by Christopher C. Black, 20 March, 2019
The following was in response to a Vecernje Novine, Belgrade’s Evening News daily, request for comment.
A Serbian journalist asked me what I thought of this expected judgement two days ago. Here are his questions and my answers to put this travesty in perspective:
Question: What do you think about the verdict?
Answer: The same thing I think about all the ICTY “judgements” so called. They are not worth the paper they are written on. The ICTY is an illegitimate tribunal. Its decisions have no valid legal standing. On top of that the Karadzic trial, like all the other trials [held at the ICTY], was a travesty in which the main witnesses against him were NATO officers and “experts” and in which the judges relied heavily on statements of witnesses handed to them by the prosecution without any cross-examination of the people that made the statements; in which there seems to have been no cross-examination of the witnesses on how they came into contact with the prosecutors and how their statements were made; in which the defence is hardly mentioned, so that in effect the defence was almost completely ignored and dismissed if it contradicted the prosecution version of events; in which the judges treated the accused and defence counsel with contempt and in which they violated all accepted standards of fair trials: the right to make full answer and defence, the right to presumption of innocence, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the right to call witnesses, and of course the right not to have hearsay evidence used against the accused. This was not a trial but a charade, a staged drama, with an outcome scripted in advance by the NATO powers.
Question: Did you expect this verdict?
Answer: Yes, of course, how could it be otherwise when this is not a tribunal fixed on rendering justice but is instead just a propaganda organ of NATO, whose role is to make scapegoats of the defeated for NATO’s crimes.
Question: In Serbia, they hoped that the second-instance verdict would be milder because the attorneys managed to give sufficient evidence to the Trial Panel on the depositor of Radovan Karadzic. They were hoping to be released. What do you think about this?
Answer: This is to believe in illusions in this case. The ICTY and ICTR have acquitted accused. They acquitted the general I defended at the Rwanda tribunal. He was not guilty of any of the charges. Karadzic is not guilty either, from what I read in the trial judgement. But guilt or innnocence does not matter to them. The general I defended was acquitted because they wanted to acquit him for political reasons. Karadzic was convicted, though innocent, for political reasons. These are political trials. They framed up General Krstic for political reasons but let General Perisic go for political reasons. Same with Sesejl. These judgments serve their interests.
Question: Trial Chamber of Ratko Mladic changed whether his second-instance verdict could be milder?
Answer: I do not understand this question. If you are asking whether the judgement in the Trial Judgement provided any grounds for a milder sentence on the appeal, yes, in fact the trial judgement gave grounds for throwing out the conviction and releasing him or for a retrial because it appears from that judgement that there was no fair trial. The defence appealed on those grounds. In a normal court they should win, but as I say this is not a court in any sense and they do what they want and they do not want to release Karadic because then the NATO narrative about the war falls apart and with it the justification for bombing Serbia.
Question: You have always been critical of the tribunal of The Hague. What, in your opinion, has been shown by their verdict?
Answer: Once again the verdict reveals the NATO tribunal, the ICTY to be nothing more or less than a propaganda organ of NATO.
Question: The Hague Tribunal should start working on a KLA Albanian KLA who committed crimes against Serbs. Do you think that he will be as strict as the Serbs?
Answer: I am not sure what you are referring to. The ICTY is now closed and its residual functions handed over to the MICT, the Mechanism, and there will be no further trials. If you are referring to the ICC, their jurisdiction goes back to 2003 so crimes committed before that are outside their jurisdiction.
Question: Europe is talking about a common court for Islamist citizens of European countries who have fought for the Islamic state in Syria and Iraq and are now in prison camps. Whether making such a court does not matter how dangerous these people are without a check to let them walk in Europe.
Answer: The Europeans, both Muslim and non-Muslims, who fought against the Syrian government were trained and armed by those same countries and the US, etc. Syria holds them as prisoners but does not want them on its hands forever, so we can expect Syria to deport them back to their countries of origin. If those countries refuse to accept them, then Syria will be left to solve this problem. Whether they are dangerous to Europe is difficult to say. Canada just took in several hundred of these people, calling themselves
the White Helmets, and the Canadian government sees no problem in taking them in even though Canadians do not like these terrorists being allowed into the country. But they are allowed in because they served NATO interests just as the KLA serve their interests.
End of answers.
Christopher Black is a Canadian international criminal and human rights lawyer. He was Chair of the Legal Committee for the International Committee for the Defence of Slobodan Milosevic and vice-chair of the overall committee, and was Lead Defence Counsel at the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal in the case of General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, Chief of Staff, Rwanda Gendarmerie and won his acquittal on all charges in 2014. He was one of the advisers to President Milosevic until his death in 2006 and also worked on other cases at the Yugoslav and Rwanda tribunals.