Truth in Media Activism: Letters to Editors

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Sept. 26, 1998

To: The Wall Street Journal

Put the U.N. Justice on Trial

Re. The Hague Tribunal's Strange Legal Principles



Ned Crabb, Letters Editor


New York, NY

SYDNEY - Prisoners from rival gangs banged on cell doors and set off alarms trying call the guards' attention to a sick inmate who had been moaning in agony. To no avail. When the prison cell doors finally sprung open, some five hours later, all prisoners rushed to help their dying cell mate. Too late.

A scene from a roach-infested Mexican prison? Nope. That's what happened on Aug. 1 at the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal jail in the Hague, Netherlands, when Dr. Milan Kovacevic, a former director of the Prijedor (Bosnian Serb Republic) hospital, suffered a slow and painful death. A Tribunal spokesman later said Dr. Kovacevic died of a heart attack. He did not. The Tribunal lied.

Dr. Slobodan Ivanovic, a doctor who visited the Tribunal shortly after Kovacevic's death, said that Kovacevic had died from a ruptured aorta in the abdomen. Earlier this month, the Tribunal "corrected' itself while denying any responsibility for the prisoner's death. Meanwhile, legal proceedings against Dr. Kovacevic ended with his death, a Tribunal's spokesman told Reuters.

Dr. Kovacevic had been kidnapped from his office at the Prijedor hospital on July 10, 1997 by four British soldiers who were pretending that they were delivering a Red Cross parcel to him. The same day, another Bosnian Serb, Simo Drljaca, was murdered in cold blood by a group of NATO commandos, according to two eyewitness testimonies broadcast on Bosnian Serb TV (is that why NATO pulled the plug on Serb TV transmitters in September 1997?).

Neither Kovacevic nor Drljaca had been on the published list of people indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal. But the Tribunal later said they were secretly indicted in March 1997.

On June 29, the case against the former (Serb) mayor of Vukovar, Slavko Dokmanovic, was also terminated after this prisoner hanged himself in his cell at the Hague on June 29. One year earlier almost to the day, Dokmanovic was also kidnapped by masked gunmen on false pretenses.

In February 1996, General Djordje Djukic, also an unindicted Bosnian Serb, was kidnapped by the NATO forces in Sarajevo and flown to the Hague. Like Kovacevic, Djukic became ill at the Hague prison, and was eventually returned to die in his homeland. He was imprisoned, yet never charged.

The bottom line: Four unindicted Serbs are kidnapped and imprisoned at the Hague; none are convicted; yet all four end up dead at the United Nations court whose mandate does not allow it to impose a death penalty. But, as you can see, when there is a will, there is a way. When it come to "U.N. justice" anyway.

By contrast, two Belgian paratroopers serving within the U.N. forces in Somalia in 1993, were photographed roasting a Somali boy over a flaming brazier. They were sentenced to only a month in jail, and fined 200 (about $333) after admitting the atrocity in a military court in Brussels on June 23, 1997, according to the London Telegraph.

Belgium was the third country involved in the U.N. "Restore Hope" mission whose soldiers were charged with serious misdemeanors against the Somali civilians, including rape, torture and murder. In 1995, a group of Canadian paratroopers were investigated for torturing a Somali to death and killing three others. The charges of disobedience, racism, and the rituals for new members of the unit led to the Canadian Airborne Regiment being disbanded in 1996.

And in early June 1997, gruesome photographs of Italian soldiers torturing a Somali youth, and abusing and raping a young Somali girl, were published in a Milan magazine. As a result, the U.N. "Restore Hope" mission will be best remembered by its "Destroy Hope" messages.

Yet despite their confessions and/or indisputable evidence, none of these western U.N. soldiers were ever charged under the War Crimes Tribunal's jurisdiction. Why not? Especially considering that the Hague Tribunal has been also given the duty of prosecuting atrocities committed by the Rwandans in that African country's civil war.

So what's sauce for a Serb goose is obviously not sauce for the U.N. gander. Which is why it is time to put the U.N. justice on trial, starting with its War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague. The charges? Homicidal negligence, duplicity, abuse of judicial powers, moral and political corruption.


Best regards,

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Bob Djurdjevic

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Also check out..."You Were Wrong About Gen. Perisic", "New York Times' Kosovo News Manipulation""Plus, Another Kosovo News Cover-up""Embarrassed About Such 'Serbs',"  "Put the UN Justice on Trial""Another Wall Street Bailout, Another Main Street Sellout", "Does WSJ Dance to Wall St. Bankers' Tunes?""Clinton Fiddles While Milosevic Burns""Let the Bombing Begin?  Not!" , "What's Good for the Goose..."  and "Journal's Rotten Apples" (Wall Street Journal); and "Stock buybacks: Wall St.'s Duping of Main St.", Business Week).