|From: S. K. <email@example.com>
Subject: Srebrenica Historical Project: Urgent appeal on behalf of ICTY prisoner of conscience, Vojislav Seselj
Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 4:21 AM
SREBRENICA HISTORICAL PROJECT
Den Haag, The Netherlands
+31 64 878 09078 (Holland)
+381 64 403 3612 (Serbia)
Web site: www.srebrenica-project.com
[As you are probably aware, the medical condition of ICTY political prisoner Vojislav Seselj is now critical and nearing the point of judicial murder. Coincidentally, on January 24 in Paris the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, headed by distinguished Russian historian Natalia Narochnitskaya, conducted a round table conference on the Hague Tribunal in which the president of “Srebrenica Historical Project” participated. The focus of the conference was on three cases: Karadzic, Mladic, and Seselj. Stephen Karganovic’s remarks concerned the Seselj case. Here they are on the IDC web page in English: http://www.idc-europe.org/en/The-Seselj-Trial and in French: http://www.idc-europe.org/fr/-Le-proces-Seselj:-peut-on-encore-esperer-que-la-justice-soit-rendue-
Maximum publicity for Seselj’s predicament is perhaps the only chance we have got to ensure that he gets adequate medical treatment and an opportunity to stay alive long enough to again demolish the prosecution in the closing arguments scheduled for March. If you have that possibility, please reprint and distribute these remarks as widely as possible in order to raise public awareness and to exert pressure on the Hague Tribunal to desist from withholding proper medical attention from Vojislav Seselj. Once that is successfully accomplished, the next step is for his case to be given proper legal attention, including an objective assessment of whether there are any grounds for continuing the failed trial. If not, the ICTY prisoner of conscience, Vojislav Seselj, must be released immediately. The effort to prevent the judicial murder of Vojislav Seselj and to ensure that internationally recognised legal procedures are applied in his case is a matter of principle for all who believe in human rights and the rule of law. It is not a comment on or endorsement of his political views.]
Remarks at the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, Paris, 24 January 2012.
THE ŠEŠELJ TRIAL: IS THERE HOPE FOR JUSTICE?
Or, perhaps, after a nine year extra-judicial agony we may now dispense with expectations of justice and rephrase the question more practically in the following way: is there hope that at least some of the procedural norms of civilized jurisprudence might finally be put into effect in the course of these proceedings?
As I expect to illustrate, that alone would constitute huge progress in this case and would lead to a just result – dismissal of the charges – even without a formal verdict of acquittal after due deliberation on the evidence. That is so for at least two reasons. First, the five year pre-trial delay and concomitant denial of provisional release, coupled with the inexpeditious pace of the trial since it finally started, constitute a grave violation of the right to a speedy trial and thus a valid reason for quashing further proceedings. Be it noted that the right to a “fair and expeditious trial” is guaranteed in Rule 65ter (B) of the Tribunal’s own Rules of Evidence and Procedure, which the nine-year and counting incarceration of Vojislav Šešelj by any reasonable standard appears to have violated. Secondly, the complete collapse of prosecution’s case by the time it drew to a close in March of 2011 and the consequent failure to demonstrate a single charge in the indictment. According to the Tribunal’s own rules, Rule 98bis to be exact, at that stage the chamber should have assessed the evidence in the light most favorable to the accused and abrogated further proceedings if it appeared that the prosecution failed to present evidence that might reasonably lead to a conviction.
Despite prosecution’s manifest failure to present such evidence, and the clearly expressed view of chamber president Antoneti that the concept of joint criminal enterprise, upon which much of the indictment hinges, was misapplied in the Šešelj case, the majority of the chamber voted for the trial to proceed. The political beneficiaries of this prolongation are the present rulers of Serbia. As a result of it, they will not have to face the unsavory prospect of a triumphant Šešelj returning any time soon to lead his resurgent Radical Party in the forthcoming Serbian elections. To make matters even more absurd, instead of moving forward since the 98bis hearing last Spring, the case-in-chief has been meandering around collateral issues, specifically contempt of court charges against the defendant for allegedly publicizing the identities of prosecution’s protected witnesses. It does not matter that all those witnesses have signed affidavits that they do not object to the lifting of protective measures. The trial is thus effectively prevented from advancing into the defence phase while these contrived issues are being considered, although the conclusion of the tedious proceedings as a whole is long overdue.
