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Saturday, 30 June, 2001, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Milosevic trial: What now for the Balkans?
The former Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, is in custody in the Hague where he will become the first former head of state to appear before the International War Crimes Tribunal.
He will face charges of planning and ordering a campaign of terror, persecution and violence against the Kosovo Albanians at the end of the 1990s.
His extradition has strained Yugoslavia's governing coalition with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica denouncing the extradition as illegal and unconstitutional.
After handing over Mr Milosevic, Yugoslavia has been promised more than$1.2bn in desperately needed financial aid from international donors that is crucial for the country's economic recovery.
What do you think about the extradition of Slobodan Milosevic? What are the implications for the future of Yugoslavia and the Balkan region? If you are from the former Yugoslavia what does this moment mean for you?
We will be discussing the extradition of Slobodan Milosevic and the implications for the Balkan region on Sunday in a Talking Point phone-in programme broadcast on BBC World Service Radio and on BBC News Online at 1500 BST (1400 GMT). If you would like to take part, please include a telephone number with your comments where we may contact you.
I am ashamed to be a Serb, my country has sold out one of its sons. Who cares whether he's a criminal, we lost our pride and sovereignty. Never has another country sold their leader for 1 billion non-delivered dollars.
Thanks to Mr Milosevic (but not only him, I agree)10 million people spent 12 years suffering, loosing their dearest ones, and their homes. What is one arrest compared to that? With what sentence can dead become alive again? But at least, last night Mr Milosevic and his family spent one sleepless night. At least that.
Ivan, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Serbia has done the right thing , by sending Milosevic to the Hague. I ask you when will Croatia , Bosnian Federation, Nato do the same?
I don't think Croatia will ever send their generals or politicians to the kangaroo court .How many
Serbs where killed in Krajina and how many where forced out of their homes? No kangaroo court for the Croats
I'm thankful Milosevic is headed to the Hague for the sake of Croatia. Not just for vengeance's sake (though admittedly that has a part), but because it will be easier for the Croatian government to extradite its alleged war criminals in the eyes of the Croatian public. When Croatia's General Blaskic received his 40+ year sentence it was the first real destabilizer to the new-at-that-time Croatian government. The fact that the primary aggressors weren't being pursued made it difficult for Croatia to comply. Now with some Serbs on the dock, Croatia can flush a few more of its war scum out. Now let's see them bring in Mladic and Karazdic and then we'll have a fairer set of trials in a regional sense.
Ivan, Zagreb, Croatia
If anybody should put Milosevic on trial it should be the Serbs. And if somebody should extradite someone that would have to be USA, Germany, UK, France.
He is responsible for losing territories and Serbian lives. This is the greatest shame in the history of the Serbs. I only know that I could not live with myself if i had to extradite someone like Djindjic did.
The only reason Slobodan Milosevic was handed over because Serbian people accuse him for losing four wars in less than 10 years, not because they think he was responsible for atrocities committed against humanity. Once they hand Karadjic and Mladic we may say that the Serbian people have purged themselves like the Germans did after the Second World War.
Now, when Milosevic is on the way to Hague, I can see many killers smiling, defending themselves and trying to find justification for what they did. Yes I am talking about General Clark, Tony Blair, Gerhard Shroeder, Jaimy Shea and more. Since they need to clean themselves, I don't think they will let Milosevic have a fair trial, because fair trial would show the world real criminals - Albanians and Nato.
It is not possible for him to have a fair trial, simply because the sentence that would be fair, for the things he did, does not exist. If he would live for another 1,000 years he could not repay for the suffering he caused.
I think it's great that finally my brutal history is exported to Holland. I'm so glad that I have a smart prime minister. Now someone should charge Albanians for their crimes, Serbs are not the only bad ones.
Since the Serbian government ignored a ruling of the Federation Constitutional Court, one might have some doubts as to whether the rule of law exists in the FRY, but that is an internal matter for that country to sort out. There is no doubt that as a matter of international law Milosevic had to be handed over.
The next question is, when are Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic going to The Hague? They are rumoured to be living in the eastern Republika Srpska. Mladic is said actually to be enjoying the protection of the Republika Srpska army, which the Republika Srpska government denies. Their transfer to The Hague would certainly be a major contribution to the Bosnian peace process. It is now time to order SFOR to find them and arrest them. There is no satisfactory answer to the question why this has not already been done.
