01: War criminals put their victim on trial 01: War criminals put their victim on trial
In 1999, at the height of Nato’s criminal war against Yugoslavia, a war which was waged in complete violation of international law and the customs of war, and during which NATO committed horrendous crimes – crimes which can aptly be described as crimes against humanity – NATO, turning facts on their head, got its kangaroo court in the Hague to indict Milosevic, among others, for war crimes. Ever since then, it has been Nato’s aim to lay its hands on Milosevic and other Yugoslav patriots who led the defence of their country against Nato’s genocidal war.
Attempt at legitimising Nato’s war crimes
After the war, as a step in this direction, NATO, through a mix of bribery, electoral fraud and straightforward thuggery and intimidation, secured the ‘election’ of a Yugoslav president and government prepared to do its bidding. As soon as this government of traitors was in place, NATO turned up the heat, making it clear that Yugoslavia would get no loans, no trade, no normal commercial relations, unless it handed over to the so-called International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Milosevic and his close associates. Last year, the US Congress passed the FY01 Foreign Operations Appropriation Act, which made US “assistance” to Serbia contingent on certification that the Yugoslav government was co-operating with the ICTY. In other words, the Yugoslav government, if it wished to restore Yugoslavia’s infrastructure, so wantonly destroyed by Nato’s barbarous war of aggression, had to hand over Milosevic for the war crimes he did not commit to a tribunal organised and orchestrated by those who really did commit crimes against humanity in violation of international law, to wit, NATO. This insistence of Nato’s is part and parcel of its attempt to legitimise its own war and the crimes committed by it during that war, as well as a warning to others of the consequences of defying Nato’s diktat.
The despicable new leaders of Yugoslavia were only too willing to comply. They first tried to indict Milosevic on charges of corruption before a Yugoslav court as a prelude to his transfer to the Hague. Nothing came of it, for there was no evidence of this alleged corruption. In the end, Zoran Djindjic, the Serbian prime minister, unable to get the Yugoslav parliament to pass an extradition law, simply issued a decree, in defiance of the Yugoslav parliament and constitutional court and in complete violation of the Yugoslav constitution, for the transfer of Mr Milosevic. It was under this illegal decree that on Thursday 28 June, just one day before a meeting of international banking mafiosi in Brussels described by our tame media as a ‘donors’ conference’, Mr Milosevic was kidnapped, flown to the Netherlands, and made over to the worst enemies of Yugoslavia – the NATO war criminals and their kangaroo court.
The breathtaking treachery and illegality of Djindjic’s actions has caused a constitutional crisis, which threatens to tear apart the coalition of traitors known by the name of DOS. The Yugoslav prime minister, Zoran Zizic, has resigned. The position of President Kostunica, who had promised not to act unconstitutionally, and who as recently as last October characterised the ICTY as a “
“, has become untenable. Tens of thousands of Yugoslav citizens have taken to the streets to express their disgust and anger at the actions of a government which has sold the Yugoslav patriots to the enemies of the Yugoslav people in return for 30 pieces of silver – LOANS of a mere $1.28 billion by the banking sharks of New York, London, Paris, Berlin – the very countries which inflicted upwards of £100 billion material damage on Yugoslavia, in the process killing several thousand innocent Yugoslavs and destroying the livelihoods of several millions. In all probability, there will have to be new elections, for the present regime, which boasted about its respect for ‘democracy’ and ‘the rule of law’, has been shown to be a clique of fraudsters and puppets of imperialism and thus has lost the remnants of its credibility.
With the handover of Milosevic to the Hague kangaroo court of the neo-Nazi NATO alliance, the last hurdle to the sale of Yugoslavia by the present despicable Yugoslav regime of traitors to international finance capital has been removed. Let one British newspaper, the
, capture the scene:
Serbia’s gold rush began this weekend. With the ink barely dry on a £1.2 billion aid package for Serbia’s reconstruction from the wars of the 1990s, the sharp-suited businessmen who stand to make fortunes out of the bombed-out country have already rolled into town.
