Serbia to be first nation charged with genocide - Europe - World - The Independent

Serbia to be first nation charged with genocide

Belgrade will be accused at the International Court of Justice of sponsoring ethnic cleansing in the 1990s which led to the worst massacres on European soil since the Second World War. Previously, only individuals have been charged with genocide, the most serious war crime.

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers in Brussels will threaten to hold up talks on the creation of a free trade zone with Serbia because of Belgrade's failure to arrest the former Bosnian Serb military commander, Ratko Mladic.

This rebuke may not satisfy the UN's chief war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, who has called on the EU to put pressure on Belgrade and privately pressed for a formal suspension of the negotiations.

The two events underline the extent to which the region's bloody past overshadows Belgrade's effort to draw closer to the EU.

Today's hearing at the World Court comes 13 years after Bosnia and Herzegovina first charged the Serb authorities, accusing them of the worst case of ethnic cleansing since the Nazis' Final Solution. Though the Serb military was not involved in the war, Belgrade stands accused of backing the Bosnian Serb forces.

Were the case to be proved, the Belgrade could be forced to pay billions of euros in compensation, as well as suffering the disgrace of being labeled a state sponsor of genocide.

Bosnia argues that only by acknowledging Belgrade's role in massacres there can reconciliation be achieved.

Genocide was outlawed under the 1948 Genocide Convention, though the first conviction came 50 years later when a UN court on Rwanda sentenced a former mayor, Jean-Paul Akayesu, to life imprisonment.

Since then, hearings at the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague have decided that genocide took place at Srebrenica. The tribunal has convicted the Bosnian Serb military commanders Radislav Krstic and Vidoje Blagojevic of the offence.

But showing that genocide - a difficult crime to prove - was committed by a state will be more difficult. A paper produced by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting argues that genocide "requires a particular mindset - namely the special intent to destroy a population - which, on the face of it at least, appears difficult to attribute to a state".

It points out that, because Serbia's alleged sponsorship of genocide was through proxies, it will be even harder to prove.

The World Court may decide it does not have legal jurisdiction. A case taken by Serbia against Nato countries was thrown out in 2004 because Yugoslavia was not a member of the UN at the time. Belgrade is likely to argue that, if it cannot initiate a case at the World Court, if cannot be called on to defend one.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Sport
David Moyes and Rio Ferdinand
FootballRio Ferdinand on why the former manager failed at United
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
News
i100
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories