Global Policy Forum

International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia

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During the Bosnian war in the early 1990s ethnic cleansing, genocide and other serious crimes were committed on all sides. In May, 1993, the UN Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) to try those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991. The purpose of the tribunal is to bring justice to the victims of the conflict and deter future leaders from committing similar atrocities. The ICTY has also taken on cases from the Kosovo crisis of the late 1990s.

The ICTY was the UN's first special tribunal and came under intense scrutiny. It has been criticized for being politicized, biased, unfair and very costly. Lengthy trials and controversial decisions have led to a growing loss of faith in the tribunal, and critics question the tribunal's ability to ease tensions and promote reconciliation in the Balkans. Despite its shortfalls, the tribunal has however been instrumental in the creation of the first permanent international criminal court, the International Criminal Court (ICC), providing a number of ‘lessons learned.’

The tribunal is working towards the completion of its mandate, and aims to complete all appeals by the end of 2014. In December 2010, the Security Council established the International Residual Mechanism for the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to conclude the remaining tasks of the tribunals after the expiration of their respective mandates.  

The trial against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić started in October 2009 and is expected to be completed by 2013. Ratko Mladić was arrested and extradited to The Hague in May 2011, after sixteen years as a fugitive, leaving Goran Hadžić as the last remaining fugitive of the ICTY.

This page follows the development of important cases in The Hague with special attention to the trial of Radovan Karadžić.


UN Documents | Reports | Articles


UN Documents

Security Council Resolution 1966 (22 December 2010)

Security Council Resolution 1966 established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals to conclude the remaining tasks of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Security Council Resolution 827 (May 25, 1993)

The Security Council established the ICTY under Chapter VII of the UN Charter through Resolution 827.



Reports

Looking For Justice: The War Crimes Chamber in Bosnia and Herzegovina (February 2006)

The War Crimes Chamber (WCC) in Bosnia and Herzegovina was established in March 2005 in response to the winding up of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY). The WCC was designed to try lower and mid-level perpetrators referred to it by the ICTY and locally initiated cases. The WCC represents the "latest model of an international justice mechanism" which is established in the domestic legal system. The Bosnian justice system has not yet recovered from the conflict, and the WCC will work towards building rule of law again in Bosnia. This Human Rights Watch report provides an overview of the key organs which make up the WCC.

Tribunal Law Made Simple

This Institute for War and Peace Reporting document is a straightforward, yet comprehensive "beginner's guide" to the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. It covers the tribunal's establishment, mission and jurisdiction, as well as its relationship with national courts. The guide also provides basic information on how a case is conducted; from indictments and arrests, through to sentencing and appeals.

Justice at Risk: War Crimes Trials in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia and Montenegro (October 14, 2004)

After monitoring domestic war crimes trials in the states of former Yugoslavia since 2000, Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that bias, lack of cooperation by officials and inadequate witness protection programs prevent national courts from exercising impartiality. HRW offers recommendations to remedy the problems, before national courts initiate more trials or accept cases passed down from the over-stretched International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia.

 


Articles

2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | Archived Articles

2011



Ex-Yugoslav General Sentenced to 27 Years Imprisonment (September 6, 2011)

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced former Yugoslavian army’s highest-ranking officer Momcilo Perisic to 27 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Perisic was found gulity of assisting and supporting crimes committed in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Zagreb in the 1990s. The verdict against Perisic is an important step for the ICTY as he is the first Belgrade official to be convicted for Serbia’s role in crimes committed during the war in Bosnia and Serbia, a role that has been heavily denied by the regime. (Balkan Insight) 

Prosecutors Seek Two War Crimes Trials against Mladic (August 17, 2011)

In May 2011 former Bosnian Serb military general Ratko Mladic was arrested and transferred to The Hague. Mladic is accused of crimes against humanity and for planning the genocide of 8000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 and the 43 month siege against Sarajevo where 10,000 people were killed. The International Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia (ICTY) prosecutors have proposed splitting the trial into two separate cases in order to expedite the proceedings and ensure a judgment of the ageing and unhealthy Mladic. ICTY has been criticized before for its lengthy trials such as the case against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who died in custody before a verdict had been reached. Dividing the process would be a positive and “practical” step to ensure justice for victims without compromising Mladic’s rights. (Reuters)

Goran Hadzic's Prosecution: International Justice at Last (August 13, 2011)