Peter, Bosnia and Herzegovina (expat)
No, he will not get a fair trial, but you will certainly have something to write about and some politically engaged "lawyers" will boost their careers.
Remember George Orwell's proverb: "All creatures are equal but some are more equal then others" What about the Croatian, Kosovo-Albanian, Bosniak and Western War Criminals?
Milosevic will not get a fair trial - the ludicrous Lockerbie judgement is proof of that. Why are new charges relating to Bosnia and Croatia being cooked up if the evidence relating to Kosovo was so convincing? Milosevic has been declared a war criminal by Clinton, Blair, Cook etc. so it will take brave judges to defy them. There are none at The Hague.
Just to inform you how much the US Government recognizes The Hague. Our government is in the process of passing a bill (introduced by Senator Helms) which would prevent extradition of US citizens to the Hague.
I smell a double standard!
While I reckon Milosevic is a monster and no sentence will ever truly reflect the suffering he has inflicted I wonder how the West will react when the rest of this story is played out? By this I mean, given the history of the Balkans it is only a matter of time before the Albanian Muslim community come looking for payback and commit atrocities of their own. Be it in Macedonia or "cleansing" Kosovo. Will the west bring their former protected peoples to The Hague then? I suspect there will be plenty of double standards on offer.
What justice your are talking about? Real justice or, how the "little Clark", Clinton, Blair and others imagine it. Is Milosevic guilty, more or less (and is he only one) is the matter of real justice. I think that he has the big role in all bad things in last 12 years on the Balkan, but what about the others - Tudjman, Izetbegovic etc. I don't even see any intention by the The Hague tribunal to clear it. The only obvious fact (there are 10 million witnesses) is against Nato after bombing Yugoslavia. What more does Miss Carla del Ponte need? Who rules in The Hague (justice or NATO we will see) after Milosevic's trial and the steps of the court concerning the NATO leaders). Don't speak to me about "the humanitarian bombing", please it is the most cynical idea I ever heard.
It is a great shame that a country has had to resort to "sale" of its former leader. If the new leaders in Serbia had proceeded with the extradition right from the time they took over this would have been credible and commendable in the eyes of many. BUT to do so only on the promise of money turns the whole thing into an outright sale. First there was the offer of $50m, then he was arrested immediately in the middle of the night. Now there is an offer of $1.25bn on the table, and he is suddenly extradited, even before the proceedings of the constitutional court are finalised! Whilst I am not at all against Milosevic standing trial for crimes against humanity, the manner in which the new leaders in Serbia have handled the matter is a cause for concern. Look at the division it is causing already - the president is against the extradition - and who knows what may follow next?
Gorazd Cvetic, Valparaiso, Chile
I think it is funny. That a nation can basically sell one of their own leaders. I wish the worse for Milosevic, he is a killer. But the Serbs are selling out to the West. History will remember this as a Serbian embarrassment.
Fairness of the trial is not the issue but whether we the Serbs will, during or after this trial, finally come to terms with our past and see the options. Whether we will get real .
Unfortunately the new govt in Serbia failed to reform the judicial system fast enough to accommodate a fair trial in Serbia (their own Prime Minister admitted this yesterday) - there is no alternative if Serbia is going to put the past behind them and start building democratic institutions. Above all they and the rest of the world must give up the idea that there is any such thing as Yugoslavia - this died with Tito and the subsequent recognition by Germany of Slovenia. The next big problem is how to make the Albanians realise that they won't be allowed to break up Macedonia.
The Balkans will remain a political hot potato for a long time. Since the assassination of the Archduke of Ferdinand in the region, that sparked the First World War, it seems the curse has taken root their. There is no quick solution to the region. Over a period of time, the west should continue influencing constructive dialogues with the reform minded Balkans and reward them with aid to keep their countries in good economic shape.
Milosevic will have his say in court to defend himself. That is more than any of his opponents got and that includes Serbs amongsts the Bosnians, the Croats and the Kosovars.
The trial is already finished.
