac is delighted by all this. 
Indeed, he gave an interview to a Serbian newspaper, 
where he stated quite clearly that the ICTY has 
recognised the ‘RSK' as a state, and considers the 
indictment a basis for the re-establishment of the 
‘'RSK'’. His associates in the OTP have not disagreed 
with him. 
It’s worth mentioning just how close the relationship 
between Mr Strbac and the OTP is. Before the 
indictments of Croatian Generals were officially 
revealed, one Croatian newspaper claimed that three 
generals were indicted. Mr Strbac informed Serbian 
radio station B92 that two of the names were correct 
and were in relation to ‘Operation Storm’ and ‘Medak 
Pocket’ operations. Strbac, who often boasts of his 
work with the OTP, was proved correct - demonstrating 
just how involved this Serb expansionist is with the 
work of the OTP. 
Given Mr Strbac’s close involvement with the OTP, 
given his opinions and background and the fact that 
the OTP has effectively endorsed his outspoken Serbian 
expansionist politics, it is difficult to see how 
General Gotovina can get a fair trial at the Hague. 
The same may well apply to General Ademi, the other 
Croatian Army General indicted by the Hague tribunal 
for other alleged crimes against Serbs. 
Can one imagine the future ICC investigating the US 
war on terror, whilst working closely with, let us say 
, a former ‘official’ of The Taliban who wishes to 
restore the Taliban to power, in prosecuting American 
The Gotovina indictment demonstrates that it is not 
too far fetched for a future ICC prosecutor to 
consider such a course. 
The OTP, in the case of Ante Gotovina, is clearly 
politically biased in favour of the Serbs. Truly 
Orwellian in that it says something different in 
relation to Milosevic. Perhaps there is some strange 
pro-Serb faction at work at the ICTY? Or more 
likely, in a political effort to show that the old lie 
of “All sides are equally guilty” is true, desperate 
economies with the truth and misjudged alliances have 
been made. Many in the UN and EU have never forgiven 
the United States for its role in stopping the 
‘Greater Serbia’ project. It is well known that the 
United States assisted Croatia in ‘Operation Storm’. 
Who knows what pressures have been exerted on the OTP? 
The Veritas/OTP links must be fully examined. Some 
form of enquiry is needed. Perhaps by the US Congress? 
Such an enquiry can ask why so few investigations 
have been conducted into Serb crimes in Croatia, as 
well as if Mr Strbac has provided any infromation 
about ‘RSK’ crimes against Croats to the OTP. It can 
also ask why the indictment makes no mention of the 
fact that it was Milosevic and the ‘RSK’ leadership 
that evacuated the ‘RSK' of its Serbs as detailed by 
OTP spokesperson - and possible Gotovina defence 
witness - Florence Hartmann in her 1999 book on 
The whole business is very disquieting. And anyone 
with an interest in such issues should be concerned, 
not just the United States. 
(c) Brian Gallagher 
Mike Baresic is an unsung hero. He has clobbering various types on the Justwatch board for a while now, esp on the Gotovina indictment. They seem to be giving up now, the Hartmann revelations being the killer blow I guess. One Serbian suppoter is still trying, see how Mike deals with him below. 
What is apparent from the discussions on this board is that Serb supporters in particular are quite afraid of the facts of Milosevic & co ordering out the 'Krajina Serbs'. Mike's critic here has never (so far) admitted it, and tries to divert attention. 
It destroys their only myth of victimhood in the war. 
So in my view it should be hammered on mercilessly. And we have the perfect evidence of it: Hague Prosecutor spokeswoman Florence Hartmann's book. Should always mention that! 
The Hartmann thing can only rattle the Hague as well, and their particlular supporters. 
Tue, 26 Feb 2002 09:41:23 EST 
Reply-To: International Justice Watch Discussion List 
Sender: International Justice Watch Discussion List 
From: Mike Baresic < 
Subject: Re: Florence Hartmann: Possible Gotovina Defence Witness? 
> Ivankovic's book tells the story of how, unlike Cervenka, 
> Gotovina had propsed a modal 'Storm', which in the end was 
> implemented: a simultaneous attack on all sectors of the 
> occupied territory in which the Serbian population would be 
> left with free corridors to escape, alledgedly, exclusively 
> out of humane reasons: to avoid having unnecessary victims." 

> Gotovina and others incorporated ethnic cleansing as part 
> of Operation Storm. The Serbs couldn't flee anyway they wanted to, 
> but only on pre-planned, designated routes. The ethnic cleansing 
> during Operation Storm wasn't ad-hoc, it was pre-meditated by 
> Gotovina and others. 