On July 20, Goran Hadzic, the former president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina was arrested after seven years on the run. Of the 161 individuals indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Hadzic is the last one to be captured. Hadzic is charged on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including torture, extermination and deportation of the non-Serb population of Croatia. The arrest of Hadzic, following the well-known arrests of Radovan Karadzic in 2008 and Ratko Mladic earlier this year, sets a milestone for the 18 years long work of the UN war crime tribunal. (Guardian) 

The Indictment Against Ratko Mladic (May 26, 2011)

Ratko Mladic, the most wanted fugitive of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), has finally been arrested.  The arrest comes sixteen years after the tribunal issued the first indictment against Mladic.  During this time the Serbian government was consistently criticized by the international community for not doing enough to arrest Mladic and others accused of war crimes.  This article outlines the various charges Mladic will face when he is extradited to The Hague, including individual criminal responsibility for genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws of war. (Balkan Insight)

Gotovina Judgement and the Politics of International Justice (April 19, 2011)

On April 15, 2011, two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes committed during Operation Storm – a Croatian offensive that pushed secessionist Serbs out of Krajina in August 1995.  The tribunal found the defendants guilty on the basis of Joint Criminal Enterprise, which holds individuals accountable for the actions of a group.  This article argues that according to this legal doctrine other actors involved in Operation Storm, including US government officials, should also be prosecuted but have not been for political reasons. (Balkan Insight)

UN Members Call for Kosovo Organ Trade Probe (February 17, 2011)

Following the release of a Council of Europe report in December, pressure is mounting for an investigation into allegations of organ trafficking by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army.  Lamberto Zannier, the head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has called for an investigation, which was supported by members of the Security Council and the representatives for Kosovo and Serbia.  How the investigation will be conducted is yet to be determined.  With the exception of Russia and Serbia, the majority favor an investigation by the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, rather than an independent international investigation. (Reuters)

Hague Tribunal 'Follow-up' Seen as Insult to Balkan Courts (February 14, 2011)

In December 2010 the UN announced the establishment of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.  The Residual Mechanism will conclude the remaining tasks of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia as its mandate expires (as well as the Tribunal for Rwanda).  Some observers argue the creation of another international court is a vote of no confidence in the capacity of courts in the former Yugoslav region to prosecute war crimes.  Others, however, assert the decision reflects practical concerns, related to jurisdiction to prosecute Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.   Both men remain at large, likely outside the region. (Balkan Insight)

2010

Report Links Top Kosovo Officials to Organ Harvesting (December 14, 2010)

In 2008, the former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, alleged that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army had killed Serbian prisoners and harvested their organs.  These claims have not been investigated to date.  However, in December 2010, the Council of Europe released a draft report which substantiates the allegations and suggests that war crimes may have been committed.  Kosovo's Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, is implicated in the report.  The Council has called for national and international investigations. (Balkan Insight)

Hague Prosecutor: Fugitives are Priority (June 19, 2010)

The Chief Prosecutor and President of the Hague Tribunal have presented their six-month reports on the work of the Tribunal to the UN Security Council. According to Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, the Serbian government has continued to cooperate with the Tribunal by giving access to documents, witnesses and archives. Serbia has also continued with its operative activities in the search for Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. Brammertz stresses, however, that Belgrade must consider its current form of actions and increase its efforts in finding and arresting the fugitives. (B92)

Serbia Hands UN Court Seized Mladic Diaries (May 19, 2010)

Serbia has sent the prosecutors of the Yugoslavia Tribunal a bundle of diaries written by former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic. The prosecutors are seeking to use the diaries as evidence in the case against Radovan Karadzic. In recent years, Serbia has stepped up its cooperation with the Yugoslavia Tribunal in an effort to become a member of the European Union. Nevertheless, Serbia has not yet arrested the Tribunal's two most wanted fugitives, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. (Washington Post)

Serbian Parliament's Srebrenica Apology Hailed, Criticized (March 31, 2010)

On 30 March 2010, the Serbian parliament condemned the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 and offered a formal apology to the families of the victims. The apology has been hailed by the European Union and human rights activists as a step toward reconciliation in the Balkans. At the same time it is being criticized by both Serbs and Srebrenica survivors. Some Serbs argue that the declaration unfairly singles out their community as violators of war crimes during the Bosnian war. Some Srebrenica survivors argue that the declaration is meaningless as it avoids the word "genocide." The International Court of Justice ruled in 2007 that the Srebrenica massacre constituted genocide. (Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)

