|(E) Political Bias in Hague?
|By Nenad N. Bach |
(E) Political Bias in Hague?
My latest item on www.AnteGotovina.com, 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):
AnteGotovina.com'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 www.veritas.org.yu.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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