Balkans: January 24, 2004


Out of sight of the media, SFOR continues to pursue Balkan war criminals in Bosnia. Major operations often produce few apparent results. Several nations and international organizations, including the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, have criticized SFOR for failing to capture war criminals. The ICTY, however, isnt above criticism. Its trials, such as the one of former Serb dictator Slobodan Milosevic, drag on forever and often turn into propaganda forums for the criminals. But the pursuit continues, both in the field and in the courts. There are several reasons, among them the hope that rule of law will somewhere and sometime supercede the rule of the gun. Nations and individuals need at least a sense of justice for psychological as well as political reasons. South Africas Truth and Reconciliation Commission is perhaps the best example out there of helping reorient a damaged society toward the future. The ICTY announced on January 21 that former Bosnian Serb official Momcilo Krajisnik will soon go on trial in The Hague, Charges against him include genocide. The first Bosnian Serb official to be tried was former Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic. Her trial actually moved rather swiftly. In 2003 she received a sentence of 11 years in prison. On January 23 SFOR arrested Ante Jelavic, a former leader of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). Two other Croat hardliners were arrested. The men were charged with embezzling funds from a bank that had been linked to hard line Croatian nationalists. SFOR nailed the men on financial corruption charges, though all of them (according to western press reports) were linked to violations of the Dayton Peace Accord. (Austin Bay)


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