Leading article: A good day for international justice

Related Topics

This is good news for, and from, the Balkans, even if many Croats don't see it that way and are taking to the streets. To them, the man who spearheaded the 1995 drive to crush the Serb rebellion in the Krajina region was a hero - end of story. They are not interested in discussing whether Operation Storm needed to involve killing hundreds of Serb civilians and expelling thousands from their homes.

There will always be Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Kosovars with that tunnel vision. But in time, most Croats will come to see that the arrest has lifted a Sword of Damocles over their country, for although Brusselsopened accession talks in October with Croatia after Ms Del Ponte declared Croatia was co-operating with the tribunal, Zagreb got only an orange light. While the country's last major war crimes suspect remained at large, the accession process could have ground to a halt at any stage - and probably would have done. With Gotovina in custody, that scenario disappears.

But Gotovina's arrest has wider implications for the region, too, mainly as it will ratchet up pressure on Serbia to deliver its own last big fugitives - Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic - whose roll call of atrocities makes Gotovina's alleged crimes pale in comparison.

Like Zagreb, Belgrade has claimed it has no idea where its suspects are hiding. In reality, the security services in both countries, out of control and operating to an independent agenda, have actively shielded suspects. In Croatia, the government finally grasped this nettle, and the imposition of effective control led to the tip-off that ended with Wednesday's arrest. The Serbs now need to tackle their own rogue security services if they are to get anywhere with locating their wanted men.

If that were to happen, and Messrs Mladic and Karadzic were to go to The Hague, it would mark an impressive conclusion to the tribunal's work. When it started work in 1993, the court was widely ridiculed. Since then, it has indicted 161 people, including the president of Serbia and the prime minister of Kosovo, and been far more successful in forcing all the components of the former Yugoslavia to hand over their leading suspects than anyone once imagined. Last week, only seven suspects remained at large. Now that there are only six, Ms Del Ponte is entitled to feel a degree of satisfaction. No, it is not mission accomplished. But it is getting there.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Test Lead (C#, Java, HTML, SQL) Kingston Finance

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Access/Teradata Developer, Banking, Bristol £400pd

£375 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Access / Teradata Developer - Banking - Bristol -...

Day In a Page

Read Next

August catch-up: Waiting on the telephone, tribute to Norm and my Desert Island Discs

John Rentoul
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home