International Justice: Torture, Evidence & Testimony-Tampering, Beatings, Bribes, Blackmail and Bullying; Prosecutors have Witness Kidnapped, Falsely Imprisoned, and Family Detained and Threatened By Julia Gorin(bio)
If Americans had any interest in what the future of jurisprudence — and justice — looks like, they would tune into the Hague’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where Orwell’s world has been a reality for the past 17 years. The ICTY is the body that was set up to try cases whose supposed weightiness was compared to “Nuremberg II.” But so ignored by the public and media alike have the proceedings been that no one even notices the perversion of jurisprudence and evisceration of justice that take place there.
In a follow-up to the witness intimidation and other prosecutorial misconduct that the Hague itself has been compelled to investigate — that is, to give its best impression of investigating — we have a few updates, including a recent item from Andy Wilcoxson exposing perhaps one of the more blatant corruptions of the Hague.
The Hague, 21 Oct. (AKI) - The prosecutors of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Wednesday appealed a court decision to launch an investigation into claims that they pressured, intimidated and tried to bribe witnesses.
Several prosecution witnesses in the trial of Serbian nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj, accused of crimes against Muslims and Croats during the 1991-1995 war that followed the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, told the court they were pressured, intimidated and even offered bribes.
The presiding judge in Seselj’s trial, Jean Claude Antonetti has ordered the tribunal Secretariat to name “amicus curiae”, whose identity will remain confidential, to investigate the claims.
In their appeal, the prosecutors said on Wednesday that the court paid unnecessary attention to “false and unbelievable accusations of people, many of who are closely connected to the political party of the indictee”.
Seselj, the leader of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), has been charged with crimes allegedly committed by paramilitaries recruited by SRS, but he himself never carried arms.
Seselj voluntarily surrendered to the tribunal in February 2003 and denied the charges. He claims he was tried for “verbal offence” because the prosecutors had no other arguments in the case.
The prosecutors asked the appeals panel to annul the decision to carry out an investigation, saying witnesses’ claims were “unbelievable and contradictory”.
So here’s just a sampling of the kinds of shenanigans the prosecutors would like dismissed — and no wonder. It of course applies to a different trial — the shocking experiences of a witness in the Karadzic case — and that’s what underscores just how pervasive the Hague’s crimes are:
On June 30th…the testimony of former Bosnian-Serb justice minister Momcilo Mandic began…Mandic began by telling the court that he would rather testify as a witness for the Chamber, than a witness for the Prosecution.
Mandic explained that the Prosecutor “threatened me, the associates of Mr. Tieger, they told me that if I didn’t come in to testify, I would be incarcerated.”
Mandic was also persecuted by the NATO puppet regime in Belgrade. He said, “In 2003 I was suspected of aiding and abetting and hiding Dr. Karadzic. I spent five months because of that in a solitary confinement cell in Belgrade, and none of my family members could visit me. And The Hague investigators came to see me. The Prosecutor’s investigator, that is, were allowed to come and see me.”
He said, “I was told that if I failed to co-operate and failed to tell them where Dr. Karadzic was, that I would be an accused before this Court and that I would be accused and found guilty by a Serbian Court.”
Mandic told the Tribunal that “My two sons were held in custody. And John Ruttel, one of the [OTP-Office of the Prosecutor] investigators, said to my son that he would be released if I were to come to Sarajevo.”
After the Serbian police released him, Mandic said, “I was kidnapped, as a citizen of Montenegro, and transferred in the space of two hours to a prison in Sarajevo, without any extradition proceedings or anything else. And in the prison there and in the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the evening hours I was taken out and was interrogated by the operatives and investigators of The Hague Tribunal, or, rather, the OTP. He said, “they asked me, once again, about Dr. Karadzic.”
Mandic said, “I wasn’t able to assist the OTP by telling them anything, because from 1996 I have had nothing to do with Dr. Karadzic. I wasn’t in contact with him at all. I tried to present my arguments and to explain this to them, but they just didn’t want to listen.”
He told the court that “The [Hague] investigators told me that I would be taken to court in Bosnia-Herzegovina and that the prosecutor of the BH Court would raise an indictment against me, and that I would be sentenced to a prison term of eight years. When I said that they had no grounds for filing a lawsuit against me, they said that they would find grounds and that that wasn’t important.”
Sure enough, Mandic told the Tribunal that “everything those operatives told me would happen did happen. I was prosecuted because of the commercial bank in Srpsko Sarajevo, which is owned by me, that I provided credits and loans to firms and companies which assisted Dr. Karadzic. And I was found guilty and given a prison term of eight years. I served five years.”
He was ultimately released from prison when Karadzic was captured and it was obvious that Mandic hadn’t been harboring him. Mandic said, “It was established that I was found guilty of a crime that didn’t exist and that it was all bureaucracy and false testimony on the part of false witnesses. And as an American citizen who had immunity, this person [who perjured herself with her testimony against Mandic] went to Dallas, Texas, and she even took some money from my bank. [The woman in question is named Toby Robinson, who in 2006 was appointed by the UN High Representative in Bosnia to liquidate Mandic’s bank. Interestingly, notes Wilcoxson, she got the job after her predecessor was beaten up and resigned.]
“I was helpless, faced with a situation of that kind. And Dr. Karadzic has been in a Scheveningen prison for two or three years. I had no contact with him whatsoever, but I remain somebody who was prosecuted and found guilty and held in prison for seven or eight years, and my family suffered. And now, as such, I am supposed to come here and be here as a Prosecution witness, whereas the Prosecution thought that I was harboring him and assisting him. I think that that is not commensurate with man’s dignity, and I would like to request that the Trial Chamber allow me to be a Court witness.”
The most damning thing for the Karadzic trial is the fact that after the witness had said these things; the Presiding judge absolutely did not care.
Judge Kwon reacted to Mandic’s statement saying, “Mr. Mandic, you raised several issues, but I will address only those which relate to the Tribunal’s business; i.e., your testimony.” And then he asked the defense and the prosecution “what position they take in relation to allow the witness to give evidence as a Chamber witness.”
Judge Kwon did not care in the least that the witness had been blackmailed and falsely imprisoned because of the Prosecutor, or that his family was subjected [to] false arrest and persecution. All the judge cared about was whether the witness should testify as a Chamber witness or a Prosecution witness – ultimately Mandic was allowed to testify as a Chamber witness, but who cares?
When prosecutorial misconduct of this magnitude is alleged, it at least deserves an investigation. The trial should stop, it should be ascertained what happened to the witness, what role the Office of the Prosecutor played, and whether any other witnesses are being subjected to the same kind of mistreatment.
The fact that the presiding judge deliberately ignored these allegations calls the fairness of the entire trial into question. If the prosecutor is resorting to blackmail and false imprisonment in order to get what he wants, then the entire trial process can’t be trusted and the verdict is without any legitimacy. The Prosecutor’s behavior is scandalous, and the Presiding Judge’s decision to turn a blind eye to it proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the judicial process has been corrupted and the trial is rigged.
…A complete transcript of this hearing is available at: http://ictytranscripts.dyndns.org/trials/karadzic/100630ED.htm and http://www.icty.org/x/cases/karadzic/trans/en/100630ED.htm
As Wilcoxson subsequently pointed out:
The prosecutors kidnapped him, falsely imprisoned him, and threatened his family — but the judges in the trial DO NOT CARE. The people putting Karadzic on trial are thugs and criminals. If Karadzic were the one sending people out to kidnap and threaten witnesses and their families you can bet it would be front-page news — but since the Prosecutor did it the media and the judges ignore it like it doesn’t matter – at a minimum it affects the credibility of the prosecution’s case and the fairness of the trial.
In a relevant article by Benjamin Schett in September for the Canada-based Global Research site, we go back to the Seselj trial — the one in which the Court has taken the uncharacteristic step of ordering an investigation into the pervasive prosecutorial misconduct — but again, only in the Seselj case.
…The fact that the ad hoc tribunal of The Hague deems it necessary to take this case into consideration in one way or another is in itself remarkable. After all, the tribunal’s manner of conduct cannot be called impartial: the methods The Hague employs to reach their desired convictions range from the denial of the right to self defence, to silencing the microphone when the accused speaks out on facts that are embarrassing to the prosecution or, as already mentioned, the intimidation of witnesses. Such occurrences happened often enough during the Milosevic trial, as when the former head of the Serbian secret service, Radomir Markovic, testified as a witness of the prosecution that he had been pressured in Belgrade to wrongly accuse Milosevic of having ordered war crimes. For this he was offered a new identity abroad, but after these revelations, Markovic was sent back to Serbia where he is still serving a prison sentence.
Another way to make the witnesses tell the most fantastic stories are the so-called “plead guilty” lawsuits: someone who is accused of having committed war crimes himself and who has testified already can be convicted in a summary procedure without the prosecution having to investigate and to prove the confession. The only important thing is that the right persons are being charged. The most well known example is the case of the Bosnian Croat Drazen Erdemovic, who pleaded guilty in 1996 to having served in the army of the Bosnian Serbs and having participated at the so-called “Srebrenica massacre” in July 1995.
In 2000 Erdemovic was set free and was offered a new identity. Since then he has served the prosecution as a protected witness in several trials. Even the charge of having committed “genocide” in Srebrenica against the former Bosnian Serbian president Radovan Karadzic and his army chief General Ratko Mladic is based on Mr. Erdemovic’s confessions. The German-speaking journalist Germinal Civikov has written a book that deals with all the contradictory statements Erdemovic has given, and all the obvious lies he is telling.
The German-language online magazine “Schattenblick” has published an article on the tribunal’s dealings with the Bosnian Serb officer Momir Nikolic, who was pressured to incriminate himself and others with regard to alleged crimes that are supposed to have taken place in Srebrenica. In exchange for this the prosecution offered to take back the charge of “genocide” against the officer and “only” blame him for having committed “crimes against humanity”. But they did not succeed:
“Nikolic, who was sentenced to 27 years, said in another case against one of his officer colleagues that he had been lying throughout. His lies were exposed by the American attorney Micheal Karnavas. He testified not to have ordered the alleged mass execution he had been blamed for and that he was not even at the place where the crime is supposed to have taken place. The attorney of the other accused officer demonstrated how Nikolic had confirmed that he had to “give something” to the prosecuting counsel, something he “did not have” for reducing his prison punishment to 20 years. Thus the model-witness for the “Srebrenica massacre” was “burned” judicially as well as politically.”
Seselj had already mentioned the use of “false witnesses” in his testimony at the Milosevic trial in September 2005. Momir Nikolic also plays a role in his testimony, in the context of the trial against another officer, Miroslav Deronjic:
“I was an eyewitness in the prison of The Hague Tribunal as to how Miroslav Deronjic was broken down by The Hague Tribunal, how they blackmailed him and the process of breaking him down. I was on good terms with him to begin with. He told me how he was arrested, how he was beaten, how they put him in a barrel of water and so on and so forth…it took months to break him down. And they didn’t succeed in breaking him down until Momir Nikolic, in his testimony before the Prosecution, said that Deronjic was present at a conversation where an execution was agreed. Well, then Deronjic broke down completely and agreed to testify on any subject whatsoever and against anybody whatsoever. He agreed to falsely testify against Karadzic.”
Another important key witness of the prosecution who probably had been pressured was the former President of the Krajina Serbs, Milan Babic. He testified against Milosevic, blaming him of being responsible for war crimes. Seselj doubted his credibility as a witness:
“For example, Milan Babic, during his testimony mentioned my name on several occasions in a completely false context. And I’m conscious of it being a false context.”
Babic will not be able to be questioned any more: he died in his cell in The Hague in March 2006, officially because of suicide, one week prior to Milosevic’s death under suspicious circumstances.
This and other examples are the subject of a new book written by a Swiss researcher with Serbian roots, Alexander Dorin , who…is researching facts, legends and the methods of justice in The Hague concerning the happenings in Srebrenica. But Ms Del Ponte is also facing dissatisfaction from unexpected circles, the ones she is claiming to fight for: the organisation “Mothers of Srebrenica”, founded by Bosnian Muslim women whose sons died in the war, blame Del Ponte for having destroyed their personal belongings that were supposed to help determine the causes of their sons’ deaths:
“Members of the Women of Srebrenica NGO are gathering signatures to file a lawsuit against former Hague prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. […]Our memories have been murdered as well and Carla Del Ponte must be held responsible,” the organization said. Current Chief Hague Prosecutor Serge Brammertz confirmed in May of last year that some 1,000 pieces of evidence recovered from mass graves in and around Srebrenica were destroyed. Brammertz said this was regular procedure, implemented as the evidence could not be archived.”