A word is in order about Judge Jean-Claude Antoneti. After several judges in succession were replaced, he was appointed to head the chamber on the eve of the trial’s commencement. Judged by purely formal standards, his performance has been commendable. But note should be taken of the fact that, though he has, unlike his predecessors, been a generally fair umpire in the courtroom, Antoneti alone has no decisive influence on the outcome, flanked as he is by judges Harhoff and Latanzzi who make no attempt to conceal their animosity toward the defendant. There is no particular reason to question Antoneti’s personal honour and professional rectitude, but his practical role in the Šešelj proceedings is limited and may be likened to that of Dubček: he acts as the Tribunal’s “human face”. Whatever the ultimate reason for Antoneti’s assignment, it must be recognized that his generally reasonable conduct has had the paradoxical effect of improving the quality of Šešelj’s defence. No longer obliged to assume the posture of an enfant terrible in order to dramatise the unfairness and absurdity of the proceedings against him, Vojislav Šešelj, who may not be a man of great social refinement but who does happen to be a person of enormous erudition and legal competence, could at last focus on the effective conduct of his defence and demonstrate publicly his complete mastery of the lawyer’s craft.
The list of procedural violations in the Šešelj case is long and varied, but we may reduce it to the following principal issues.
Undoubtedly, a fundamental issue in this category is the apparent fact that the indictment itself was not motivated by legal but by crassly political reasons. As we learned by reading former chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte’s memoirs, the prosecution was virtually invited by the then prime minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjić, to contrive a case against Šešelj. On that occasion he used the infamous expression: “Please take Šešelj away from here, and do not ever bring him back.” Though scandalous, that attitude is somewhat understandable coming from the politician Djindjić, who sought to get rid of his foremost political rival. But that a supposedly reputable international judicial institution should act upon such a crudely political invitation, as The Hague Tribunal appears to have done, is an outrage of the first order.
Such an infelicitous inception of the Šešelj case could not but lead to a lengthy train of subsequent abuses. In spite of the fact that Šešelj turned himself in voluntarily within days of being informed of the indictment against him and that he satisfied all of the Tribunal’s own criteria for pre-trial release, he was denied that privilege. By contrast, Kosovo Albanian politician Ramush Haradinaj, who was accused not of verbal offences but of mayhem and torture, was granted not merely provisional release but also the right to engage in politics while free, pending the commencement of his trial.
While for almost five years Vojislav Šešelj was incarcerated in pre-trial limbo, waiting for the prosecution to scrape together anything that remotely resembled inculpatory evidence that it could use in court against him, he had to simultaneously fight two momentous procedural battles.
The first was for the Tribunal to recognize Šešelj’s right to represent himself. One would think that should have been a simple matter because Article 21 of ICTY’s own Statute guarantees that option to each defendant, unconditionally and in plain language. For many years, however, that right was denied to Šešelj, a former law professor, on the spurious grounds that it would be disruptive of the proceedings! In the end, Šešelj had to go on a hunger strike before the appellate chamber reversed the position and finally recognized his elementary right to self-representation.
The second battle, in which he achieved only a partial victory that always remained precarious, was fought under the banner of “equality of arms.” Briefly, the concept mandates that there should be a rough equivalence of resources between the parties as they confront each other in court. The prosecution has dozens of assistants and investigators and considerable funds at its disposal. By comparison, even when everything is going smoothly by ICTY standards, the resources assigned to the defence are miniscule. In his characteristic “go for broke” fashion, Šešelj bombarded the chamber with a demand that was perfectly reasonable but got nowhere: for disclosure of the funds and personnel that were made available to the prosecution to mount its case against him and, under the “equality of arms” doctrine, that he be accorded comparable resources. The farthest he ever got after filing countless motions and engaging in interminable courtroom histrionics was the chamber’s agreement finally that he should be given some funds with which to finance his defence as opposed to none at all, which was the court’s original position. Like every bizarre ruling in The Hague, this one also was motivated by exquisite sophistical reasoning. When you choose to represent yourself, so their rationale went, you also assume the entire responsibility for financing your own defence.
Tainted from the outset, the case against Vojislav Šešelj began to really unravel once the trial started. It turned out that “expert” witnesses brought by the prosecution were a parade of half-wits and ignoramuses or, in Šešelj’s own memorable courtroom phrase, “If they know less than I do about the subject matter of their expertise, they have no business being here.” The alleged percipient witnesses to Šešelj’s crimes were an unmitigated disaster for the prosecution, whose performance was marked by wholesale perjury. The vast majority admitted in court, under Šešelj’s merciless cross-examination, that they were blackmailed, pressured, or suborned to give false evidence against him under the direction of the prosecutor. One even revealed in open court that prosecution investigators had promised him access to “girls” if he agreed to give incriminating evidence against the defendant. Many prosecution witnesses, apparently relieved that they could finally do so in the relative safety of open court, withdrew large portions or all of their previously given statements and one, to the apparent amazement of the judges, requested permission to walk over to the defendant and to embrace him.
The prosecution of Vojislav Šešelj, more than any other scandalous proceeding at ICTY, symbolises most clearly its institutional corruption and it illustrates the true nature of the Hague Tribunal which was best encapsulated by a distinguished authority in the title of one of his books: travesty.
