DID YOU KNOW?  -- Three years before the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, Serbs torched Bosniak villages and killed at least 3,166 Bosniaks around Srebrenica. In 1993, the UN described the besieged situation in Srebrenica as a "slow-motion process of genocide." In July 1995, Serbs forcibly expelled 25,000 Bosniaks, brutally raped many women and girls, and systematically killed 8,000+ men and boys (DNA confirmed).

04 March, 2008


The Incompetence of Bosnia's Legal Team Saved Serbia from Conviction on All Counts at the International Court of Justice

Update note, March 10, 2008: Thank you for your comments. I am moving excerpts of Owen's comment (quoting the Judge Al-Khasawneh) on top:

"The 'effective control' test for attribution established in the Nicaragua case is not suitable to questions of State responsibility for international crimes committed with a common purpose. The 'overall control' test for attribution established in the Tadić case is more appropriate when the commission of international crimes is the common objective of the controlling State and the non-State actors. The Court’s refusal to infer genocidal intent from a consistent pattern of conduct in Bosnia and Herzegovina is inconsistent with the established jurisprudence of the ICTY. The FRY’s knowledge of the genocide set to unfold in Srebrenica is clearly established. The Court should have treated the Scorpions as a de jure organ of the FRY. The statement by the Serbian Council of Ministers in response to the massacre of Muslim men by the Scorpions amounted to an admission of responsibility. The Court failed to appreciate the definitional complexity of the crime of genocide and to assess the facts before it accordingly."

Recently, Slobodan Kostic, a Serbian journalist from Belgrade, wrote an excellent article for IWPR titled How Belgrade Escaped Genocide Charge.

The article details some of the steps Serbia took to successfully block the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from disclosing extremely sensitive transcripts of meetings the Serbian Supreme Defence Council held between 1992 and 1995.

As Slobodan Kostic points out and we agree with him, quote:

"It is widely believed that the transcripts, which record the meetings of top officials, contain evidence of Belgrade's direct involvement in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s."

In a case of Bosnia vs Serbia, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Serbia liable for violating the obligation to prevent genocide, under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in respect of the genocide that occurred in Srebrenica in July 1995. The same Court found Serbia not to be directly liable for Srebrenica genocide and shifted responsibility for the Genocide to the Government of Republika Srpska (Serb-controlled portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina).

PHOTO CAPTION: Photos of the Srebrenica Genocide billboard in Belgrade vandalized with the message threatening a repeat of Srebrenica genocide: 'There's going to be a rerun'.

The question remains: If one day victims get their way and Serbia makes sensitive transcripts public, will the authenticity of these transcripts be compromised in the meantime? After all, Serbia had plenty of time to forge whatever documents they wished. What stops Serbia and Republika Srpska from forging military orders so they comply with Geneva Convention?

It is important to note - and most people don't realize this fact - the Prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal proved an international armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina
no less than five times, confirming Serbia's direct involvement in a full blown international attack on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Here is an excerpt of ICTY judgment confirming Belgrade's full control over Bosnian Serbs (financial, logistical, and more importantly in direction, coordination and supervision of the activities of the Serb Army, VRS):

Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, paras. 156, 162: “It is sufficient to show that [the Yugoslav Army] exercised overall control over the Bosnian Serb Forces. Such control manifested itself not only in financial, logistical and other assistance and support, but also, and more importantly, in terms of participation in the general direction, coordination and supervision of the activities and operations of the VRS [the Army ofthe Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina/Republika Srpska]. This sort of control is sufficient for the purposes of the legal criteria required by international law.” “[F]or the period material to this case (1992), the armed forces of the Republika Srpska were to be regarded as acting under the overall control of and on behalf of the FRY [the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)]. Hence, even after 19 May 1992 the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina between the Bosnian Serbs and the central authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be classified as an international armed conflict.” See also Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, para. 87. [read more...]

The legal team of Bosnia-Herzegovina had all the tools at their disposal to win the full judgment against Serbia, but what they lacked was wisdom and intelligence to present the case properly. For example, they could more aggressively object courts' refusal to use the 'overall control' test for attribution established in the Tadić case.

Nevertheless, there was Genocide in Bosnia. While ICJ confirmed Srebrenica genocide, another European Court handed down Bosnian genocide judgment. It should be noted that on September 26th 1997, Germany handed down the first Bosnian Genocide conviction to Serb soldier Nikola Jorgic for crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In reviewing the case in the judgement of Nikola Jorgic v. Germany on 12 July 2007 the European Court of Human Rights upheld Bosnian Genocide conviction.