Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his jail cell earlier this morning. This is not an occasion for jokes, although the one about U.N. bureaucracy with funerals come to mind. The report is that he died of natural causes, and he had been terrifically ill, delaying the trial several times. It's one of those instances where you have to feel that justice wasn't entirely served, since the point of a trial for war crimes is to bring the truth to light and now his supporters can say he was never convicted of anything and can start conspiracy theories. Mark my words, this is a moderate-to-bad outcome for the Balkans.

Borislav Milosevic, who lives in Moscow, blamed the U.N tribunal for causing his brother's death by refusing him medical treatment in Russia.

"All responsibility for this lies on the shoulders of the international tribunal. He asked for treatment several months ago, they knew this," he told The Associated Press. "They drove him to this as they didn't want to let him out alive."

Milosevic asked the court in December to let him go to Moscow for treatment. But the tribunal refused, despite assurances from the Russian authorities that the former Yugoslav leader would return to the Netherlands to finish his trial.
One tangential piece of information, because otherwise the tone of the blog would be violated: the town with the prison where he was housed -- Scheveningen -- shares its name with a chess opening for the black pieces called the Sicilian Scheveningen. I only know this because I used to use it in my salad days.

Quick update: Yup, my fears are confirmed. After posting, I started looking at some of the other coverage, and it seems the quote above is from the tamest version of the lot. Reuters:

Last month, the tribunal refused to let Milosevic go to Russia for medical treatment, perhaps fearing he would never come back despite Kremlin guarantees.

"The Radical forces will now use this death ... they will exploit this," said a Belgrade law professor who did not want to be named.

"This will give wings to the Radicals and other extremist movements," she said. "They can rid themselves of everything bad that went with the Milosevic name and play on the story of victimized Serbia, which has the whole world against it."


In Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo -- Milosevic's last, desperate gamble on war -- the prevailing sentiment was that Milosevic had escaped justice.

Dr Arsim Gerxhaliu, a Kosovo Albanian forensics expert who has exhumed hundreds of bodies since the 1998-99 war, told Reuters: "In the end, he went very easily. The people didn't see him get what he deserved.

Among Kosovo Serbs, a ghettoized minority living on the margins of society since the war, there was only sadness.

"The father of the nation has left us," said Marko Popovic in the ethnically-divided town of Mitrovica. "They couldn't convict him, so they killed him."

And this from Agence France-Presse may be the most depressing:

The statute of the tribunal says that a trial cannot be held in absence of the accused. The court is expected to officially terminate the proceedings against Milosevic as it has done against the other suspects who died before the end of their trial.


Blogger nolo said...

No closure. Worst possible scenario.

10:43 PM  
Blogger nolo said...

Lapp, the story's getting weirder. Did you see the NYT article today (3/14/06) suggesting that Milosevic may have been the victim of his own attempts to manipulate his medical condition for purposes of gaining release?

11:23 AM  

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