Letter: War crimes double standard

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Robert Fisk's interview of Judge Richard Goldstone, described as "head of the Bosnian war crimes tribunal", predictably focuses on Karadzic and Mladic ("A cup of coffee...", 29 September). Why the collective amnesia about war crimes in Croatia and what are the criteria by which certain leaders are charged but not others?

Take the indictment of the Krajina Serb leader, Milan Martic, for launching rockets on Zagreb. This was in retaliation for Croatia's May 1995 assault upon western Slavonia, part of the UN-protected Krajina region. Contrast this indictment with the lack of one for the Serb civilians who perished during the assault and the thousands who were ethnically cleansed.

In August 1995 Croatia, with American blessing, blitzkrieged the Krajina heartland and expelled 175,000 Serbs. The reaction of Carl Bildt, in his brief role as successor to Lord Owen, was to mention Tudjman in the context of the committal of crimes of war. In contrast, President Clinton's reaction was upbeat - it had furthered the prospect of a settlement in neighbouring Bosnia. The following period was marked by the well-documented murders of elderly Krajina Serbs who had stayed behind.

Since the Serb leaders are deemed responsible for crimes committed on their territories surely, within internationally recognised Croatia with its clear chain of command, the buck stops with President Tudjman. The war crimes tribunal's failure to issue indictments in connection with the expunging of the Krajina Serb nation is tantamount to condoning the concept of "benign" ethnic cleansing.

Yugo Kovach

Twickenham, London

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