The justification of the destruction of “IDs, photographs and pieces of clothing” (B92) with the lack of sufficient storage space to archive them appears strange indeed, if one considers that we are talking about an incident that politicians and the mainstream media claim to be the “worst massacre in Europe since World War Two”. And in the ongoing trial against Radovan Karadzic, the politician[’s] planned conviction for his alleged responsibility for “genocide” is supposed [to] be justified with the Srebrenica case. The question should be allowed (without any intention to downplay the suffering of the Mothers of Srebrenica) if the destroyed documents maybe did not fully sustain the official version of the happenings in Srebrenica. After all, there was extensive fighting in the region, especially when soldiers of the Bosnian Muslim army were trying to break through the Serbian lines and reach the Muslim-controlled town of Tuzla. Dorin speaks of 2000 soldiers who died during the fighting and are now being counted as “massacre victims”. Or, if soldiers were actually murdered, this alone is not conclusive evidence for a crime that was ordered from above, as the prosecutors of the tribunal pretend to know.
David Owen, the British politician who was the former negotiator from the European community for Yugoslavia, testified in at the Milosevic trial and spoke of a phone call he received in April 1993 from the former Serbian president, who was then already worried about the situation in the region:
“I rarely heard Milosevic so exasperated and also so worried. He feared that if the Bosnian Serb troops entered Srebrenica, there would be a bloodbath because of the tremendous bad blood that existed between the two armies.”
Many other writers are nowadays contributing to the debunking of the official version of what happened in Srebrenica…The media’s prejudgment of Serbia, with the use of the term “genocide” when referring to Srebrenica as its climax, has enabled the tribunal to act in ways that serve neither the finding of truth nor the reconciliation between the Yugoslav peoples. The construction of “evidence” with the use of dishonest methods is intended only to justify in retrospect the western politics towards the Serbs as an “inevitable reaction” to their “savage and ruthless” behaviour.
So The Hague is using a strategy of creating “evidence” that [works backwards from a pre-determined conclusion and] puts the blame solely on the Serbian policymakers who were in power during the war, holding them personally responsible for the planning and execution of all the atrocities that took place in the civil war. A conflict that actually was fuelled from the outside is being presented to the western public as a “joint criminal enterprise” for the creation of an ethnically cleansed “Greater Serbia”.
It can be assumed that the tribunal will find a way to whitewash itself from the accusations. But the fact that the prosecutors will for the first time be forced to explain some of their strange conduct before a broader public restores an inkling of hope that the mainstream version of what happened with Yugoslavia will not be the one that people will learn in the future.
In a paper by Stefan Karganovich, president of Dutch NGO “Srebrenica Historical Project,” Karganovich deconstructs the way the ICTY put together the “evidence” to fulfill a charge of “genocide” at Srebrenica. While the paper is not all that long (four pages), it’s too detailed to go into here; however, Karganovich’s introduction summary underscores the overall implications of allowing the Hague to get away with what it’s gotten away with so far:
How the Hague Tribunal fabricates its evidence
There are at least three important reasons why Srebrenica must be made the subject of relentless critical deconstruction until we are fully satisfied that we have arrived at the truth.
1. Legal. The integrity of the international legal system will be seriously compromised if the results reached by political instruments such as ICTY are allowed to stand unchallenged. Acquiescence in its shoddy practices will lower standards generally and it will set a dangerous precedent, emitting the message that international legal institutions are a farce and that they may be instrumentalized with impunity by whoever happens at the moment to exert hegemonistic influence in the world. If the institution former President Milošević, in his idiosyncratic but in this case unintentionally perfect English, called “the false tribunal” is allowed the benefit of its pretenses, the future of international jurisprudence will not be brilliant. Properly constituted international legal organs, which do operate with due regard for the established principles of international jurisprudence, will be tainted by association.
2. Historical. When corrupt politics and journalism are reinforced by corrupt jurisprudence, the result — for a period of time at least — is a phony historical record. That phony historical record then serves as the backdrop for phony analyses and tedious moralizing about the policy errors that made a horror like Srebrenica possible. There is, of course, not an iota of honesty or sincere self-criticism in that theatrical nonsense. The real purpose of the hypocritical self-flagellation is to create a quasi-moralistic rationale for pre-emptive and proactive strikes anywhere on earth. This phony rationale allows aggressors to claim that these acts, which are in complete disregard of the norms of international law, are in fact justified because they were undertaken out of a deep commitment to the humanitarian imperative that another “Srebrenica” should never be allowed to occur again…More locally, however, it has another use, as an instrument of political blackmail and moral pressure on a small and brave nation whose refusal to be cooperative upset the timetable of present-day hegemons, just as the reckless defiance of their parents 70 years ago seriously interfered with the plans of the would-be hegemon of that epoch. Srebrenica is the principal moral and political instrument now used to control Serbia’s spineless political elite and to beat the Serbian people systematically into submission. The creation and imposition of a phony historical record of the relevant events is sine qua non for the success of that project.
