Destinations Magazine

Balkan War-crimes: Winding Down with a Whimper

By Stizzard

THE International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was set up 20 years ago, is winding down amid controversy. Recent judgments have shocked supporters of the tribunal and left many in the former Yugoslavia stunned. Refik Hodzic, a Bosnian and former spokesman for the ICTY, says that it is no longer “our court” and that it is now undergoing a “baffling self-destruction”.On May 30th the tribunal in The Hague acquitted the former head of Serbia’s secret police and his right-hand man. The judgment offered great detail about the various militias they had formed, trained and financed and the crimes these had committed, but argued that there was no evidence that the accused had ordered these crimes. A day earlier six Bosnian Croats were convicted. Direct links between them and their crimes had been established.Eric Gordy of London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies says that the standards for convictions have changed in the last few months compared with earlier judgments. It is no longer enough “to have provided the resources to have committed a crime…you needed specific knowledge of it”. According to a court insider, some people already jailed would not have been convicted under the court’s new doctrine. He added that the latest judgments will have consequences for the future of international justice because they have weakened the criteria for…

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