Milosevic’s demise a death sentence to Hague Tribunal

13.03.06

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Romanov.)

The death of Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia, is a death sentence to the Hague Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Milosevic was the main culprit for the prosecution team led by Carla del Ponte and it based its strategy accordingly.

They needed to pass a verdict of “guilty” on him to prove that he alone is to blame for the barbarous bombings of Serbia and to whitewash the Western “peacekeepers” in Kosovo, who had changed the pole of violence to its opposite. Before their deployment, Serbs were killing Kosovo Albanians; after it, the situation was reversed. And lastly, the West needed to put the blame on Milosevic so as to convince many Serbs that he is not a national hero but a ruthless dictator.

But the West and Carla del Ponte have lost this battle, which is not surprising. She used all of her cases for personal promotion rather than for the pursuit of truth. The whole of Western jurisdiction has lost a battle to one man. Opinions of Milosevic may differ, but he was a brilliant lawyer who spoke in court not as a defendant but as a prosecutor. Many of his arguments were more respectable than the words of Ms. del Ponte.

The Hague Tribunal has also suffered a moral defeat. Its reputation has been damaged by several suspected suicides and the death of the main defendant, who had asked for medical assistance many times. Moreover, all of the deceased were Serbs. The official cause of Milosevic’s death has not been made public yet, but two of the aired possibilities sound as a death sentence.

If the version of poisoning is confirmed, it may be used as a reason for a serious investigation, especially because there was a motive. The trial had reached a blind alley, and quite a few people wanted Milosevic dead. The legal adviser of the deceased showed journalists a letter dated March 10, the day before Milosevic was found dead in his cell. In it the former Serbian leader claimed he was poisoned.

If the conclusion is a heart attack, the guilt of the Tribunal will be apparent. Milosevic regularly complained about feeling unwell and asked to be allowed to undergo medical treatment in Moscow.

Professor Dr. Leo Bokeria, chief cardiac surgeon of the Russian Health Ministry, who saw the medical case of Milosevic kept by the court medics, said it was confusing and the doctors’ recommendations were not suited to the gravity of the defendant’s disease. The Russian doctor said Milosevic had needed an emergency operation, and Russia was ready to perform it, though not because it loved the Serbian prisoner. Russia would have done it for humanitarian considerations and returned Milosevic to The Hague after a proper rehabilitation period.

The Tribunal rejected the offer and questioned the qualifications of Russian doctors and the intentions of the Russian government, thus publicly offending a permanent member of the UN Security Council. When Carla del Ponte was asked if she was sorry she had not allowed Milosevic to undergo medical treatment in Moscow, she replied: “Why should I be? There was a possibility that he would not return to The Hague for the trial. I have nothing to be sorry about.”

Milosevic’s conscience was not very clean, but the conscience of Western politics is not lilywhite either. There was a reason for putting Slobodan Milosevic on trial. But many Western officials should have been tried together with him for deliberately dismembering Yugoslavia and destroying and humiliating Serbs.

Likewise, Saddam Hussein should be tried together with those who launched the Iraqi war, used the prohibited chemical weapons to bomb Fallujah, kept prisoners at Guantanamo indefinitely, and turned the Abu Ghraib prison into inquisition cells, just as Saddam Hussein had done in his time.

A fair court carefully analyzes all circumstances of a case before formulating the verdict and charges everyone who is to blame irrespective of political considerations and rank. Otherwise it is not a fair trial but a kangaroo court.

The Hague Tribunal has died as a court one can trust.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

-0-