That is the reason why the high priests of the Srebrenica cult keep such a sharp eye out [for] the slightest stirring of critical thinking, anywhere, about their false construction. They react invariably with the threat that “any attempt at revision of historical facts” concerning Srebrenica is strictly forbidden. One of the mechanisms they use to shore up their dogma is the fabrication of “facts” to suit their propaganda needs. [Karganovich illustrates this in his analysis, available upon request.]
3. Moral. But of all the cynical abuses of Srebrenica, by far the most outrageous is the moral. It has been used to tar an entire nation with the most repugnant crime that can be committed. A mighty machinery of propaganda, politics, and jurisprudence has been activated for the sole purpose of creating a shameless bluff and then validating it through the interacting political and quasi-legal institutions of a ruthless and predatory world order. The presumed beneficiaries of this moral charade, Bosnian Moslems, are in fact nothing of the sort. Just as the residents of the enclave of Srebrenica were abandoned and betrayed in 1995 by their leadership in Sarajevo in a callous endgame transaction, so Bosnian Moslems as a group were manipulated on the global chessboard by their solicitous Western “protectors” most of them without having a clue about it. The result was incitement to mutual carnage across Bosnia, with particular ferocity in the area of Srebrenica, deeply poisoning relations between neighbors and setting the stage for long term regional instability which, conveniently, can now be managed only through the intervention of foreign arbitrators. Srebrenica is a multipurpose fabrication.
(EXPLANATION: “Deeply poisoning relations between neighbors” is a reference to the fact that the three warring parties — Muslim, Serb and Croat — had signed the Lisbon peace agreement in1992, but that it was U.S. mediators who told the Bosnian president that we’d have his back if he wanted more than he was getting and would remove his signature, which he did. If the bit about turning neighbors against each other sounds like a sugarcoating of what Bosnia was before we came along, it’s not. Yes, hostile feelings were always brimming among the ethnicities, but they kept a lid on it and in terms of the day-to-day interactions among people, a neighbor’s ethnicity was not at the forefront of people’s minds: their children played and studied together, there was intermarriage, and today in and around Srebrenica — even after all that’s happened — on Ramadan the Muslims bring their food over to Serbian neighbors’ houses and vice versa on Orthodox Christmas. That’s how it’s always been, and we just couldn’t let it stand.)
In sum, the pernicious myth manufactured by the creators of Srebrenica has generated dangerous precedents of phony jurisprudence, phony history, and a phony international “morality.”
Jurists know that a court’s primary task is to determine the facts in a particular case. Reliably established facts are the point of departure for further legal analysis. Without a reliable factual matrix, the further conclusions a court may have reached are inherently problematic and disputable…
In contrast to regular and non-political tribunals in national jurisdictions, the Hague Tribunal (ICTY) does not confine itself to the simple determination of facts, carried out in the conventional and generally accepted way…[O]ften it simply manufactures “facts” to serve its needs. In this manner it plugs holes in its indictments and judgments (and often these holes are numerous and gaping) and it produces an apparent basis for conclusions that were drawn in advance.
We are faced with so many lies at the Hague — important lies, and completely unnecessary lies. When you open some statement about 20 pages, for example, and when you find lies in every single sentence, then you have a very difficult job. Because you have to fight with so small a lies [sic]. But only one of those lies is very important, only one. You have to find that one which is very important.
A year ago we got an early foreshadowing, thanks again to Andy Wilcoxson, that “international justice” at the Hague was going to continue as it has been (naturally to roaring applause by media and public alike):
If the Tribunal imposes a lawyer on Radovan Karadzic against his will [and it did], it will be because they don’t want him to present a defense that would rebut the accusations against him and the Serbian people. It will be because they’ve already written the verdict convicting him and they don’t want him screwing it up by presenting evidence to the contrary or exposing the fallacy of their reasoning. They want a defense lawyer who will play along while they railroad the defendant — welcome to “international justice” in the new world order.
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