Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Ghost of Milosevic

There's really not much pith to add to this one -- an essay from a reporter for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which at one time was a place I'd hoped to land a job. (The language demands, for one thing, would be a mite difficult to get over. It takes more than plucky know-how to follow the proceedings of a Serbian war crimes trial. Still, I can dream.) An earlier post, which I won't look up now, mentioned my esteem for IWPR reporter Ed Vulliamy, who originally broke the story of the Omarska concentration camp to the world. This essay is another in a long line of important IWPR contributions to Balkan justice, and as an idealist I wish them the best of luck. As a journalist, I can only salute them and bide my time.

A snippet to get you started:
Animosity towards The Hague is also exacerbated by Serbian daily newspaper headlines which further fuel the story that Milosevic was poisoned by the Hague "executioners". Some of them bear the headline "Killed".

Killed, they say, because the Hague "hangmen" were running out of time to prove his guilt. Those engaged in this latest anti-tribunal offensive tend to forget four wars - all of them lost, with a quarter of a million dead, many more maimed and injured, the worst brain drain in the country's history, and economic devastation which will not see Serbia return to its pre-war levels for at least another decade.

Serbs fail to recognise their own responsibility for sustaining Milosevic through several elections.


It has to be said that the indictment against Milosevic was too wide-ranging, and made it possible for him to present to the world the version of history many Serbs believe to be true. It has to be said that the boundaries between what was and was not relevant became unclear during the trial, and an ordinary observer from Serbia watching his televised ramblings would have been forgiven for thinking that he was at times prosecuting the case rather then defending it.

It also has to be said that some of the court's decisions served to strengthen Serb prejudices. One instance of this is the tribunal's agreement to allow Ramush Haradinaj – the former Kosovo Liberation Army leader and Kosovo premier - to take part in public life while awaiting trial on war crimes charges. This, just as negotiations on the future status of the entity begin and local Serbs come under attack from Albanian extremists.


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