Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Milosevic Lessons: Faster and More Efficient Trials

THE HAGUE — The trial of Slobodan Milosevic generated about 120 DVD's, 46,000 pages of transcripts and more than 300,000 pages of oral and written evidence. The number of documents had reached 1.2 million pages, and more were on the way.

All that work stopped in its tracks. On March 13, two days after Mr. Milosevic's death, the international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ended the case here, leaving lawyers and court officials, witnesses and victims abruptly bereft.

So, has the first international criminal trial of a head of state bequeathed more than immense frustration? Yes, even if accidentally.

The prosecution set out to tell the detailed history of three Yugoslav wars of the 1990's because it saw this as the only way to uncover Mr. Milosevic's often hidden hand in them.

Still, prosecutors are not historians; their focus is on establishing proof.

"Proof will include truth, but it will not present the full picture," Geoffrey Nice, the lead prosecutor, once said. "We have a limitless field of evidence from the wars, but we are not inquiring like scientists; we are asked to extract from it."

With Mr. Milosevic's death of a heart attack in his jail cell, no judges will weigh this evidence. So what remains is not a verdict, but the prosecution's account — that the former Serb leader was almost the sole driving force behind the three wars.

The court did not indict his wartime counterparts. Franjo Tudjman, the president of Croatia, was under investigation but died in 1999. The court never focused on the role of the Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic.

Other trials are dealing with senior Muslims and Croats, aiming to provide a balanced view of the wars that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Mr. Milosevic devoted almost his entire defense to charges related to the 1999 war in Kosovo. Because both sides had a say, a tested version of that history exists, and it may influence future cases.

Even without a verdict, the Milosevic case will help shape a collective memory of the Balkan tragedy, and the trial created building blocks and procedural lessons for future trials. Not least, it established the precedent, long unthinkable, of having a former head of state face a criminal trial before an international court.

Even some of the evidence presented in the Milosevic trial may have a further life.

At the trial's great predecessor, the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders, the occupying Allied troops had an immense paper trail of signed orders. But Mr. Milosevic wrote very little, so over the four-year trial, prosecutors painstakingly reconstructed events, drawing on testimony of witnesses and insiders, as well as affidavits, letters and transcripts of phone taps and radio intercepts.

All that has been incorporated into a vast database, where evidence may be retrieved for other trials. It may be opened to scholars, researchers and journalists.

Eligible topics could include the role of Serbia's special forces, their links to the paramilitary, Mr. Milosevic's use of secret parallel commands, and Belgrade's payment of equipment, salaries and pensions to its proxy army in Bosnia.

The Milosevic trial offers important lessons, which are now being debated. The court has understood that its strategy of trying Mr. Milosevic for his whole "criminal enterprise" created an overly cumbersome case, signaling the pitfalls for future high-profile trials.

It has not gone unnoticed here that in the trial of Saddam Hussein, the prosecution has focused narrowly on one infamous case of brutality to which he is linked as an active participant.

But unlike Mr. Hussein, Mr. Milosevic was always far from the scene of action. He was accused of command responsibility, in planning and ordering the crimes of others.

The way the prosecution made its case required charting the full political and military structure of Yugoslavia and its dissolution. One lawyer said there was no simple event, standing alone, that could be sliced off and pinned on Mr. Milosevic.

Moreover, he argued, the point of the process was not just to seek retribution but to help shape the history of the war, to spur Serbs to end their denial of atrocities and reconnect Serbian society to the rest of Europe.

Lawyers will be debating for a long time whether this can or should be the role of a criminal trial. Much fingerpointing has occurred over the trial's inefficient and slow pace.

Judges tried several times to break the prosecution's vast indictment into more manageable portions. Doctors imposed a part-time schedule because of Mr. Milosevic's poor health.

Prosecutors complained that the judges' decision to let Mr. Milosevic act as his own lawyer not only slowed the trial every time he was sick but also allowed him to filibuster and to use the court as a political stage.