Oh, yes, and haven’t we forgotten to mention the official charges against Vojislav Šešelj? Not at all, they just happen to be completely ludicrous and of negligible import in relation to the gross subversion of basic legal principles that the conduct of his trial in all its phases represents. The defendant stands accused of “inciting” to violence and ethnic persecution in his political statements, an offence that is not even listed as a crime in the Tribunal’s Statute, any more than is the elusive doctrine of Joint Criminal Enterprise, and that in any event would be regarded as legally protected free speech from any but a politically vindictive point of view.
Just a few days ago, Foreign Minister Lavrov in his annual press conference singled out the persecution of Vojislav Šešelj for particular criticism and cited it as one of the significant reasons for closing down the Hague Tribunal. The record of illegality and systematic professional misconduct that has characterised the Šešelj case makes Mr. Lavrov’s recommendation urgent and entirely appropriate. One should only like to add that after more than a decade and a half of serious damage to international law it would not be enough to merely shut it down. All its decisions and verdicts must also be reviewed, the pernicious precedents it set dismissed, and its willing servants disciplined professionally.
Posted by Julia Gorin
I’ve often said that in bombing the Serbs, we were bombing the same clueless, multi-culti, in -denial types that we are. The difference is that over there, the shit had hit the fan and the Serbs found themselves under physical attack and being forced to react. A reality that God has been kind enough so far, to drag out over decades for us here. From a series of letters by “S.J.,” starting in October:
December letter, in response to my blog “Jewish Cemetery Desecrated in Kosovo Capital“:
And from this week, in response to my “Disfiguring the Disfigurement of Jasenovac” blog:
Also related to the Jasenovac post, reader Steve responded:
Indeed, I am reminded that in the course of doing research for my 2010Jerusalem Post article “Mass Grave of History,” I came across such an official German figure for Croatia. So we know that at least a million Serbs were killed there.
February 06th 2012 04:49:54 PM
From December — Not a Single News Outlet Reporting: Two Leaders of Violent Albanian Drug Gang Found Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court
Posted by Julia Gorin
A follow-up to this ongoing case from 2010, in which 17 Albanian gangsters were arrested in New York, Canada and Albania including an Albanian government aide. No wire story on this outcome. No New York story either.
Just the FBI press release:
U.S. Attorney’s Office December 07, 2011, Southern District of New York
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that brothers BRUNO KRASNIQI and SAIMIR KRASNIQI, leaders of a violent Albanian organized crime group, were convicted yesterday of numerous crimes, including racketeering, murder, conspiracy to murder, kidnapping, narcotics trafficking, arson, robbery, extortion, obstruction of justice, interstate transportation of stolen narcotics, and possession and use of firearms. The KRASNIQIs were found guilty after a five-week jury trial presided over by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Holwell.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Bruno and Saimir Krasniqi led one of the most brutal and violent organized crime groups in recent memory. In one six-month period, they committed two murders, two kidnappings, two drug robberies, and an arson. Today, nearly six years after the brutal murders they orchestrated, the jury’s swift verdict has brought the Krasniqis’ reign of terror to an end and the perpetrators of these vicious crimes to justice.”
According to the trial evidence and other documents filed in the case:
BRUNO KRASNIQI and SAIMIR KRASNIQI led a racketeering enterprise (the “Krasniqi Organization”) that engaged in murder, kidnapping, narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery, arson, obstruction of justice, and interstate transportation of stolen goods. The Krasniqi Organization operated in New York, Michigan, and Connecticut, among other locations.
Among other offenses, BRUNO KRASNIQI and SAIMIR KRASNIQI were convicted of two separate homicides. On July 17, 2005, Erion Shehu, a member of a rival Albanian drug crew, was murdered outside a Queens café in a drive-by shooting carried out by the Krasniqi Organization. On the night of the murder, SAIMIR KRASNIQI parked in front of Shehu’s car, trapping him inside. BRUNO KRASNIQI and another member of the organization then shot Shehu approximately 11 times with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and a .22 caliber handgun equipped with a silencer. Shehu died of multiple gunshot wounds shortly thereafter.
The murder of Erion Shehu was the result of a turf battle with a rival Albanian drug gang. The Krasniqi Organization had previously robbed a member of the rival gang at gunpoint of approximately 20 pounds of marijuana. Approximately two weeks prior to the murder of Shehu, members of the Krasniqi Organization, including BRUNO KRASNIQI and SAIMIR KRASNIQI, kidnapped another member of the rival drug gang, Neritan Kocareli, at gunpoint, pistol-whipped him, and threatened to kill him if he did not disclose the locations of other members of his narcotics crew.
