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(E) Why Doesn't the Hague Tribunal allow Croats Pre-Trial Release
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/6/2002 | Politics | Unrated
(E) Why Doesn't the Hague Tribunal allow Croats Pre-Trial Release
My thanks again to Mike Baresic for the following item, which has been 
circulated in Croatian, but this is an English version 
December 20, 2001 
Why Doesn't the Hague Tribunal allow Croats Pre-Trial Release? 
By Marko Baresic 
Zagreb-Even though they can sometimes be deceptive, statistics most often 
reveal the criteria under which certain institutions operate. With a very 
simple comparison of facts about individuals whom the ICTY has granted 
pre-trial release, one arrives at some very perplexing conclusions. 
Specifically, the tribunal has thus far allowed Serbs and Bosniaks to defend 
themselves while on pre-trial release, but not a single Croat. Is this 
merely a coincidence or are these facts the result of some unwritten 
(unwritten because it would clearly be ethnic discrimination), but 
nevertheless very real practice? In order to avoid speculation, here's what 
the facts are. 
The Hague tribunal allowed pre-trial release for Biljana Plavsic, the former 
president of Republika Srpska and a close associate of Radovan Karadzic. She 
voluntarily surrendered and is now in Belgrade until the beginning of her 
trial. The Serbian government gave guarantees that she would return to the 
Hague and now, instead of a Hague cell, she can choose whether to spend the 
winter holidays in Kopaonik or someplace else. 
Also on pre-trial release is Pavle Strugar, an officer of the former JNA who 
in 1991 led the assault on Dubrovnik. He was released on almost an express 
basis, to the chagrin of the people of Dubrovnik who cannot forget that time 
when forces under Strugar's command pillaged the outskirts of Dubrovnik, and 
the town itself and its citizens were exposed to death and destruction. 
Logic suggests that the same will occur with Miodrag Jokic, and admiral in 
the former JNA who, as Strugar's deputy, actively assisted in the 
Serbian-MonteNegrin aggression on southern Croatia. 
A few days ago Bosniaks under indictment for crimes in central Bosnia also 
found themselves free men. Enver Hadzihasanovic, Mehmed Alagic, Amir Kubura 
and Sefer Halilovic were received as heroes upon their return to Sarajevo, 
and their government is considering whether, despite the fact that they are 
under indictment, they should return to the positions they held prior to 
their departure for the Hague. Thus, negotiations are underway for Halilovic 
(who is connected to crimes against Croats in Grabovica and Uzdol, and who is 
passing responsibility on to Alija Izetbegovic) to return to his ministerial 
portfolio, and Kubura to return as an officer in the BiH Army. 
In principle, there should be no objection to this because everyone is 
innocent until proven guilty. What is objectionable is that this principle 
does not appear to apply to Croats. 
The possibility of pre-trial release for Croats has in advance been 
eliminated by the Hague court, which did not allow pre-trial release for not 
only for Blaskic or Kordic, but not for any Croat whatsoever. Not even for 
those Croats who voluntarily surrendered to the Tribunal. And those who 
voluntarily surrendered include Blaskic, Kordic, Ademi, Ljubicic, and many 
General Blaskic is now in his sixth year of custody in the Hague, and he 
still does not have a final judgment. Kordic and the group of Croats from 
central Bosnia who voluntary surrendered at the Split airport in 1998 under 
assurances from Robert Gelbard that they would receive a quick and just 
trial, also were denied pre-trial release. The Kupreskic brothers, who were 
recently acquitted by the Tribunal after four years as prisoners, were also 
not allowed pre-trial detention. At the time, they asked the Bosnian 
government to provide the Tribunal with assurances that they would return, 
but it refused. In contrast, the new BiH government quickly gave assurances 
of the return of accused Bosniaks. 
Furthermore, how do you explain that an officer of the Croatian Army, General 
Rahim Ademi, voluntarily surrendered to the ICTY well before Strugar, 
Hadzihasanovic, Halilovic and Kubura, and that they have since been released 
but Ademi has not? 
Does this perhaps mean that the assurances of the Croatian government on 
Ademi's behalf (that he would return) are worth less than the assurances of 
the Serbian government or the government of the BiH Federation for Serbs and 
Bosniaks? If that is the case, then Ivica Racan and Goran Granic should be 
deeply concerned, because that fact would speak volumes about their (lack of) 
credibility and respect among Hague officials. No, as in all likelihood it 
has nothing to do with that, the question becomes what exactly is going on 
The attempt to connect Ademi's pre-trial release to the Gotovina case totally 
lacks in credibility. If Ademi's freedom hinges on Gotovina's decision to 
voluntarily arrive in the Hague, and if this type of contingency were to 
become official ICTY policy, then the guarantees of the Serbian government 
for Biljana Plavsic and Pavle Strugar would be worthless, because that 
government harbors Mladic, Sljivancanin, Mrksic, Radic, and refuses to 
extradite them. Moreover, the President of Serbia (Milutinovic) is himself a 
Hague indictee. 
In all likelihood what is going on here is something completely different. 
What is happening is that the Hague tribunal appears to be applying a double 
standard in which it grants pretrial release to some Serbs and Bosniaks who 
have voluntarily surrendered, while a Croat, meaning a member of the Croatian 
Army or the HVO (even an ethnic Albanian like Ademi) who has voluntarily 
surrendered cannot receive pre-trial release, if we judge by the practice to 
date of the Tribunal. 
Should we then be shocked by the results of Croatian public opinion polls 
which reveal a deep lack of trust of the Hague Tribunal, and that the 
principle criticism is that the tribunal does not act on the basis of rules 
of procedure and evidence, but rather on political and other non-legal 
criteria? Unfortunately, the statistics above regarding accused who are 
allowed pre-trial release and those who are not confirm that the results of 
these Croatian public opinion polls are not without a basis in fact. 
Brian Gallagher 
distributed by CROWN - - 
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