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International Justice/ICTY: Jul ‘08

Project produces in-depth and original coverage of Karadzic arrest.
The IWPR tribunal project was quick to respond to the arrest of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in July, providing a comprehensive selection of reports, features and comment pieces.

Karadzic was detained on July 21 after spending 12 years on the run. He is charged by Hague prosecutors with 11 counts, including genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, persecution, inhumane acts and other crimes, committed against Bosniak, Croat and other non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-95 conflict.

His capture brought the number of fugitives wanted by the tribunal down to two – which includes Karadzic’s Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic, who is also believed to be hiding in Serbia.

When news of the arrest broke on July 22, IWPR published two reports. These were followed on July 24 with a piece of analysis – Serbia: Pressure Needed to Secure Mladic Arrest – which considered the need to keep pressure on Belgrade if Mladic is also to be brought to justice.

The article, written by Hague reporter Simon Jennings and Belgrade-based trainee Aleksandar Roknic, was republished by Bosnian weekly Start.

Explaining why he chose IWPR’s report over the myriad of other articles written about Karadzic’s arrest, Start’s editor-in-chief Eldin Karic, said, “We republished your article because the angle you provided was interesting and you kept it real, while everyone else seems to be engaged in the sensationalist side of the whole Karadzic story. You also provided views of a wide range of people, which made your report balanced and unbiased.”

The project continued its coverage of Karadzic’s capture the following week, with the publication of three incisive comment pieces.

In More Than a Local Genocide, University of Sarajevo lecturer Edina Becirevic considered the scope of the genocide charges in Karadzic’s indictment, which unlike that of Mladic, mentions no link between the suspect’s alleged crimes and Belgrade.

The piece was picked up by Croatian daily Slobodna Dalmacija and was also referenced in Bosnian daily Avaz.

In Karadzic Arrest Shatters Myth of Impunity, Dr Zoran Pajic, a visiting professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London, and a member of IWPR’s board of trustees, accused the regime in Serbia of making a fool of the European Union, by obstructing the capture of Karadzic.

While in The Banality of Evil, senior Balkans adviser at the International Crisis Group Dr James Lyon said that the arrest showed that Belgrade knows where the whereabouts of the remaining war crimes suspects “and can arrest them whenever it wishes”.

The project team was also approached by a number of high-profile media organisations, looking for informed opinion on what Karadzic’s arrest would mean for the Balkans.

Jennings was interviewed by Associated Press TV, and part of the interview was quoted in their printed piece, Lawyer Says Radovan Karadzic Plans to Defend Himself at UN War Crimes Court. The same interview was broadcast by the Croatian state TV HRT, and was quoted in an International Herald Tribune article.

Jennings also gave live TV interviews for France 24 and Al Jazeera, as part of their hourly news broadcast.

Sadovic was consulted by German TV ARD and interviewed by Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, also on implications of Karadzic’s arrest.

Another event which dominated the Balkans media in July was the acquittal of Naser Oric, former senior commander of Bosnian Muslim forces in the municipalities in eastern Bosnia, including Srebrenica, on all charges in his indictment.

In June 2006, Oric was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted for crimes committed by his subordinates. However, last month, the ruling was overturned by the appeals chamber and Oric was found not guilty.

This verdict caused a wave of reactions throughout the former Yugoslavia. While Serbs in Bosnia and Serbia were angered by the ruling, calling it “a mockery of justice”, Bosniaks said the appeals judgement was fair and strengthened their faith in the tribunal.

The tribunal project covered both the ruling and the reactions in the region in the article published on July 4 – Oric Acquitted in Appeals Hearing.

We also covered the start of the Hague trial of Bosnian Serb cousins Milan and Sredoje Lukic, who are charged with crimes against Bosnian Muslims in Visegrad in 1992.

In a feature, Lukic Trial Ruling Provokes Outcry, Jennings considered reactions to the judges’ dismissal of a request by prosecutors to add sexual crimes to the indictment of the Lukic cousins.

On July 8, a day before the trial began at the Hague tribunal, the trial chamber rejected the prosecution’s submission to add rape and sexual slavery to the charge sheets of the cousins, saying that the request came too late for the accused to build a defence case.

Rights workers have accused the two of responsibility for multiple rapes of Bosniak women, who they say were kept prisoner at Visegrad’s Vilina Vlas spa hotel, the headquarters of Milan Lukic’s paramilitary group.

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