Patrick Robinson: 'Mladic Could be Tried After Tribunal Closes' (March 10, 2010)

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is expected to complete its work no later than 2014. The Tribunal's president, Patrick Robinson, hopes that the two remaining most-wanted fugitives, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, will be arrested and brought to justice before the end of the Tribunal's mandate. If this does not happen, they will be tried under the Tribunal's "legacy mechanism". This means that responsibility for the cases will be transferred to domestic courts in the Balkans. Robinson particularly praises the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina for its fair trials and excellent cooperation with the ICTY. (Balkan Insight)

A Difficult Week for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (March 5, 2010)

On March 1, 2010, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) reopened the trial against former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic. Karadzic told the ICTY that the Bosnians orchestrated the siege of Sarajevo and dismissed the 1995 Srebrenica massacre as a "myth." In the same week Britain arrested former Bosnian vice president, Ejup Ganic, after an extradition request from Serbia. Serbia accuses him of war crimes committed during the Bosnian war in 1992. Ganic's arrest has increased tensions between Bosnia and Serbia, as Bosnians see Belgrade's extradition request as "retaliatory" and an attempt to make equivalence between Ganic and Karadzic. (Open Democracy)

War Victims Comdemn Further Delays to Karadzic Trial (February 25, 2010)

The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) is currently deciding whether the trial of Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, should be postponed once more.  The proceedings are set to start again in March 2010, after the judges rejected Karadzic's November 2009 request for more preparation time.  Karadzic, charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, demanded another trial postponement last month after the ICTY appointed a British lawyer as his standby defender. Some legal experts believe that Karadzic should be given more time to prepare his defence due to the complexity of the case. Others, including the war victims, believe that Karadzic is "playing games" with the Tribunal. (Balkan Insight)

2009

Security Council Extends Tribunal Judges' Terms (December 18, 2009)

On 16 December 2009, the United Nations Security Council announced its intention to extend the contracts of the trial and appeals judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) until 2012. The ICTY was supposed to close its doors this year. The ICTY estimates that it needs at least until 2014 to fulfill its work. Furthermore, the Tribunal's two remaining most-wanted fugitives, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, have not yet been arrested. (IWPR)

ICTY: Self-Representation Under Scrutiny (November 6, 2009)

Judges have decided to appoint a lawyer to defend former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in spite of his claims to represent himself. While self-representation is a right enshrined in the statute of the tribunal, it has led in the past to interminable trials turned by the defendant into a forum for political grandstanding. Slobodan Milosevic's trial dragged for so long that he died of a heart attack before justice could be done. Furthermore, the right to self-representation conflicts with the right to a fair trial in highly complex legal cases in which defendants can often incriminate themselves further because of their lack of courtroom experience. (IWPR)

Karadžić Genocide Trial Begins (October 27, 2009)

The trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić began without him on October 26, burdened with the weight of expectations. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is facing legal challenges due to Karadžić's insistence to represent himself during the trial and the nature of the charges laid against him. The crime of genocide is one of the most difficult to prove because of the requirement to show a specific intent to destroy a group in whole or in part. Interestingly, the trial also raises the issue of the legal status of UN personnel abroad. Karadžić, who is accused of taking UN personnel hostage, argues that they were not civilians but prisoners of war. (Crimes of War Project)

Indicted War Criminal Ratko Mladic Enjoying Leisurely Retirement (October 1, 2009)

Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic has been on the run since 1995, when an international warrant was issued for his arrest. For the past 14 years, the indicted war criminal has lived in the open in complete tranquility thanks to the complicity of the Serb military and high-ranking politicians. Serbia has prevented Mladic's capture for fear that he would confirm in his testimony how deeply the Serb government was involved in the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo. The US has also proven ambivalent over Mladic's arrest. (Spiegel Online International)

Hague Tribunal's Prestige Fades as Closure Looms (September 17, 2009)

Recent controversial decisions have contributed to a growing loss of faith in the ICTY, which is reaching the final stage of its work. The Tribunal's handling of high-profile cases has angered Croatian and Bosnian public opinion as well as the Court's once-ardent supporters. Critics have bitterly condemned the Court's decisions in the cases of former ICTY prosecution spokesperson Florence Hartman, wartime Bosnian leader Biljana Plavsic and the so-called "Vukovar Three". (Balkan Insight)