Other international tribunals have already drawn their conclusions, and as this court deals with the rest of its caseload it will be harder for any accused to obtain the right to defend himself, and nearly impossible for someone who is sick or unruly.

Court officials also emphasized privately that international tribunals handling complex war crimes cases need the most experienced judges.

Several judges who retired after serving in The Hague have said they deplored working beside inexperienced judges who came from diplomatic, academic or political posts. Patrick Robinson, who presided over the second half of the Milosevic trial, had a long diplomatic career but almost no trial experience.

There is intense internal debate over whether complex war crimes trials are best served by the adversarial system with its many witnesses and courtroom drama, or by more of a civil law system with its more active role for the judges and far more written evidence.

Steven Kay, a British court-appointed lawyer for Mr. Milosevic, said the adversarial system "utterly fails to deal with trials of the Milosevic type."

Written evidence has already become more acceptable at the tribunal, and other rules have been changed to streamline procedures.

But future shifts do not alter the plight of the Milosevic prosecutors, who wrote a sweeping historical indictment and ended up, not with a verdict and a sentence, but mostly with food for historians.


Dardania 2006 said...

At this rate the Hague will still have a Serb majority.

They can get autonomy there?


Jokes aside, I hope you see them as jokes, dark humor but humor nevertheless...

The trials should realy move ahead because everyone has to see what evils they did.

Serbs to everyone
Croats to Bosniacs
Albanians to themselves.

Hmmm, Bosniacs I think are the cleanest here...

Mir said...

There are alot of articles out there (mainly from Westerners that testified in defense of Milosevic) saying that the trial was not actually going well for the prosecuters. That Milosevic was actually doing good at cross-examining witnesses and defending himself. They also said the idea of him 'smuggling' drugs into his cell was crazy because of the security.

I do not know which side of media to believe because they have both been liars alot of the time and I wont ever truly know what was happening. But I do feel that the Hague trial was meant to be a showcase trial to warn the rest of the worlds dictators about what could happen to them. I dont think the message worked with Milosevic but it sure did with Hussein. Anyone agree with that?

Wim Roffel said...

I think it is not normal that nearly every trial in The Hague takes several years. Milosevic is far from the first one who dies during his trial.

As for "clean" Bosniacs: try Naser Oric.

I think a war tribunal is good for war crimes, like Srebrenica and Omarska. But I didn't like the concept of convicting Milosevic for a "Great Serbia" ideal. Half the Balkan believes in ethnic states (usually except when they have to give up territory), so why to pick just one party to condemn them for it?

Anonymous said...

Of course a dutch moron like you Wim will say shit like that about Naser Oric. That way you try to take off some responsibility form your war criminal buddies who separated men and boys from women in Srebrenica. Your country is as guilty as serbs of Srebrenica.

Anonymous said...



…sorry Mary but I couldn’t help myself, I had to send you one more email even though I said I would never send you one again.

Anyway, it’s like the ol’ saying goes……“birds of a feather ………..together!” …….anti-western terrorists stick together always.

Aren’t you aware that the serbian orthodox church is no different to extreme forms of islam?????

You seem to forget that everybody knows about serbia’s relationship (co-operation) with Sadam Hussein, etc, etc.
…and here’s some news for ya….oh, and there’s heaps more if you want.

Worst wishes
Iran, Serbia sign security agreement
Tehran -- Monday - Iranian First Vice President Parviz Davoudi on Sunday authorized temporary signing of an agreement on security cooperation between the governments of Iran and Serbia-Montenegro, according to Iranian news agency.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), in response to the proposal of the Ministry of Interior, the secretariat of the government's council for dissemination of information and the cabinet authorized the Ministry of Information to proceed and temporarily ink such an agreement.

