War In The Balkans: War Crimes - Milosevic no longer an `untouchable'

THE INDICTMENT of Slobodan Milosevic as a war criminal is a triumph for the tough stance of the court's Canadian chief prosecutor, Louise Arbour. She has pushed hard for the tribunal to take a more aggressive, high-profile stance against perpetrators of atrocities in Croatia, Bosnia and now Kosovo, even if it means getting in the way of diplomatic initiatives.

Since the tribunal was set up in 1993 in the middle of the ethnic war in Bosnia, it has been attacked for going after small fry and avoiding leaders.

Mr Milosevic put himself beyond the court's reach in 1995 when he starred in securing Serb assent to the US-backed peace deal for Bosnia hammered out at Dayton, Ohio. As he shook hands and quaffed whisky with Western negotiators, Mr Milosevic the "Balkan butcher" was forgotten, and Mr Milosevic the Balkan statesman was reborn.

Since his forces unleashed the latest wave of terror on the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo, however, the outside pressures on the Hague court to leave him alone have receded.

But whether the indictment results in Mr Milosevic ever appearing the dock in the Netherland is still doubtful.

The precedents are not good. The Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, and his military chief, Ratko Mladic, were both indicted for war crimes during the 1992-95 siege of Sarajevo and other crimes in the Bosnian war, such as the mass execution of at least 6,000 men in the eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1995.

But although Mr Karadzic had to step down as Bosnian Serb President, he has not been arrested. Over 30,000 Western peace-keepers based in Bosnia have passed up many opportunities to seize him, even though his familiar helmet of grey hair makes him easy to spot. The troops feared an arrest might end in a bloody shoot-out with his guards and complicate their mission. The worst that Mr Karadzic has suffered is a life of enforced obscurity and the need to travel with a posse of armed lackeys.

Ms Arbour has expressed her own frustration with the refusal of the Security Council to take action against Serbia to force it to hand over earlier indicted war crime suspects.

In May she complained that 32 named suspects were still at liberty in Serbia or Serb-ruled Bosnia and bemoaned the fact that known killers such as the Serb war lord Zeljko Raznjatovic, "Arkan", had simply laughed off their indictments.

"If the Tribunal had received the assistance it requires to discharge its mandate, it is possible that the scenes we witnessed in Croatia and Bosnia ... would not now be repeated in Kosovo," she said.

The court's record is improving. From 1993 to 1997 little was done but since then the pace of arrests has quickened. Croatia and Bosnia have handed over their suspects and "snatch squads" have made several arrests in the Serb part of Bosnia.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones