Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Verdict Reaction

*More articles about the reaction to the verdict can be found at the end of this post*

The first article I found about reaction to the verdict in BiH.

Verdict Reaction

Not surprising there is a polarized reaction with regards to the verdict.
The Bosniaks interviewed in the article are upset that he was acquitted on the genocide charge and thought he should have been sentenced to a longer time in prison.
And that the verdict reflects a "reward for the crime committed against us."

The Bosnian Serbs interviewed in the article think that the acquittal on the genocide charge reflects a "great victory" because "they could not sentence him for genocide because there was no genocide" but, are upset at the length of the sentence.

I would disagree that the verdict reflects a "great victory" except perhaps for Krajisnik himself. (Although being sentenced to 27 years in prison is hardly a "victory.")
Because the trial chamber found that there was evidence to show that the crime of genocide did take place in Bosnia, only that the prosecution did not prove the intent to commit a crime.
And in order to be found guilty, they have to prove that 1. The crime occured and 2. That there was the intent to commit the crime.
At least that is my understanding.

If I find anymore articles on the reaction across Bosnia, I'll add it to this thread.

Recently added articles:

Reaction from politicians in the Federation.

Reaction from politicians in the RS

Again, the reaction is quite polarized across the country.

Reaction from politicians from the Federation was unanimously negative.

Reaction from politicans in the RS was mixed. With politicians in the RS saying that the verdict against Krajisnik is evidence of anti Serb bias at the Hague; but at the sametime the same politicians are quite happy about the acquittal on the genocide charge.

While I may not agree with each and every verdict, or with each and every sentence; and I certainly don't expect anyone else to agree with every single verdict that the Hague renders.
I don't get assertion that the ICTY court is either "pro" or "anti" one ethnic group or another. Saying that the verdict is evidence of "anti Serb" bias (or any other ethnic based bias for that matter) is a very irresponsible comment for a politician to make, in my opinion.

In case anyone is interested, here is the Wikipedia List of Indictees and Sentences


Srebrenica Massacre said...

This Hague tribunal has also become a circus. God, is there justice anywhere in this world?

Kirk Johnson said...

Genocide is very, very hard to prove. And the process by which international justice is carried out is still a work in progress.

The man is in prison. That he is 'merely' guilty of war crimes is nothing his supporters should be celebrating.

Owen said...

Dan, justice isn't perfect. The Tribunal finds on the evidence presented to it and the construction that it's able to put on that evidence.

As Kirk said, the mechanisms of international justice are still being developed, but the price we pay for a formal process is that we put up with its limitations because it's better than the alternative.

That said I'm still puzzled. I just posted a comment at your blog to the effect that given:
1. Plavsic's testimony that Krajisnik wielded as much power as Karadzic
2. Krajisnik's execution, as RS Assembly President, of the Decision on Strategic Objectives to establish State borders separating the Serbian people from the other two ethnic communities
3. Karadzic's Directive 7 to remove the Muslim population for the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves
4. The Tribunal judges' finding that Krajisnik was part of the Bosnian Serb government's executive authority and bore responsibility, and
5. Krstic's conviction for genocide by virtue of his command responsibility

the existence of mens rea regarding genocide would have been understood as implicit.

I couldn't access the judgment to see what the judges' reasoning in finding the charge unproven was.

Bg anon said...

SM in recent months the Hague judges have made a number of controversial verdicts.

More precisely it would appear that the judges have been unimpressed by the performace of the prosecution. I cant say whether they failed to do the job in this case since I wasnt following it closely. But this type of verdict is in line with previous ones.

I think the burden of proof must be quite high. I am very much closer to the left / liberal way of thinking regarding prison / punishment in this regard.

Have to say it has been a mistake to pronounce this verdict with only days left until Bosnian elections. The powers that be may have even realised this and foolishly thought that such a 'middling' verdict would leave Bosniaks and Serbs mildly disatisfied / mildly satisfied thus leaving nationalists with little to gain. But the opposite is true. Fodder has now been provided for nationalists to use in their campaigning.

Now of course they have begun talking about an appeal and this all drags on. I'm all for justice but cant help thinking that the best thing to do would be to wind up the Hague sooner than later. All these verdicts seem to do is open up wounds that are only just beginning to heal.

On the other hand of course K and M should be tried. Dare say thats going to be a circus too - not necessarily because of the Hague, because of the media and politicians reaction to events.

Shaina said...

bg anon;
The burden of proof is the legal standard of "reasonable doubt."
No doubt politicians will be exploiting this verdict until and after the election.

I don't think the problem is the Hague, I think the real problem are the politicians who have been exploiting these verdicts as of late for their own political purposes.