The move is in accordance with article 2 of Iran's by-law on drawing up and signing international contracts approved in 1992, reports IRNA.

comments? | print

Iran, Serbia have solid economic, trade potentials


November 24, 2005

Minister of Economy of Serbia and Montenegro Federation Amir Norkovic said here on Wednesday that although Iran and Serbia and Montenegro have a rich potential for trade their level of trade and economic exchanges was not at par with their cordial political relations, IRNA said.

Meeting Iranian Ambassador to Belgrade Mohammad Mirhaydari, the Serbian official called for increased efforts by both countries to raise their current level of bilateral trade.

He, moreover, said that suitable conditions exist for closer cooperation including in the field of textiles and chemicals and in the wood industry as well as in vehicle, machinery and farm equipment production, IRNA added.

He said the two countries can put in place better customs facilities to increase their bilateral trade.

"In addition, banking is another area potentially rich in cooperation," he added.

He praised an initiative of Serbia and Montenegro's Chamber of Commerce of opening a special section to encourage economic cooperation with Iran.

Mirhaydari also called on the Serbian minister to provide the necessary facilities for increasing economic and mutual trade ties.

Iran and Serbia-Montenegro have signed five trade and investment agreements at the end of the 12th joint Iran-Serbian and Montenegro Economic Cooperation Commission session last December.

The protocols provide for removal of double taxation on trade and investment acticities, support and attraction of foreign investments, and trade and economic cooperation.

Moreover, an agreement for mutual insurance coverage by the Export Guarantee Fund of Iran (EGFI) and the Serbian Guarantee Institute and another on cooperation at the provincial level were inked.

The protocols will facilitate closer ties between the states' private sectors.

The agreements call for Iranian and Serbian manufacturing, commercial, technical and engineering companies to strengthen cooperation and implement various projects.

The countries' volume of bilateral transactions stood at about dlr 700 million in the 1980s.


Friday, March 31, 2006
Serbian "drug barons" said to have strong ties with Colombian cocaine traders
Text of report by "E.B." entitled "Serbian drug barons are big players in Europe" published by Serbian newspaper Blic on 27 March

Belgrade: Serbian drug barons, who maintain strong ties with cocaine traders in Colombia, the world's biggest producer of this narcotic, have strong business contacts also with the Albanian mafia, police information indicates.

These good contacts on both sides of the Atlantic and highly functional trafficking routes, whereby tons of cocaine are smuggled from South America to Europe, have enabled them to take a place among the most powerful drugs traffickers in Europe.

People have only recently become aware of the existence of one of them, Dragan Ilic from Nis, who was arrested in Argentina for the smuggling of 171 kg of cocaine in 0.7 litre bottles designated for Spain; two others are still out of reach of the police. Ilic would have remained out of the public eye if he had not drawn attention to himself with his spectacular wedding to Miss Venezuela, at which stars of our entertainment industry firmament performed, led by Ceca Raznatovic.

One of those not available to the police was born in Kosovo and is associated with a shipment of 200 kg of cocaine in earthenware jars, while the other is associated with the smuggling of 164 kg of the drug from Panama to Bosnia-Hercegovina. A shipment of nearly 100 kg of cocaine, seized by the Greek police in Athens, is also attributed to him.

"Ilic was introduced into the business by Sreten Jocic, better known as Joca Amsterdam, while the other two made use of the old contacts that existed between the Serbian mafia and the Colombians, with the Medellin Cartel. These contacts have been operational for two decades and the original founders on both sides are long dead," our source in the police says.

The Serbs have founded their empires, however, on this old friendship. Using well-oiled smuggling channels across the Atlantic, they smuggle cocaine from South America to the drugs markets in the EU countries. The US Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA) is keeping a watchful eye on the Serbian drugs barons, so that the job is done by their underlings. They themselves have never been caught with so much as a gram of cocaine in their possession, so that they are clean as far as the law is concerned.

"Cocaine is smuggled by ship from South American ports - Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Panama and Mexico - to the most far-flung point of Europe, the Spanish Canary Islands. From there it goes to other ports, such as Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Hamburg in Germany, Marseille on the Cote d'Azur, and Piraeus, as well as Scandinavian, Italian and Belgian ports," our source explains.