After Hague Destroys Srebrenica Evidence, Survivors Feel Pain of Lost Memories (September 3, 2009)

The International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has recently admitted that it intentionally destroyed over 1,000 personal items and forensic evidence retrieved from the graves of Srebrenica victims. The Court maintains that it only followed standard procedure in destroying artifacts which allegedly represented a health risk. Relatives of the victims argue that the decision was careless and resulted in the loss of objects of potentially tremendous emotional and forensic value. (RFE/RL)

Milutinovic Acquittal Gets Mixed Reaction (February 27, 2009)

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquitted Milan Milutinovic, the former President of Serbia, of war crimes committed during 1998-1999 in Kosovo. The court found five high ranking officials guilty and sentenced them to 15 to 22 years in prison. The Judge concluded that Milutinovic had no active part or any control over the police that committed war crimes in Kosovo. The reactions to this verdict were mixed. Many jurists emphasize that this acquittal shows the fairness of ICTY trials, but Serbian politicians argue that the court retains an anti-Serbian stance. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

5 Top Serbs Found Guilty of War Crimes in Kosovo (February 26, 2009)

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has charged five Serbian generals with deportation, forcible transfer, murder and the expulsion of at least 700,000 ethnic Albanians across the border, a sentence carrying up to 15-22 years. These convictions are of special importance, given that the foremost person responsible for the war crimes in Kosovo, former president Slobodan Milosevic, died in his ICTY-cell in 2006. Milan Milutinovic, the wartime Serbian president remains uncharged, because the court ruled that Milutinovic was merely a "figurehead" and Slobodan Milosevic was the actual command authority. (New York Times)

Seselj's War Crimes Trial Suspended (February 11, 2009)

The trial against Vojislav Seselj with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has been suspended for witness security protection purposes. Seselj faces charges for war crimes committed in Croatia, Vojvodina and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 to 1993. Although, the court has extensive evidence from witness testimonies against the 54 year old Seselj, the ICTY judges believe the safety of the witnesses cannot be guaranteed so the trial remains suspended. (Associated Press)

2008

Serbia: All Eyes on Brammertz (November 24, 2008)

The Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY, Serge Brammertz, investigates Serbia's progress on arresting former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic. The Netherlands will only allow Serbia to start the European Union membership process if the government arrests Mladic. But Vladimir Todoric, a Serbian political analyst, believes that Serbia delays Mladic's arrest because his trial could reveal details about Serbia's involvement in the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

Poor Marlise: Her Old Allies Are Now Attacking the Tribunal and Even portraying the Serbs as Victims (October 30, 2008)

Some media cover the war in the former Yugoslavia and the proceedings of war criminals before the ICTY in a one-sided way. The New York Times for example did not pay attention to the Kosovo Albanian KLA, which killed many Serbs but instead focused on atrocities committed by the Serbs against Kosovars. Neither does the New York Times critically analyze the ICTY's case selection and proceedings. (ZNet)

Timeline: Radovan Karadzic Case (August 25, 2008)

This timeline from the International Center for Transitional Justice shows the events preceding the start of the Karadzic trial in July 2008 at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. Radovan Karadzic was the former president of the Republika Srpska and faces charges of crimes against humanity and genocide against more than 10,000 civilians in the period between 1992 and 1995.

Don't Forget Yugoslavia (August 8, 2008)

Former prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla Del Ponte, published her memoir 'The Hunt: Me and War Criminals' in 2008. Del Ponte argues that the US and the UK pressured her not to investigate the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia and Kosovo. Both of these countries were worried that Del Ponte would reveal that the alleged genocide against ethnic Albanians by the Serbs, with was the underlying reason for the NATO member states to bomb Serbia and Kosovo, did not take place. (Information Clearing House)

Which War Crimes Get Prosecuted? (July 25, 2008)

The Nuremberg Tribunal that prosecuted leaders of the German Nazi regime was a victor's tribunal, since atrocities by the US and Russia were not dealt with. Seventy-five percent of the persons indicted by the Yugoslavia Tribunal (ICTY) are Serbs or Montenegrins, whereas other groups like Croatians committed war crimes as well. In addition, NATO does not face accountability, although it illegally bombed Yugoslavia without Security Council permission. The author therefore argues that the ICTY is to some extent a victor's tribunal as well. (Dissident Voice)

