Serb elite face exposure over aid to ...

Serb elite face exposure over aid to war crimes suspects Karadzic and Mladic

There are 3 comments on the The Guardian story from Jun 21, 2012, titled Serb elite face exposure over aid to war crimes suspects Karadzic and Mladic. In it, The Guardian reports that:

Serbia's new president, Tomislav Nikolic, centre, at his inauguration ceremony in Belgrade on 11 June 2012.

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Hamilton, Canada

#1 Jun 21, 2012
War crimes prosecutors in Belgrade say they are about to expose the role played by the Serbian elite in harbouring war criminals such as Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, but their efforts to press charges are likely to meet stiff resistance in a country veering back to the right.

The prosecutors say they will bring charges against "well-known" Serbs for harbouring war crimes suspects sought by The Hague tribunal following an extensive investigation into the army, the police, the secret service and the Orthodox church.

But in a nation still wavering between a sense of guilt and victimhood 13 years after the last of the Balkan wars, sceptics doubt they will pursue the top reaches of institutions at the heart of the Serbian establishment.

Doubts have multiplied after the presidential election last month of Tomislav Nikolic, who was once a top official in the Serbian Radical party of Vojislav Seselj who is now on trial in The Hague for atrocities. The prosecutors concede they are uncertain about how or whether the change in political tide will affect their work.

"We have already identified and reconstructed the means by which they supported the fugitives. We have traced their movements. We have identified 11 flats in Belgrade where the fugitives were hidden, so soon we will come out with details on how the network operated.

"Very soon we will prosecute all those who gave them refuge," the chief war crimes prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, said at his Belgrade office. "That will happen soon because we have all the information we need."

Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb wartime leader now on trial for genocide at The Hague war crimes tribunal, evaded capture until 2008, when he was found posing as a new-age healer in Belgrade.

He is believed to have had help forging a new identity from Serbian intelligence officers, and his arrest came only two weeks after a change of leadership at the top of the BIA, the secret service, brought in a more reformist generation of spies.

Vukcevic said that Karadzic was recognised in the spring of 2008 as he peddled alternative therapies among the socialist-era apartment blocks of New Belgrade. His identity was definitively confirmed by surreptitiously collected DNA, though Vukcevic would not say how it was obtained.

Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader whose trial for the Bosnian genocide began last month in The Hague, lived openly for years in Serbian army barracks with the connivance of sympathetic senior officers.

The last fugitive to be apprehended, Goran Hadzic, who was caught last year, is believed to have had help from the Serbian Orthodox church, and spent some time in Russia.

There is evidence that Karadzic, too, was hiding for some time in an Orthodox monastery during his 12 years on the run, and war crimes investigators have looked into the possible uses of church finances for hiding fugitives.

Vukcevic would not comment on whether the church would feature in his forthcoming report, or for that matter whether priests would find themselves in court.

The support networks are so deeply implanted into Serbia's most powerful institutions that some question whether Vukcevic will go after their ringleaders.

"He can't do it. He doesn't want to do it," said Srdja Popovic, a leading Belgrade human rights lawyer. "The whole question of war crimes involves the whole society. Everybody deep down feels guilty.

"Slobodan Milosevic [the Yugoslav president who masterminded the ethnic cleansing] won three elections here. Now there is a new kind of nationalism, a defensiveness in which the man in the street likes to see Serbs as victims. You can't wake up someone who is just pretending to be asleep."

Toronto, Canada

#2 Jun 22, 2012
3:11 pm, Friday, June 22, 2012:
RE: Serb elite face exposure over aid to war crimes suspects Karadzic and Mladic
..... The emphasis should not be on punishments, but rather on deterrents.
..... Those who think of doing something that is against any law should refrain from actually doing it because of precedents showing what happens to those who did something similar.
..... And note that there should be some difference in treatment depending on whether something was done during peacetime, or during a war.
Oliver Cromwell

Accrington, UK

#3 Jun 22, 2012
I would give these guys a medal,they fought to protect their people and country,end of.

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