Apart from the main smuggling route through the Canary Islands, there is also a direct line between South America and Europe, where the Serbian troika has a significant share of the market. Their strong positions are due in a large measure to good cooperation with the Albanian mafia, both in smuggling cocaine from South America and in using the Albanian connection inside Europe.

"Part of the cocaine ends up on our market as well, coming in mostly by way of the port of Bar, but these are small quantities," our source in the police says.

Source: Blic, Belgrade, in Serbian 27 Mar 06 p 16

albasoul said...

I read that article also and I also felt the same anger. That lady is out of her mind. I dont know how she could be related to serbs but judging by the way she lies, it has to be genetic.
Even serbs would laugh with her arguments. There are a lot of crazy people outhere bro, that would say any idiotic thing that you can imagine just to get readers attention. Just ignore her. I am sure that people laugh at her idiotic columns

Dardania 2006 said...

ju lutem mos perdorni emra te tille.

cdo here qe e quani dikend idiot apo dicka te tille bini ne nivel te tyne

a jeni dardan a sjeni?

Republic_of_Kosova said...

po le bre burr ket femen se shum posht je ka e qet veten. Qa u bo kshtu, per shkak qe ti mundohesh kaq shum mi tregu asaj qe eshte gabim, ti e hup kredibilitetin tende, dhe situata duket se ajo e ka me te drejt.

Anonymous said...


You have to look at the author first. She has nothing against Albanians
or Serbs, I doubt she knows either of them (she is probably saying the
truth that she has no Serbian cousins :)) but she just wants to piss
off democracts and Bill Clinton. You can't imagine how much extremist
right wingers hate him, and are able to hate any of his policies as a

You'r latest letter was the best. And short too. But you lost your

Stay cool.

Dardania 2006 said...


I am not Ilirian...I am not communicating with Ms. Mostert.


Njerez, mbajeni nderin. Mos bini ne nivel te kerkujt. Si te perdorni emra fyes, "termine" te cilat i perdorin edhe ata, bohemi me tingellu krejt si ata.

Mos harroni se lexuesit e huaj nuk e lexojne tekstin sikur ju. Ata nuk shohin dallim mes Ilirian dhe Cvijus ne kete rast, edhe pse ne e dim dallimin.

Anonymous said...

I wouldnt worry about Mary Mostert. She reminds me of David Irwing . The historian who claims holocaust never happened. Now imagine 6 million jews killed and there are a lot of people and just Irwing who claim it was a hoax. We albanians lost 10 thousand and of course there will be people like Mostert and irwing who against all logic will make such moronic claims.

Anonymous said...

O Dardania 2006,
një përgjigje të shkurtër për juve lidhur me këtë që keni shkruajtur..."a jeni Dardan a sjeni?"

Nuk jam Dardan dhe nuk dëshiroj që asnjë Shqiptar të quhet Dardan/as kurrë. Ata që mundohen ta krijojnë një komb të ri "Dardanas", çojnë uj vetëm në mullirin e serbisë dhe të armiq've tjerë të kombit Shqiptar. Pra ju lutem, mos u mashtroni nga mëndje shkretët, injorantet apo tradhëtaret e kombit tonë të shumëvuajtur që fatkeqsisht po përpiqen të na ndajnë përgjysë, sepse nuk jemi aq shumë në numër dhe aq të fortë që të ndahemi në dyshë.
Mos i harroni fjalët e të madhit Sënderbe, "bashkimi bën fuqinë!".

Ju uroj shëndet e jetë të gjatë gjithë Shqiptarëve të vërtet që jetojnë e frymojnë SHQIP!


Anonymous said...

ju faliminderit qe keni shkrue ship dhe u gezova qe po disha hala me lexue shqip shqip shqip te fala kosoves

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