Bosnian Serb Captured; Sought for War Crimes (July 22, 2008)

Radovan Karadzic, the former leader of the Serb Democratic Party, was arrested in Serbia after more than ten years of evading capture. Karadzic was indicted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity and accused of organizing the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica, Bosnia. The lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia (ICTY) claims the arrest "demonstrates that nobody is beyond the reach of the law." (Washington Post)

Still Waiting: Bringing Justice for War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, and Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina's Cantonal and District Courts (July 10, 2008)

Bosnia and Herzegovina's local courts face serious challenges in efficiently trying cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to this Human Rights Watch report. The report estimates that several thousand cases stemming from crimes committed during the 1992-95 Balkan War await trial. The report urges local courts and authorities to take advantage of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) liaison offices to obtain evidence for trials. Human Rights Watch argues that a sustained commitment by local Bosnian authorities and increased financial support from donor countries is necessary to improve the judicial system in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Oric Acquitted in Appeals Hearing (July 4, 2008)

The appeals chamber of the Hague tribunal acquitted former Bosnian commander Naser Oric of crimes committed against Serbs during the 1992-95 Balkan conflict. The appeals court overturned Oric's previous conviction of failing to prevent crimes committed by his subordinates. The appeals court claimed that the trial chamber "failed to make all the findings necessary to convict a person for command responsibility." Bosnian citizens welcomed the decision, saying it proved that the tribunal could make fair decisions in the face of political pressure. Serbia however called the verdict a "collapse of justice and of the tribunal." (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Serbia Snares Top Bosnian Serb War Crimes Fugitive (June 11, 2008)

Serbian police arrested Stojan Zupljanin near Belgrade, after nine years of evading capture. Zupljanin was one of the four most-wanted Serbs indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He is accused of taking part in the "execution of a campaign designed to destroy Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats" during the war in the 1990's. Zupljanin's arrest comes days after the chief prosecutor for the ICTY urged Serbia to do more to apprehend the remaining detainees. (Associated Press)

Shrinking the Space for Denial: The Impact of the ICTY in Serbia (May 2008)

This report looks at Serbia's sporadic cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The author applauds Serbian efforts in bringing Slobodan Miloševic before the ICTY, even though he died before being convicted, and for creating local war crime courts. However the failure to arrest two key participants in the atrocities, Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadžic, not only casts a shadow over the tribunal, it is also hinders a much needed debate on Serbia's exact role in the Balkan Wars. (Open Society Institute)

Bosnians Consider Del Ponte Legacy (January 24, 2008)

This Balkan Insight article evaluates Carla Del Ponte's legacy as former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former-Yugoslavia. Del Ponte resigned in December 2007 and Serge Brammertz replaced her in January 2008. Bosnian commentators are disappointed with the meager results of Del Ponte's term. Though the ICTY has made a number of convictions, former President Slobodan Milosovic died before a verdict was reached and fugitives Mladic and Karadzic remain at large.

2007

Western Promises (December 20, 2007)

This article discusses the book "Peace and Punishment: The Secret Wars of Politics and International Justice" by Florence Hartmann, a former official at the ICTY. Hartmann states that the US and other NATO members tried to hide evidence about Milosevic's leading role in Serbia's war crimes in Bosnia, because NATO wanted Milosevic to sign the Dayton accords in 1995. According to the former ICTY spokesperson, the US manipulated the "Kula Tape", which identified Milosevic as the brain behind crimes by Serbian forces. The ICTY charged Hartmann for contempt of court in August 2008. (The Nation)

General Who Led Siege of Sarajevo Jailed for 33 Years By UN War Crimes Tribunal (December 12, 2007)

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted Dragomir Milosevic for murder, inhumane acts and attacks against civilians. Milosevic led the Bosnian Serb force that entraped the city of Sarajevo during 1994 and 1995. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison. (UN News)

War Crimes Fugitive Mladic in Serbia: Prosecutor (December 6, 2007)

The UN tribunal looks for Ratke Mladic, a Bosnian Serb fugitive convicted of genocide in the Bosnia and Croatia war in the 1990s. Serbia's war prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, believes Mladic is hiding in Serbia, but the government affirms that if so, he would have been arrested. The UN tribunal continues to search for other indicted Serbians, which has been disrupting relations between Serbia and the European Union. (Reuters)

War Crimes Trial of Serb Ultranationalist to Start (November 6, 2007)

