Fun with fugitives

One of my favorite headlines from a Serbian newspaper I vaguely recall from the beginning of 1995, when international negotiators were promoting a peace plan for Croatia. They came to present the plan to Slobodan Milošević, and the headline the following day was "Milošević did not say either yes or no." So what did he say? Everyone had to guess.

Here is some competition in today’s Blic. Dejan Vukelić has an article titled “Prosper offers for Karadžić and Mladić to be tried in Serbia.” The characters so far: Pierre-Richard Prosper is the US ambassador at large for war crimes, and Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić are fugitives charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Bosnia-Hercegovina. So already we have the question: how can Mr Prosper make an offer in the name of an institution he does not represent, and how can Serbia try non-citizens for crimes committed on the territory of another state?

Next character: somebody named Borko Đorđević, a person I have never heard of, but who is identified in the article as a “respected surgeon from the United States.” Apparently Dr Đorđević has a plan to enlist the aid of former US president Jimmy Carter and negotiate the surrender of the two fugitives. There is no word as to whether Mr Carter knows anything of this plan.

Are you with me so far? Good, because now it gets weird. The article goes on to say, "…if Mladić and Karadžić were to surrender to our [Serbia’s] authorities, Prosper said that he does not exclude the possibility that they be tried in Belgrade…” Did Mr Prosper say this? Apparently not: the journalist was told this by "the minister for the diaspora in the Serbian government Vojislav Vukčević.” And how did a person with the title of “minister for diaspora” (whatever that is, it cannot be an office that has authority over this field) learn this? "He says that he heard Prosper’s position listening to a conversation between him and Đorđević’s lawyer.” So apparently Mr Prosper did not make an offer: he told a lawyer representing a third person in a (presumably) private conversation that he "does not exclude the possibility” of something happening over which he has no authority – he did not say either yes or no. This was told by a fourth person, Mr Vukčević, to a fifth person, the journalist who wrote the article for Blic. Just to make things clearer, the article concludes with statements from several people confirming that none of the people named so far have any authority to decide in this matter.

What happened here? Probably nothing, but everybody has to guess.

Update: Radivoje Petrović has more in Политика. Apparently this effort has been going on for a while, and includes a campaign to build an all-star defence team for Karadžić and Mladić, which would be led by the well known attorney Alan Dershowitz (the paper renders it as Дрсовиц). They also have a photo of this Dr Đorđević, who seems to be a plastic surgeon in Palm Springs.

Update 2: Now it is Novosti's turn. In her article, Dubravka Savić adds that conditions include, in addition to the high/powered legal team, a guarantee of pretrial detention in private lodging in Belgrade and the opening of an ICTY branch office in Belgrade. Have these negotiations already begun?

Update 3: With the morning come statements from people who actually have responsibility in the matter. B92 reports that Mr Prosper told the Beta news agency that "the whole story is completely untrue" and denies ever having contact with Dr Đorđević. The chair of the National Council for Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, Rasim Ljajić, says "there is not even a theoretical chance" that the two could be tried in Belgrade and does not regard the story as serious.


coturnix said...

I guess Adam Nagourney has some serious competition in Vukelic, or is that his student by any chance? The similarity in methodology is uncanny.

OT, have you heard from my brother lately? Does he read your blog (he reads mine regularly, or so he says).

Eric Gordy said...

Hmm, I used to think that the US press was less transparently propagandistic, now I think that line has probably been blurred.
Na svoju veliku žalost, dugo nisam u kontaktu sa Markom. Evo baš sad cu da mu pošaljem imajl.

Quod said...

The farce with Karadžić and Mladić lasts too long. And the amount of words used upon that topic is enormous. It is obvious the big players are playing this game!

Eric Gordy said...

Well, something is up between some players. But maybe what this (non?) story shows is that there is also a surplus of small players who think they are playing the game?