This is the best you can do? If this is the best argument that Gotovina's 
accusers have, then his indictment is truly a travesty. Moreover, you fail 
to even mention the fact that the RSK leadership ordered a total evacutation, 
or that Hartmann contends it was part of Milosevic's plan to "ethnically 
cleanse" the Serb population. 
Leaving corridors open is nothing new in military planning. Indeed, it is 
incorporated into most NATO military campaigns as a means of encouraging the 
opposing enemy military to give up. Surrounding the enemy military and not 
giving it the opportunity to escape only encourages that military to continue 
to fight, and thus the risk of loss of life is increased to both sides. 
In "Putting the Hague Court on Trial," [posted to the list 31 August 2001] 
David Rivkin and Lee Casey explain this best: 
<<<However, from start to finish, Operation Storm was executed as if it were 
drawn from NATO's best playbook: a lightning offensive using highly mobile 
ground forces, heavy firepower, and air support, designed to be decisive. It 
was moreover carried out in a way that permitted the local civilian 
population to leave the combat zone, which is the reason there was civilian 
flight. The Croats prevailed in just 72 hours, with minimal casualties on 
both sides. Until now, such campaigns have been considered fully consistent 
with the laws of war, even if significant civilian dislocations were 
Simply put, if the decisive use of overwhelming military force is to be 
criminalized, largely on the grounds that it may prompt civilians to flee the 
fighting, then it will not be long before NATO officers and officials are in 
the dock. Modern wars are rarely fought in the desert (the Gulf War being the 
exception rather than the rule), and civilian casualties and refugees are 
inevitable in any conflict -- even one, such as NATO's 1999 air campaign 
against Yugoslavia, where the most sophisticated "smart" munitions are used. 
Indeed, even Desert Storm produced civilian casualties and refugees in Kuwait 
and Iraq. 
The traditional laws of war acknowledged these realities, providing that 
civilians not be purposefully targeted, and that "collateral damage" to 
noncombatants and their property not be disproportionate to the military 
goals to be achieved. The premise of Gen. Gotovina's indictment, however, is 
that any use of overwhelming force -- since civilian casualties and 
population flight are clearly foreseeable -- should be considered illegal. 
Such a "zero risk" approach would effectively proscribe any decisive use of 
force, while perhaps allowing its limited employment as an adjunct of 
diplomatic maneuvers. 
Let's be clear about this. If the Hague prosecutors want to outlaw war, then 
they should be upfront about it and a debate could be had by all. One thing 
that should be considered in this debate is that the rule of law effectively 
proposed by Gen. Gotovina's indictment would, among other things, have 
criminalized NATO's "forward defense" strategy, which was used to keep the 
peace in Europe until the Soviet Union's collapse. Under forward defense, 
NATO would have engaged Warsaw Pact forces in the highly urbanized areas of 
West Germany. 
NATO planners knew full well that this battle plan would have produced 
astronomical casualties, and horrific refugee flows. In fact, how to move 
NATO reinforcements to the front, when all of the roads were expected to be 
clogged by fleeing civilians, was always considered one of the more difficult 
questions for NATO's operational planners. 
The use of overwhelming force in conventional conflicts remains a central 
feature of military doctrine among the Western countries with serious armies 
(the United States, Germany, Britain, France and not many others). Indeed, 
the so-called "Powell Doctrine," named for U.S. Secretary of State Colin 
Powell when he was chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in the late 
1980s, holds that U.S. service personnel should be risked only when there are 
clear objectives to a military operation (including an "exit strategy") and 
overwhelming force can be brought to bear to ensure a quick victory.>>> 
Thus, Daniel, your last-gasp effort to declare Operation Storm an "ethnic 
cleansing" campaign simply because its planners allowed for escape routes 
flies in the face of established NATO military doctrine. Moreover, you 
totally ignore the fact that the Serb civilians fled en masse not because of 
the fact that an escape route was open, but because of the fact that the Serb 
leadership had ordered a total evacuation of the so-called "Krajina" [which 
is well established by the book, "Knin Fell in Belgrade," by Sonja Biserko, 
and by Florence Hartmann]. You ignore addressing this issue because you know 
the truth: the Serb leadership cleansed its own population. 
Again, if you are concerned about justice for the Serbs of so-called 
"Krajina," don't you want to see the Milosevic indictment amended to include 
the deportation of Serbs from Croatia? 
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