The very handover means the country is sold. It responded to the "if you don't give him up, you won't get aid/cheque".
This statement in itself blantantly ignored the chance of reviving democracy in Yugoslavia (in having Milosevic trialed at home).
This clearly incourages instability of Kostunica's government - who is the only decent man there and very alone.
How so - you may wonder? Because Milosevic has been ransomed against the law - and one thing Kostunica is trying to establish is law and order - for a start. And that has been taken away now.
Tell me,who shall I thank for this so called victory of "democracy and justice? "
It's a victory of a muscle over an already broken country.
He wasn't alone at least 50 % of the Serb population needs to go there with him.
Remember Vietnam? Any war criminals brought to "justice"?
How come Pinochet wasn't extradited and Milosevic was?
I'll tell you why - Pinochet was more friendly to the western world and an 'ally' and Milosevic wasn't. Bring the bad guys from all sides to trial and it'll be different.
Until this happens, he won't get a fair trial.
My friend is Serbian and she's not happy - she wanted him to be tried for war crimes in Serbia under Serbian law.
This is the first time a Head of State is tried by an international court. That fact alone suggest that objectivity is impossible, as there is no previous case law. Rather, the judgement will be passed based on judges' opinions, which must be heavily influenced already, after ten years of Milosevic being on the front pages.
Ron Dyce, Moldova
Firstly, Milosevic was NOT a dictator but a democratically elected President. Secondly, so okay he's being tried but what about those that carried out crimes against the Serbs. I'm no fan of this guy but it takes two to tango. The West only see Milosevic and the Serbs as the bad guys... the Serbs are also victims!
It is going to be very difficult for Milosevic to get a fair trial when Karazdic and Mladic have not been brought to justice, and Tudjman is dead. I suspect Milosevic will end up a scapegoat for all that went wrong in the former Yugoslavia.
The fairness of the trial depends on the make-up of the UN court. If the US muscles its way into being judge, jury, and executioner, Milosevic is as good as guilty. If he is rightfully tried by a jury of non-US and non-Kosovo peacekeeping related allies, true justice, the only justice that is supposed to come from the UN, will be served.
Not only should justice be done, it should also seen to be done. The Hague court is widely perceived to be a kangaroo court - a creation of Nato and the West, established to provide a fig leaf to cloak the furtherance of Western political and economic interests.
A fair trial? That depends on who decides what is fair. Serbs will feel hard done by if Milosevic is tried, as others who committed crimes against them have not been tried. Until all war criminals are brought before the international tribunal, questions will remain concerning its political motives and impartiality.
Of course Milosevic won't receive a fair trial. Nato and its cohorts need to put together their neat and packaged history of all the Balkan wars and blame it on Milosevic and his aides so that they can brush aside the complications of the wars which their actions probably led up to creating.
There is no way that Milosevic will get a fair trial, the court in the Hague is explicitly biased against Serbs. What kind of court has "secret" witnesses and sealed indictments? How could you prepare a defence?
Given the fact that major Western powers have already declared Milosevic a criminal and made him responsible for all crimes and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, a fair trial is highly unlikely. The only purpose of his trial would be to justify the Western policy, namely the military intervention against Yugoslavia.
There is no doubt that Milosevic is guilty of multiple war crimes and he should be punished and harshly. This question is moot. Imagine people asking, at the end of World War II, "Will Hitler face a fair trial?"
He will not, at least, face the arbitrary injustice and random terror that he inflicted on so many innocent souls in his country.
Is it possible to even expect a fair trial when it is linked with economic benefits from a country that declines the idea of joining the international criminal court. It is not pardonable what Milosevic did, but to be brought to "justice" by a nation and its allies who are not very far from being the same seems ironic.
Of course not !
The Hague court is a political instrument formed by US and other countries from Nato. It had to justify the crimes Nato committed bombing Yugoslavia. As we all know, the winners write the history.
He won't receive a fair trial, but then everybody knows he is guilty so he'll get what he deserves. The broader question is: How credible is the war crimes tribunal when it continues to prosecute only one side? Until we see some Nato generals or Western politicians answering for their actions, it will always been viewed by the rest of the world as a Western "kangaroo court" that deflects attention away from human rights violations carried out by more powerful Western nations.
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