Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
The extradition of former Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic on Wednesday to
face genocide charges in The Hague sends
a signal that the international community
means business in bringing fugitives to
Reinforcing the same message,
Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor
of the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia, called again
for the arrest of Bosnian Serb wartime
commander Ratko Mladic. Like Karadzic,
Mladic is accused of genocide over the
43-month siege of Sarajevo and the 1995
massacre of some 8,000 Muslims at
This ought to ring alarm bells for Sudan’s president, Omar
Hassan al-Bashir, who is also accused of war crimes. But world
leaders are also sending other signals which may ease any
concerns he has that he may soon be arrested.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC)
prosecutor, has charged Bashir with masterminding a campaign of
genocide in Darfur, killing 35,000 people and persecuting 2.5
million. But the U.N. Security Council is divided over his calls
for an arrest warrant against Bashir. Some countries hope the
ICC will halt any genocide indictment in the interests of peace,
fearing any attempt to arrest him could cause more bloodshed.
Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa’s ambassador to the United
Nations, made this clear on Tuesday as the U.N Security Council
prepared to consider a South African and Libyan proposal that it
call on the ICC’s judges to refrain from taking any action.
“We are not saying ‘stop doing it’ to the prosecutor of the
ICC,” the ambassador said.
“We are saying, give peace a chance, can you just give it a
year, let’s see UNAMID deployed,” Kumalo said, referring to the
U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
UNAMID’s mandate expires on Thursday and Britain has drafted
a resolution on extending the mandate until July 31, 2009. But
South Africa and Libya want to insert a paragraph calling for a
suspension of any ICC moves. Such moves suggest Bashir, who
denies the charges against him, is unlikely to be arrested any
If arrested, Bashir would follow prominent figures such as Karadzic,
late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, former Liberian President
Charles Taylor and Congolese former rebel warlord and vice-president
Jean-Pierre Bemba into the dock.
Taylor is accused by the U.N. -backed Special Court for Sierra
Leone of orchestrating rebel atrocities during Sierra Leone’s
1991-2002 conflict. Milosevic died in detention in 2006 before a
verdict was reached in his trial on genocide charges. Bemba is
accused by the ICC of leading Congolese rebels in a campaign
of rape and torture in the Central African Republic in 2002 and
The chances of Karadzic or Milosevic being arrested and
brought to trial initially seemed slim, but political changes in
Serbia — namely the appointment of a Western-leaning government
keen to join the European Union — helped secure his arrest.
Bashir’s arrest is more complicated as he is a sitting head
of state. It also appears to depend heavily on political will
and political change — but are there any signs of this? Should
Karadzic’s arrest and detention give Bashir any real cause for
The capture of Radovan Karadzic
after 11 years on the run is likely
to improve Serbia’s chances of joining
the European Union and enhance the
new government’s credentials with EU
leaders. It also gives ordinary Serbs hope
of a better life, 17 years after the start of
the wars that preceded the break-up of
Karadzic wanted Serb areas of Bosnia to be linked to a greater
Serbia at a time when Slobodan Milosevic was fanning nationalism in
Serbia. When I first met him in November 1990, he was already
warning of civil war because of what he saw as a conspiracy against
Serbs in multi-ethnic Bosnia.
He still has some die-hard supporters in Serbia but
otherwise there is little sympathy for the man facing genocide
charges over the deaths of about 100,000 people in the siege of
Sarajevo and 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town of
Srebrenica during the war.
The U.S.-brokered Dayton peace agreement ended the war
without a clear winner, dividing the country into two
ethnic-based halves — the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb
Republic, which have co-existed in an uneasy alliance since.
Karadzic’s arrest sets the stage for a major trial at the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia,
created 15 years ago to prosecute war crimes committed during
the 1992-95 Bosnia war. Milosevic, his former ally, went on
trial at the ICTY on genocide charges but died in 2003 before
the end of the trial.
Avril McDonald, an associate lecturer at Groningen
University and a specialist on the tribunal’s proceedings, says
the Office of the Prosecutor will need to deliver a speedy and
efficient trial as the tribunal faces a deadline to wrap up
proceedings within the next couple of years. “The trial
doesn’t need to last more than a year,” McDonald said.
“They will try to get a conviction quickly.”
During Milosevic’s four-year trial, prosecutors called
nearly 300 witnesses and the annual budget at times ran to more
than $270 million. Milosevic chose to defend himself and used
the tribunal as a platform to advance his political views and
Critics fear Karadzic could do the same. Costs will be high.
But the arrest and trial offers many individuals a chance of
some closure on a bloody chapter in their personal lives. It
also represents an opportunity for Serbia to finally move on
after a violent period of recent history.
“They can now begin to put the past behind them and move
forward towards Europe,” said Paddy Ashdown, who for almost four
years was peace overseer in Bosnia.
On Friday I wrote that the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor was readying a genocide charge and arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. It came to pass today. A defiant Khartoum has said it will not bend to the court and has warned of an eruption of violence; the opposition too has said the warrant could threaten peace. Is this a case of justice versus peace and do the two have to be irreconcilable?
Here’s Friday’s blog:
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court are readying arrest warrants for senior Sudanese officials, possibly even President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, sources at The Hague court have told Reuters. The Washington Post said it understood Bashir would face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.