In the marble lobby of the glittering Hyatt hotel in Belgrade, men in expensive grey suits clutch leather briefcases and huddle in small groups among the ornate pillars. They are the first wave of carpetbaggers descending on the country, representing the international banks, consultancy firms and organisations hoping to capitalise on the investment to come.
The handover of Milosevic to the ICTY, continues the
… immediately opened the purses of foreign governments attending a donors’
[loan sharks’ would be an exact description]
conference in Brussels. Now the men in suits are coming to tell the Serbs how to spend it,”
adding that “
the facilitator of this bonanza is another man in a sharp suit: the Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, who organised the extradition of Mr Milosevic to the Hague on Thursday. A new kind of Serbian strongman, Mr Djindjic rode roughshod over legal niceties and issued a decree when he could not get an extradition law passed by parliament. In the process he defied the pro-Milosevic constitutional court which had ordered that the handover be delayed.”
Milosevic turning the tables on his prosecutors
Once in the Hague, Mr Milosevic was produced in the court on Tuesday 3 July to face charges which accuse him of deportation, murder, persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds – of crimes against humanity in gross
“violation of the laws and customs of war and contrary to the Geneva Convention of 1949”.
The charges levelled by NATO countries against Milosevic remind one of Turgenev’s devil, whose motto was: accuse others of the sins you possess yourselves most. It is NATO, and NATO alone, which is guilty of these crimes on the territory of former Yugoslavia, as we have frequently documented. The real war criminals are the political and military leaders of NATO and their surrogates in the Balkans. It is the Clintons, the Albrights, the Blairs, the Chiracs, the Schroeders, et al, who should face a war crimes tribunal and not their victims.
During the 13 minutes of his appearance, Milosevic remained composed, dignified and defiant, treating with disdain and contempt this mockery of a judicial tribunal, correctly characterising it as a tool of the powers that had wreaked such devastation on his country in their war of aggression in 1999. He denounced the tribunal as illegal, declined any legal representation and refused to enter a plea. Although he answered some of the questions of Judge Jeffreys (sorry, Judge May) in English, his most stinging denunciations were delivered in his native Serbian. To 300 million television viewers watching the proceedings live across the world, he proudly and defiantly declared: “
This trial’s aim is to produce false justification for the war crimes of Nato committed in Yugoslavia.”
Judge May: “
If you wish to have time to consider whether you want to have counsel or not, we would be prepared to give it to you…”
Milosevic (in English): “[This is]
false tribunal… it is illegal, being not appointed by UN General Assembly, so I have no need to appoint counsel to illegal organ.”
Judge May: “
Now, do you want to have the indictment read out or not”
That’s your problem”.
Realising that Mr Milosevic was succeeding in exposing the fraudulent nature of this tribunal before hundreds of millions of people around the world, the justice-loving judge May switched off Mr Milosevic’s microphone several times, saying ‘now is not the time to make speeches’. He ordered another procedural hearing, which will take place on 27 August.
Imperialist bourgeoisie worried
If the first encounter between Judge May and Mr Milosevic is an indication of what is still to come, NATO is already on a slippery slope. Far from emerging from these proceedings with the legitimisation of NATO’s war crimes and the criminalisation of Milosevic and other Yugoslav patriots, it will end up by exposing the criminality of its own war against Yugoslavia, the fraudulent nature of the ICTY, and the innocence of Milosevic and others who had the honour to defend their country against Nato’s onslaught. This worries the bourgeoisie of the leading NATO countries to the extreme. So, not without reason, did
in its leading article on 4 July say:
Mr Milosevic has already demonstrated his tactics: he will refuse all co-operation with the tribunal, decline to defend himself and do his best to portray himself as a Serb martyr and a victim of Nato aggression.
The International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague must do everything it can to ensure that such tactics fail. A trial that is seen as ‘victors’ justice’ serves neither the cause of humanity nor that of political catharsis for Serbia
” (‘Victims in court’).