Vojislav Seselj, leader of Serbia's Radical Party turned himself in to the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2003. He will face trial and respond to charges of murder, torture, persecution, cruel treatment and deportation among other crimes, against non-Serb civilians. During the 1990 Yugoslavian separation war, Seselj acted to forcibly remove non-Serbs from parts of Croatia and Bosnia. He also made several racist speeches promoting hatred against non-Serbs. (Reuters)

Croats Call UN War Crimes Verdict "Shameful" (September 28, 2007)

The UN court in The Hague lightly sentenced former Yugoslav army officers responsible for the Vukovar massacre. The judges considered some of the victims as Croat fighters, not civilians and for that reason dismissed the charges of crimes against humanity. The Croatian people and government reject the sentences and demand punitive action from the United Nations on the case. (Reuters)

War Crime Lawyers Fight UN on Top Job: New Secretary General is Challenged Over 'Secret Appointment' to Replace Top Tribunal Prosecutor (September 23, 2007)

Senior lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) threaten to resign over the appointment of a new chief prosecutor in an apparent secret deal with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Commentators suggest the successor to chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte will be a 'newcomer', Belgian criminologist, Serge Brammertz. Senior lawyers at The Hague argue that the current deputy to Del Ponte, David Tolbert, should be appointed given his nine year experience at the tribunal. Meanwhile, Del Ponte traveled to Belgrade in an attempt to capture fugitives, General Ratko Mladic and former President Radovan Karadzic which would extend the tribunal's mandate to 2010. (Observer)

International Justice in the Dock (September 7, 2007)

The former spokeswoman to the Chief Prosecutor in the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Florence Hartmann, reveals that the Tribunal is a victim of political manipulation by foreign powers. The author documents the influence of the US and Britain in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic. According to Hartmann, the big powers restrict the flow of crucial information to the Tribunal, including documents which confirm the active role of Slobodan Milosevic in the war by the Bosnian Serbs in Pale. These "obstructionist strategies" by foreign powers undermines and weakens the operation of the Tribunal. (Le Temps)

ICTY Legacy (September 4, 2007)

Criticism is emerging as the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is moving towards a completion date in 2010 after 14 years of work. While most human rights and international justice NGOs commend the Tribunal on its contribution to international criminal law and praise it for laying the groundwork for other international courts, skeptics still question its validity. Criticisms focus on the lack of capacity to arrest the suspects, the impracticable number of charges that hinder the courts' productivity, the courts political stance and the fact that the ICTY will not be able to complete the large number of cases it took on. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

UN Prosecutors Outline French Criminal History of Croatian War Crimes Suspect (August 23, 2007)

UN prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ask the court to reject Ante Gotovina's temporary release request citing his conviction by a French court in 1980 and two other French convictions in absentia in the 1990s. Gotovina has not served either sentence. His lawyer, Luka Misetic, argues that Gotovina is innocent and the convictions are unauthentic. Gotovina was indicted by the ICTY in 2001 and he successfully avoided arrest for over four years before he was captured by Spanish police authorities. (Associated Press)

Srebrenica Massacre Verdict Sparks Outrage among Survivors (April 12, 2007)

A Serbian war crimes court convicted four members of the infamous "Scorpions" death squad for the 1995 murder of six Muslim men in Srebrenica. The ruling comes less than two months after the International Court of Justice confirmed that genocide did occur during the 1992-95 Balkan conflict but rejected claims of Serbia's involvement. Survivors denounced both the ICJ verdict and the length of the paramilitaries' jail terms as evidence of not only the "unwillingness to accept" the massacre but also "a larger pattern of impunity." (AdvocacyNet)

2006

The Hague Tribunal and Balkan Reconciliation (July 21, 2006)

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting reviews the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia's (ICTY) role in bringing stability to the Balkans. Critics say delayed efforts to involve communities in the tribunal's activities have compromised its ability to contribute significantly to the reconciliation process. On the other hand, the international community applauds ICTY's emphasis on the rule of law in rebuilding democracy.