Another one of my "complaints" is with the media and the newspapers who don't seem to be spending that much time covering the trial or the legal arguments made by both sides; but then cover the verdicts. Therefore, many people don't seem to know exactly what evidence was brought into court, and what points the prosecution and defense made.
I'm not saying that the editorial boards on newspapers have to agree with every verdict; but IMO it is extremely irresponsible journalism not to explain the cases more and the arguments made by each side; but to then say that the verdict is an example of bias.

And for the politician from the RS (sorry can't remember his name, I believe he is a member of the State Assembly there) who said that the Hague was anti-Serb and that Bosniaks never get anytime in prison; he should check out the wikipedia article on sentences; and he'll see that one of the longer sentences the Hague has given (18 years) was given to Delic, a Bosnian Muslim convicted of murder and rape at the Celebici concentration camp.

as Kirk and Owen pointed out, justice is a long, slow, deliberate (and often bumpy) process. Genocide in particular is a very hard charge to prove, because it is such a serious charge.

I didn't follow the case, so I'd like to read more of the transcripts myself; but Owen brought up some really good points regarding Krajisnik, his authority within the RS and the "strategic state plans" and other directives to remove Croat and/or Bosniaks by force.
I did glance at the verdict, and I wish they would have spent more time explaining their decision on the genocide charge.
I'll also have to search to see how much weight the judgement gave to Plavsic's testimony.

I don't mean to sound draconian, but I thought the sentence was pretty mild.
And not just Krajisnik, some of the other sentences in the Hague seem mild considering what the defendants have been convicted of.
I know nothing will bring the victims back or anything.
But even considering his old age, 27 years, after being convicted of persecution and extermination, and being found legally guilty of the murder of 3,000 people seems rather mild.

Bg anon said...

Well perhaps I'm too soft but 27 years sounds to me like a long, long time. If you are already elderly then you die in prison, simple as that. If you are young then you've lost the best years of your life and will be old or middle aged (or perhaps die as some inmates have) by the time you get out.

If, of course we are talking about the sentiments of the victims thats another matter. Quite often the sentiments of victims conflicts with justice (in my view) and I am wary about their feelings being taken into account - as I believe they are in some States of the US before a verdict is issued by a judge or jury.

Of course if I was a victim I would want the maximum sentence for the one who I thought responsible but it is the law has to decide not me.

It is entirely inconsistent to punch the air in triumph in the case of Oric for example, and to bemoan the complete lack of justice at the Hague as some Bosniaks are now doing.
Which is it?

By all means question the prosecutions case at the Hague, even question the judges verdict or partiality but question the entire Hague as an institution? Well, that means probably a majority ALL sides who were in the war have NO confidence in the Hague - making it a complete failure. Congratulations the peoples of the former Yugoslavia you can all hold hands and blame the outside world together.

I agree with you Shaina that the media should make a greater effort to explain the charges and follow the trial. The problem in Serbia is that if it related to Bosnian Serbs its seen more as a Bosnian affair so nobody (including me) follows it. I sort of trust the Hague to carry out the due sentence. With Oric I followed more closely because of its controversial nature, interesting aspects of the evidence and his folk hero status amongst some Bosniaks (a problem we balkanites have with 'war heros'). I questioned that verdict and await to see if there will be an appeal.

I also agree that the statement
from the Bosnian Serb politician you quoted was wrong.

But I would add that I sincerely hope that after the elections those sinister video tapes will be dealt with and investigated by Bosnian and other authorities. The failure of such action really pours petrol on the fire - the Bosnian (and indeed Croatian) Serbs will never accept being an intregral part of the federation (or Croatia) if these cases arent properly investigated.

Of course some never will but I'm more interested in the moderate, reasonable majority (even if I believe it to only be a small majority).

Owen said...

The judgment makes the point that the Tribunal was very careful in its findings concerning the number of those killed. It refers to approximately 3,000 Muslim men killed in 30 municipalities, which it notes are its legal findings - ie beyond a reasonable doubt. In looking at the crimes of murder and extermination it says that it was unable to come to a conclusive finding that the perpetrators acted with genocidal intent.

Nevertheless it includes in its findings the killing of 40 plus Muslim men, forcible transfer of women and children and destruction of the mosque at Novoseoci, after which Krstic (then Lt Col.) reported back to the VRS Main Staff that "the village of Novoseoci was cleansed".

The VRS was responsible to the Presidency of which Krajisnik was a member. And Krajisnik had already declared in the Assembly that the time had come for separate Serb Croat and Muslim areas.

I've only seen part of Milan Tupajic's evidence in transcript which doesn't seem very conclusive with regard to Krajisnik's knowledge of what was going on in Socolak /Novoseoci, and I haven't come across a reference to Novoseoci elsewhere so I don't know whether the prosecution used Novoseoci as part of the genocide case. Various aspects of what happened there were consistent with genocide but I guess it's a question of the substance of the link between Krajisnik and Krstic's actions.