On January 13, 2006, the KRASNIQIs executed Erenick Grezda, a member of their organization, because they believed he had previously set BRUNO KRASNIQI up to be kidnapped by rival drug dealers from whom BRUNO KRASNIQI had stolen $250,000 worth of marijuana. Grezda was shot twice in the head while he was sitting in an SUV that belonged to another member of the organization. Following the murder, the KRASNIQIs and other organization members drove the SUV to New Jersey, where they set it on fire in an attempt to destroy evidence inside.
In addition to these crimes, the KRASNIQIs were convicted of participating in two other kidnappings. In 2003, members of the Krasniqi organization kidnapped a victim in Michigan at gunpoint and threatened to kill him because they believed he had disrespected one of their members. In July 2005, members of the Krasniqi Organization kidnapped and shot at a victim in Staten Island as part of a dispute with yet another Albanian drug gang.
The KRASNIQIs were also convicted of conspiring to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, conspiring to commit extortion, two counts of firearms possession and use, including possession of a firearm with a silencer, and obstruction of justice.
BRUNO KRASNIQI and SAIMIR KRASNIQI each face two mandatory minimum sentences of life in prison, as well as 60-year mandatory minimum sentences for the narcotics and firearms convictions.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the FBI’s Balkan Organized Crime Task Force, comprised of Special Agents of the FBI and Detectives of the New York City Police Department, for their work on the investigation. He also thanked the Office of International Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division, the U.S. State Department, and the Albanian authorities, for their assistance in the investigation and extradition of Almir Rrapo, who had been employed as the Senior Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Albania at the time of his arrest in Albania on charges relating to his association with the Krasniqi Organization and his participation in the murder of Erion Shehu, the kidnapping of Neritan Kocareli, and narcotics trafficking. On April 11, 2011, following his extradition to the United States, Rrapo pled guilty to racketeering, murder, kidnapping, narcotics, and firearms charges pursuant to a cooperation agreement with the government.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Avi Weitzman, Natalie LaMarque, and Ian McGinley are in charge of the prosecution.
Call to Action: Retire NATO, Create Jobs & Fund Peace
Chicago – May 2012
Sponsored by: Network for a NATO-Free World: Global Peace and Justice*
In a land that’s known as freedom
We can change the world
Crosby, Stills & Nash
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is holding a summit meeting in Chicago, May 2012. We, peace and justice activists, will gather at a counter summit to voice a new vision of global security and peace.
Join us in Chicago May 18 & 19 for a counter-summit conference to conceive and help build a more peaceful, economically secure and environmentally sustainable world.
As the majority of the U.S. people know, it’s long past time to end the U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan, bring home all U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world, to end the attacks on Libya and to begin to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction and redirect monies from wars and weapons back to our communities.
Despite its claims, NATO was never a defensive alliance, and since the end of the Cold War has been transformed into global alliance structured to wage “out of area” wars in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as to “contain” China. NATO’s creed is aggressive, expansionist, militarist and undemocratic.
From Yugoslavia to Afghanistan and Libya the US has used NATO to enhance and extend its military, economic and political aims that ensure U.S. and European dominance of the resources, markets and labor of the Global South. It has spread the cost of these adventures to its NATO partners.
While ignoring human needs here at home, the U.S. has spent more than a trillion dollars on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and tens of billions of dollars more each year to maintain hundreds of military bases and nuclear weapons across Europe. Instead of wasting money on NATO, our tax dollars should be used to provide real security by creating green jobs and investing in infrastructure modernization for the 21st century, clean water, education, housing and health care for all.
The crisis of every day life in countries around the globe demands international cooperation based on respect for international law, and national sovereignty, not wars and an escalating global arms race – an arms race of one, driven by the US.
The NATO summit provides an opportunity to join in solidarity with our international counterparts to mount an education campaign to help people across the United States and in other NATO nations understand the true nature of NATO and mobilize to abolish it.
By joining together, we can visibly and nonviolently demonstrate how NATO undermines people’s real security in every dimension of life. As we discuss and demand alternative and life-affirming foreign policies, we will help to build the worldwide movement that opposes NATO and its wars, and create a world of peace, justice and economic prosperity.
Diplomacy, international law, national sovereignty, international collaborations, and nonviolent conflict resolution are the foundations of real, global security.
Help us mobilize activists to come to Chicago to participate in an international conference.
A better, more peaceful, secure and prosperous world is possible.
Network for a NATO-Free World: Global Peace and Justice (List in formation): American Friends Service Committee-Peace and Economic Security Program, Code Pink, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, Maryknoll Office of Concerns, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Peace Action, United for Peace and Justice, US Labor Against the War, US Peace Council, War Resisters League. Chicago: American Friends Service Committee-Chicago, Code Pink, Greater Chicago Area Peace Action, New New Deal, US Labor Against the War,