Seven Serb Officers on Trial for Srebrenica Massacre (July 14, 2006)

Seven men face charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), accused of involvement in the 1995 mass killings of Bosnian Muslims. As the Hague-based court takes on its largest joint trial, two of the alleged masterminds of the genocide, General Ratko Mladic and political leader Radovan Karadzic, remain at large. (People's Daily Online)

Tribunal President Sets Fugitive Arrest Deadline (July 11, 2006)

Fausto Pocar, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), tells the Institute for War and Peace Reporting that the court must capture all remaining fugitives by the end of 2006. Pocar echoes the concerns of many that health issues, complex indictments and "major unforeseen problems" may prevent ICTY from meeting its 2009 deadline to complete all trial proceedings.

Trying War Criminals Locally (April 20, 2006)

The newly established War Crimes Court (WCC) in Bosnia and Herzegovina offers a new opportunity to try war criminals domestically. Many Bosnians were dissatisfied with their citizens' limited involvement in the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) and "standing on the sidelines" in the search for justice. But the WCC has experienced a rocky start – facing a corruption scandal, absent public profile and tense relationship with the ICTY in the first few months of operation. (New Republic)

Command Responsibility Convictions (March 17, 2006)

The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted its first indictees for crimes committed by subordinates. The two senior Bosnian Muslim commanders were convicted for the murder, cruel treatment and plunder of Bosnian Croat and Serb civilians carried out by their troops. ICTY rules state that "commanders bear individual criminal responsibility" for a subordinates' crime if they "fail to prevent illegal actions or do not punish the perpetrators." (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

2005

The Hague Tribunal: The Political Economy of Sham Justice (November 20, 2005)

In an article criticizing the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Edward S. Herman states that NATO countries, spearheaded by the US, set up the tribunal to cover up their own war crimes during the period of fighting in the Balkans. The use of rhetorical devices like calls for "justice", "reconciliation", and "retribution" actually mask NATO and the US' interventionist intentions. (Center for Research on Globalization)

Jury Still Out on Tribunal's Success (November 13, 2005)

Ten years after the end of war in the Balkans, critics and proponents alike have plenty to say about the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Some criticize the tribunal for taking too long, and for geographically removing justice proceedings from the region where crimes took place. Others, however, praise the ICTY for establishing sweeping reforms to international law and justice. "It's almost an assumption now that there will be a justice mechanism after conflict," said one expert. (Cox News Service)

Lukic Set to Face Trial for Visegrad Terror (August 10, 2005)

The arrest of Serb military leader and top war crimes suspect Milan Lukic ends speculations about his whereabouts and his mixed signals on surrendering to The Hague. Prosecutors at the tribunal hope that Lukic will provide information on sought after indictees Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Balkans: Karadzic and Mladic Are 'Everywhere But in The Hague' (July 28, 2005)

This Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty article offers speculations on the reasons why powerful international military forces remain unable to catch Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. Whether the two former Serb leaders remain at large due to unstated NATO policy, Muslim and Croatian politicians' fear of war secrets revelations or Serb authorities' unwillingness to take political risks, the author affirms that the fugitives are "a source of embarrassment" to NATO and former Yugoslavia Tribunal officials.

Pensions for War Criminals (July 25, 2005)

This Newsweek article indicates that the generous benefits paid to war criminals who turn themselves in to The Hague are damaging both to national reconciliation and to international justice. While the Serbian government has yet to make any legal provision for the victims of the war crimes, the criminals are celebrated as heroes, argues the author.

Nuremberg-Style Trial Planned for Bosnia's Worst Atrocity (July 15, 2005)

Urged by a 2008 completion deadline, prosecutors at the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have requested a joint trial for nine senior Bosnian army and police officers allegedly involved in the Srebrenica genocide. Critics warn that the seemingly speedy joint proceedings would in fact take more time and use more resources than individual trials, and that altering charges for logistical purposes would not be fair to the defendants. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Srebrenica Indictees: Is a Joint Trial the Way Forward for the ICTY? (July 9, 2005)

Ten years after the Srebrenica massacre and with only four of the nineteen accused facing sentences, Radio Netherlands explores the possibility of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia conducting joint trials for the alleged war crimes offenders. While joint proceedings could result in greater coherence in the treatment of charges, some lawyers at the tribunal are worried that they would be an "organizational nightmare."

