Hague Tribunal Invited Me To Ask Questions for Weekly Press Briefing

I was officially invited by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to “ask any questions regarding specific cases, or the ICTY’s work in general” for a weekly press briefing that is scheduled to be held on Wednesdays at 12pm. They contacted me via official Twitter account of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Questions submitted by Daniel Toljaga

Thank you for publicly inviting me to submit questions to the International Criminal Tribunal. I will limit my privilege to three questions, hoping you may return the favour and answer them briefly. There are three serious issues I would like to address:

1. The Office of the Prosecutor is currently seeking two separate trials for Ratko Mladic, first for genocide at Srebrenica and second for the siege of Sarajevo. Does that mean that the Hague Tribunal is not interested in proving the second count of the Bosnian Genocide that Mladic is charged to have committed in the municipalities outside of Srebrenica, namely in: Bratunac, Foča, Ključ, Kotor Varoš, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Vlasenica and Zvornik, as charged in his indictment? (see: Par. 35-37, 40-41 of the 2nd amended indictment)

2. Bosniaks were the primary victims of Serb campaign of persecution in and around Srebrenica and all over eastern Bosnia and the court never shied away from admitting it. However, many survivors of the Srebrenica siege told me they were offended by some writings on your web site. A crucial section of your web site contains a misleading summary for Srebrenica.

The summary, appearing on the “Interactive Map” of ICTY cases, states that “Srebrenica… was an enclave under the control of Bosnian Army, housing thousands of Bosnian Muslims from surrounding areas. Over a period of years, Bosnian Serbs besieged the enclave frequently shelling it, while Bosnian forces operating from the enclave attacked surrounding Serb villages. The tribunal found that between June 1992 and March 1993, a number of Serbs were captured by Bosnian Muslim forces and confined at the Srebrenica Police Station…” etc… Does the Court consider that this summary adequately refletcs its judicial findings?

The above summary is misleading because of the disproportionate weight that this ‘description’ of events gives to one element of the narrative (Bosniak defensive attacks on the heavily armed Serb villages, see for example: Oric Trial Judgement Par. 662, 664, 670-671), diluting the substance of the Tribunal’s findings that Serb forces constantly attacked Bosniak Muslim villages and committed ghastly massacres against the Bosniak civilians in villages around Srebrenica three years before the 1995 Srebrenica massacre (for example, see: Oric Trial Judgement Par. 103, 108-111, and Deronjic Sentencing Judgement Par: 13-32. Also, see my “Prelude to the Srebrenica Genocide” for a list of massacres committed by Serb forces). 

3. In Krajisnik’s Trial Judgement, both the Court and the Office of the Prosecutor appear to have accepted an inaccurate and misleading version of the Chetnik involvement in World War II. For example, Par. 13 (citing “adjudicated facts”)  inaccurately states: “Whereas the strongly nationalist Ustasha forces of the Croatian state supported the occupying powers, the Chetniks, Serb nationalist forces, and the partisans, a largely Communist and Serb group, both opposed the German and Italian forces.”

Certain “proposed facts” should not be allowed to become “adjudicated facts” just because they were based on a discussion of evidence or a testimony from Serbian experts, and not a factual finding.  While the Chetniks did collaborate with the Resistance, they were also significantly involved in collaboration with the German Nazis and Italian Fascists.

According to the US Holocaust Museum:

“In addition to the [Nazi collaborationist] puppet Nedic government in Serbia, which had both a gendarmerie and a political police department, the Germans relied on Albanian bureaucrats, Bulgarian military and police officials, Hungarian gendarmes, and the Croat government establishment along with the Ustasa militia to implement German policy in occupied and dismembered Yugoslavia. All were involved in the deportation and/or murder of Jews, Roma, Communists, and other political opponents in Yugoslavia. In combating the Communist-led partisans, the Germans and especially the Italians were able to count on some collaboration from Mihailovic’s Cetniks, whose leaders, as it became clear that Germany would lose the war, sought to inflict damage on the Communists rather than the Axis.”

According to Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in Jerusalem:

“The Chetniks’ struggle with the invaders came to a complete stop at the end of 1941, and gradually evolved into cooperation with the Italians and the Germans against Tito… By the end of 1943, the break between the West and the Chetniks was complete. The Chetniks became collaborators and joined the forces fighting the partisans… At the initial stage, there were some Jews among the Chetniks, but when it turned out that the Chetniks were not fighting the invaders and their collaborators, and in fact were inclined to cooperate with them, the Jews switched to the ranks of the partisans. As the Chetniks increased their cooperation with the Germans, their attitude toward the Jews in the areas under their control deteriorated, and they identified the Jews with the hated Communists. There were many instances of Chetniks murdering Jews or handing them over to the Germans.”

I would like to know whether the ICTY has a procedure for considering and correcting errors that are subsequently drawn to its attention, and if not, is there not a risk of the Tribunal failing in its mandate by risking contamination of the historical record?

Respectfully,

Daniel Toljaga

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