Worried that if Mr Milosevic succeeds in broadening the forensic analysis of his regime’s alleged atrocities in Kosovo to “
the entire political history of the Balkans for the past 10 years”,
bringing into the light of day the real ethnic cleansing of 280,000 Serbs, who were driven out of their homes in Krajina, Croatia, in 1993 with the full support of the NATO regimes, in particular the US administration, it could end up by not just embarrassing NATO, but also discrediting and undermining the new Yugoslav puppet regime. In
The fallout could be serious. President Kostunica’s authority has been undermined by his Prime Minister’s decision to ignore parliamentary opposition to extradition and send Mr Milosevic to The Hague in haste and secrecy. One result could be to widen the split with Montenegro, many of whose MPs are pro-Milosevic Serbs. The crux of the prosecution case is whether it can establish Mr Milosevic’s ‘command responsibility’ for war crimes in Kosovo. To do this, it needs to call others who served his war machine. Indeed, the senior figures should also be arrested and tried – as should those indicted for crimes in Bosnia who still, incredibly, live free under Nato’s noses. Justice should be impartial, but also comprehensive. Mr Milosevic must be neither scapegoat nor martyr. That is the real challenge for Judge May
Bourgeois commentators expose the show trial
Already, even bourgeois-liberal commentators, who hate Milosevic as much as do the NATO leaders, find it hard to justify Milosevic’s trial when crimes committed against the Serbs are ignored. One such naïve soul, seeking consistency – other than the consistency of the pursuit of imperialist aggrandisement and superprofits – is Simon Jenkins. Writing in
of 4 July, he says:
As it is, I doubt if the Albanian gangsters currently cleansing Kosovo of its Serbs and Gypsies regard themselves as remotely at risk from any war crimes tribunal. The reason is that they know Nato is on their side, indeed is watching as it happens. The West never demanded the extradition to The Hague of Franjo Tudjman of Croatia, though his anti-Serb deeds in Krajina, committed with American support, were no less ‘crimes against humanity’ than those with which Mr Milosevic has been charged…”.
He goes on to say that the ICTY is increasingly seen as an
“agent of NATO, a force whose kill-rate in former Yugoslavia could yet exceed that attributed to Mr Milosevic”,
“… the Hague tribunal bears more similarity to a post-victory show trial than to any impartial court of justice”,
for to get Milosevic, “
the Americans had to offer blood money to … Djindjic…”
Agreeing with the statement of Geoffrey Robertson QC to the effect that the US remains “
a truculent opponent of the demand for universal human rights”,
in view of its opposition to the proposed International Criminal Court, before which could be indicted among others, US presidents, generals, pilots and soldiers, Mr Jenkins delivers this devastating blow against the double standards, hypocrisy and duplicity of the spokespersons of imperialism:
Whether or not this is a new world order, it is certainly an order for the rich and powerful. Every Serb I have met, indeed every Slav, believes that the pilots (British or American) who cluster-bombed Nis marketplace with such butchery in 1999 should be prosecuted for a war crime. The Palestinians feel the same of the Israeli commander during the 1982 Beirut massacre, now Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The Argentineans feel likewise of those who ordered the sinking of the ‘Belgrano’. It is one thing to protest that the circumstance of war alters cases, quite another to refuse to answer the charge. There cannot be one international law for the victors and another for the vanquished. Yet challenge Nato over its Kosovo bombing and Tony Blair and Lord Robertson cry in unison with Mr Milosevic: ‘That’s your problem’
“The cardinal fact of international justice is that it still depends which side you are on. America bombed Sudan with total impunity. The Hague court is so partial as to seem merely old-style imperialism”.
Duty of the proletariat and the oppressed peoples
The proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the world have a duty to expose and oppose the trial of Milosevic by the imperialist gangsters of NATO, for this trial is not that of Milosevic; it is the trial of a small nation and a people who dared say no to the all-powerful US imperialist-led war lords. There are those who do not like, or approve of, Milosevic. That is their right. What is at issue in this trial is not Milosevic. At issue in this trial are the rights of small and weak nations to an independent and sovereign existence, free from imperialist bullying and brigandage. Anyone who does not support the right of small nations to self-determination, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity against imperialist threat and aggression, is not even a democrat, let alone a socialist. Nay, such a person is a scoundrel and an apologist for war-mongering imperialism.