Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ownership of Karadzic's Trial is Vital for Serbian Reconciliation

Yesterday's capture of Radovan Karadzic is historic. His capture has potential to bring the victims (Bosniak, Croat, and Serb) of the Bosnian War toward reconciliation or toward more bitter feelings of victimization. As it stands right now Karadzic is due to be extradited to The Hague and tried by the Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Though I have no over-arching opinion of the international war crimes tribunals, I do believe that in this case Karadzic should be tried in Serbia. The Serbian public has no faith in the tribunals, Karadzic has no faith in the tribunals. As quoted in the UK based newspaper The Times in 1997, Karadzic believes that The Hague and its tribunals are "a political body that has been created to blame the Serbs." This lack of faith will only perpetuate feelings of Serbian victimization. Keeping the trial in Serbia gives legitimacy to the trial in the eyes of the Serbs. A trial at home allows Serbs to prove to the world and themselves that they can administer justice as the facts and the evidence require.

Furthermore it would bring certain facts of the war to light in Serbia. Recall the reaction when the video of the Serbian soldiers executing Muslim men in Srebrenica was aired in 2005 after being used as evidence against Slobodan Milosevic. Before the release of this video Serbia proper (Belgrade) denied Serbian involvement in the massacre and 50% of Serbs denied the massacre even took place. Once released Belgrade could not deny that their forces were supporting Bosnian Serbs. Evidence needs to continue to be brought to the attention of those affected by the war. Having Karadzic's trial in Belgrade would bring certain aspects of the war to the Serbian public's attention.