War Crimes Prosecutions at The Hague Gather Steam under the Radar (June 12, 2005)

Following US and EU coordinated economic pressures, observers note that the Serbian government is finally making efforts to collaborate with the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. Most top officials accused of war crimes are already in The Hague, though military and political leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic remain at large. (Baltimore Sun)

Witness Intimidation a Serious Problem in Kosovo (April 1, 2005)

The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia must deal with the "widespread, systematic and potentially deadly" problem of witness intimidation when prosecuting former Kosovo Liberation Army officials. Albanian witnesses in particular often receive threats from associates of the accused. The Institute for War and Peace Reporting suggests that such intimidation stems from a culture that holds honor and loyalty in high esteem, but also from a fundamental lack of respect for the law.

Hague Court's Changing Role (March 17, 2005)

This article analyzes the progression of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia "from an unpromising experiment [to] a fully-fledged institution of international justice." It describes the tribunal's origins as "a salve for guilty consciences" but explains how it has evolved beyond this in line with increased cooperation by Balkan. (BBC)

Impunity for War Crimes Must End (March 16, 2005)

Amnesty International commends the EU Council's decision to delay accession talks with Croatia on account of Zagreb's non-cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY). Observers describe efforts by the Croatian justice system to investigate and prosecute its war criminals as "largely insufficient" and before EU talks can begin, the government must arrest and hand over former General Ante Gotovina to the ICTY.

UN War Crimes Tribunal Indicts Its Last Balkans War Suspect (March 15, 2005)

Prosecutors for the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) have issued their final indictment against the main Balkan war criminal suspects. Former Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski and his former bodyguard were charged with the murders of Albanians during the 2001 conflict. The ICTY must now race to complete trials by 2008 and appeals by 2010, but 17 indictees remain at large including the tribunal's most wanted: Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. (Agence France Presse)

The Flood of War Crimes Suspects (March 12, 2005)

The influx of high profile indictees at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia increases the likelihood that the court will complete its trials on schedule by 2008. It also further raises hopes that Bosnian Serb fugitives Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic could turn themselves in to the tribunal within a year. The fact that ten suspects surrendered voluntarily or after negotiations with their governments has improved the ICTY's legitimacy among Serbs, and signals the interest of Balkan states to cooperate in return for potential EU membership. (Associated Press)

Let the War Crimes Tribunal Do Its Work (March 9, 2005)

The International Herald Tribune declares that the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) "stands in between the Balkan nations, their past and their future." Cooperation with the tribunal is a precursor for Croatia and Serbia's accession to the EU, and Kosovo's reaction to the indictment of its Prime Minister will impact its bid for independence. As such, the article warns the Balkan countries against "downgrading the importance" of the ICTY.

Kosovo Chief Resigns and Surrenders to Hague Tribunal (March 9, 2005)

Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has resigned from office after the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia indicted him on unspecified charges for his actions as a guerrilla commander during the 1998 conflict. Haradinaj's surrender is the latest in a series of unprecedented high profile arrivals at The Hague, and has left Kosovo in "shock" over the resignation of a "popular war hero." (New York Times)

Bosnia to Open Own War Crimes Court (March 6, 2005)

The new Bosnian War Crimes Chamber in Sarajevo will begin taking over trials for some of the defendants originally indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. Observers see the Chamber's establishment as "a sign the country is able to deal with the legacy of its bloody past." But the fledgling court will face problems convincing Bosnian Serbs of its impartiality and persuading other former Yugoslav states to hand over suspects for trial. (Reuters)

'Crime of Opinion' Is One Thing, But War Crime Is Another (February 11, 2005)

The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia has indicted Vojislav Seselk for "incitement to commit (war) crimes" and participation in joint criminal enterprise. His supporters have denounced the first indictment as a frivolous "crime of opinion," and the second as "an offence unknown in any national jurisdiction." The author of this article, a Human Rights Watch researcher, rebuts these allegations by explaining the applicable customary international law and examining the background facts of the charges. (Danas)

Justice Seeks an Exit Strategy (January 7, 2005)

As the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia "enters [its] end game facing diminished resources and waning political will," this Taipei Times article speculates on what will happen to any unresolved cases in 2008. Transfer to national courts emerges as a likely, but unpromising option given the region's ineffectual track record in prosecuting its own war criminals.

Lengthy Hague Trials Under Scrutiny (January 7, 2005)

On average, defendants at The Hague spend one year and five months in pre-trial detention awaiting trials that can last years, and the appeals system further prolongs the ordeals. Observers blame long indictments, non-assertive judges and the "often-uneasy" blend of common and civil law for the delays. Institute for War and Peace Reporting debates whether the complexity of the trials really warrants such lengthy proceedings.
 

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