Skip to comments.World Court asked to decide if a country can be guilty of genocide
Posted on 02/26/2006 6:26:40 PM PST by HAL9000
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Generals and politicians have been convicted of genocide, but the UN's highest court will consider Monday whether a country - in this case Serbia - can be guilty of humanity's worst crime.
The stakes potentially include billions of dollars and history's judgment.
Thirteen years after Bosnia filed the case with the International Court of Justice, its lawyers will lay out their lawsuit against Serbia and Montenegro - the successor state for the defunct Yugoslavia - charging it with a premeditated attempt to destroy Bosnia's Muslim population, in whole or part.
"Not since the end of the Second World War and the revelations of the horrors of Nazi Germany's 'Final Solution' has Europe witnessed the utter destruction of a people, for no other reason than they belong to a particular national ethnical, racial, and religious group as such," said the lawsuit's opening paragraph, drafted for the Bosnian government by American lawyer Francis Boyle.
It is one of the most complex and far-reaching rulings ever sought from the tribunal, also known as the world court. Arguments are scheduled to take six weeks, and it likely will be a year before the 16 judges deliver their verdict.
The case hinges on whether the court is persuaded that the Serbian state, and not just a group of individuals, had the specific intent to wipe out the Muslims of eastern Bosnia as a distinct community.
If the judges rule in Bosnia's favour, they would decide later whether to award financial reparations, which could total billions of dollars. The court's rulings are binding, and a refusal to abide by them could be referred to the UN Security Council for action.
Croatia, another republic that splintered from the crumbling Yugoslav federation, has a similar genocide case against Serbia pending at the world court.
The Bosnia case is the first to be heard under the world court's new president, British Justice Rosalyn Higgins, 68, who also is the only woman among the UN-elected judges.
Hundreds of Bosnian survivors will start a vigil Monday outside the neo-Gothic Peace Palace where the court sits.
Bosnia submitted the lawsuit in March 1993, less than a year after Yugoslav-backed Serb paramilitary forces began attacking Muslim villages adjacent to Serbia. The Bosnians claim the Serbs intended to drive out the residents and create a Greater Serbia.
In a horrific roster of atrocities, the lawsuit cites case after case of the slaughter of civilians, mass rape, the systematic destruction of mosques and cultural heritage sites, and the creation of "extermination camps."
Within weeks, the court issued an interim order against "Yugoslavia and its agents and surrogates" to halt their campaign of "ethnic cleansing," including the murder, bombardment and starvation of the Muslims.
But worse was to come.
Two years after the documents were filed in The Hague, Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Gen. Ratko Mladic massacred more than 8,000 Muslims during one blood-soaked week in the UN-declared safe haven of Srebrenica.
A separate UN court in The Hague - the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia - already has ruled that genocide occurred at Srebrenica.
The Yugoslav tribunal convicted two Bosnian army officers of complicity or aiding genocide, and several other suspects struck plea bargains to evade genocide charges. It currently is trying former president Slobodan Milosevic.
Mladic remains at large, branded one of the world's most-wanted fugitives. He is believed to be hiding in Serbia with protection from hardliners in the Serb military and police - loyalists of Milosevic.
In recent days, reports of Mladic's imminent capture circulated, but they have proven false. In Belgrade, the Blic daily newspaper said negotiations on his surrender were under way and that Mladic allegedly "refuses to make a deal" with authorities.
Serbia-Montenegro's faces a European Union deadline to surrender Mladic by Feb. 28 or have its membership talks with the bloc frozen. The EU's council of ministers scheduled a Monday meeting in Brussels, Belgium, to decide whether to punish Belgrade if Mladic is not captured.
"Serbia knows that negotiations may be suspended or may never be concluded if Belgrade fails to co-operate fully," chief UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said this week.
Genocide was not specifically outlawed until the 1948 Genocide Convention, prompted by the Holocaust.
The first genocide conviction came 50 years later, when a special UN court on Rwanda sentenced a former mayor, Jean-Paul Akayesu, to life imprisonment for complicity in the deaths of thousands of Tutsis. The Rwanda court has handed down a score of convictions since then.
Unlike the Rwanda or Yugoslav tribunals, the International Court of Justice does not try individuals. It deals only with claims among UN member states, but rarely in claims of this scope. In its 60 years, it has most often has adjudicated border or maritime disputes.
Screw the world court, if they ever got there way there would be terrorists in GITMO being able to sue the US for billions.
Has the UN decided on what exactly 'genocide' is yet?
What they haven't done is actually declare that any country on Earth is actively participating in it. That would require actual action on the UNs part, and that ain't gonna happen.
Thats fine with me. The less effective an illegitimate organization like the UN is the better.
Ohhhh no, we're ALL going to prison. All 285 million of us.
So now the European cowards are going to try to sacrifice Christian Serbia as a whole to the Mohammedan Moloch?!
They should be thanking the Serbs and rearming them to finish the job, but I guess it will take beheadings in Paris, Berlin, London, and the Hague before they finally get it.
Odd...when I read this I just expected the country to be Sudan...but then they'd have to hold muslims accountable in that case.
"World Court asked to decide if a country can be guilty of genocide"
They have no standing or jurisdiction to decide....in any case, if they do decide in the affirmative, let us start with mohammad/islam and work our way chronologically.
Well, shouldn't the Serbs turn around and accuse all the muslims of attempted genocide during WW2, when The grand mufti Husainni led the all Muslim Nazi SS division to slaughter all the Serbs?
That aside, shouldn't there be actual PROOF of Genocide? I recall plenty of news clips showing muslim refugee are fleeing the country, and refugee tents being set up. That's not genocide.
Then Clinton bombed civilian Serbs in civilian convoys, towns and villages. THAT is attempted genocide...
Then there's the Turks and the Armainian genocide, not a peep about that either- strange.
At the time: illegal and undesirable. Today: just illegal.
The court's rulings are binding, and a refusal to abide by them could be referred to the UN Security Council for action.
If 'ol Slobo manages to avoid a guilty verdict, maybe we can get Homeland Security to hire him? The fella certainly has demonstrated his motivation.
Due process? What a fk'ed up world. The UN has GOT to go.
Thanks for reminding me why I voted for Bush.
Though while it was happening they would not use the word "genocide". A careful and deliberate omission. May God have mercy on them for looking the other way during that bloodbath, as children were hacked to death and local officials pleaded for assistance.
So the hypocrisy is complete and the demonization of the Serbian people continues.
So the Danes and Israelis should be up next.
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