Was there political interference in the trial of Slobodan Milošević? Could justice ever have been achieved? Was evidence obscured to save the blushes of other countries involved, regardless of the cost?
Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the person who led the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, discusses some issues relating to the trial of the former President of Serbia.
In this short extract from a full lecture, Sir Geoffrey discusses two examples of political pressure being imposed on lawyers in the running of international criminal tribunals.
We know that Milošević had conversations with Mladić about attacking Srebrenica, and we know (almost certainly) that the United States knew of these conversations through intercepts that they gained. However, these intercepts were never submitted in the trial of Milošević, because “an entity insisted that the prosecutor withdraw the application,” as Sir Geoffrey so tactfully puts it.
Whose interests were served by this? Probably Serbia’s, but far more important were the interests of any other entity that would have preferred less to be known about its knowledge of events at the time...
The very best collection of documents obtained regarding Milošević’s knowledge and involvement in any alleged genocides in the former Yugoslavia was a stenographically recorded series of meetings lasting nine years at which Milošević was present. Serbia made a deal with the Prosecutor to have the most damning parts blacked out from public view; lawyers and judges could see the totality, but Citizens could not. Extraordinarily the ICJ trying the case brought by Bosnia against Serbia for genocide worked on the basis of the blacked-out documents and never saw what lay beneath. The possibility of a fair trial coming from this seems very much in question…
This is an extract from the lecture 'International Criminal Tribunals: Experiments? Works in progress? Institutions that are here for good, or maybe not?' which was given as a part of Sir Geoffrey Nice's series of free public lectures given as Gresham Professor of Law. The full hour-long lecture be accessed on the Gresham College website:
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