2008-07-29

A quick roundup

I have taken a few days off from following the strange doings of "Dr Dabić," alter ego of the genocidaire Radovan Karadžić. The reason for this is probably fairly legitimate: our furniture and massive quantities of boxes have finally arrived in scenic London. After three days of hauling things around and unpacking, our home is beginning to look a bit like a place where people live. The best part of it all is that half of the very large bedroom will be a work space for your humble correspondent and his closest relatives. Does luxury know no end?

In any case, there is not so much that is new to report. Karadžić may or may not have acquired a Croatian passport in the name of his witch-doctor colleague Petar Glumac. Glumac thinks so and so apparently do Serbian authorities, but police in Austria seem not so certain. It seems fairly clear that Karadžić vacationed in Croatia using this document, which would suggest that the folks in Serbia are closer to the truth here. Somebody -- either the real Glumac or Karadžić -- was apparently also practicing "medicine" in Italy.

Karadžić's lawyer Svetozar Vujačić seems to have adopted the only strategy available to delay the extradition of his client to the ICTY. He sent an appeal by the slowest postal means he could find. This is not going to mean much, except that the indictee may travel a couple of days later.

Meanwhile Karadžić's nephew Dragan Karadžić has come out with a declaration that he (and only he) assisted the fugitive in evading the law. This is probably an attempt to shield the people who participated in harbouring Karadžić and are still harbouring Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. There is no reason to expect much to come of this one way or the other. Dragan Karadžić might or might not get a short prison term, police are not likely to prefer his public statements to the results of their investigation, and public opinion will be balanced between the people who are relieved that the criminal has been arrested and people who will understand a little illegal expression of filial piety, however misguided. Luka Karadžić should get a little bit of blame for exposing his son to danger, but in his family life as in his driving habits he has never shown any sign of concern for people less powerful and well connected than himself.

Tonight the right wing parties are organising a protest against the arrest. This is a bit of a last ditch for them: they lost both the elections and the extended horse-trading session that followed, and now want to try their hand at a little bit of street populism. Expect them to attract a small number of people who will engage in a bit of violence.

Speaking of marginal parties of the far right, it looks like Koštunica dr Vojislav has broken his silence. Lucky us.

Apologies for the lack of links in the above post. I just wanted to catch up a bit. The people who have been following the news will already have read the original articles, and for the rest a search engine ought to do the trick.

Update: Just a note on the lawyer Vujačić's slow mail trick. If the appeal does not arrive, the court is not obligated to wait for it indefinitely. The judges could make a finding that there is no appeal.

2 comments:

Richard Brodie said...

I would like to advise against perpetuating the use of the term "genocidaire" to refer to an alleged perpetrator of genocide such as Karadzic, and for a number of reasons.

First, my syntactic objections. It is truly an abortion of an attempt to mangle the English language. There are only a handful of words ending in "aire": millionaire, legionnaire, questionnaire, and debonaire, in all of which cases the suffix is added to a two syllable base, yielding an easily pronounceable 3 syllable word accented on the first and last syllables. In English the only four syllable words with the first and last syllables accented are compounds such as overreact, videotape, etc. Most four syllable words with accent on the first syllable are followed by three unnacented syllables (literary, optimism, television, etc.) with the remainder accented on the third syllable (navigation, subcommitte, etc.)

And the pronunciation of the "i" is ambiguous. It is long in the root "genocide", but in the only other example of an -aire word preceded by a "d", namely the trademark Figidaire, the "i" is short. So we are left to wonder which it should be.

Second, my semantic objection. All of our existing -aire words have connotations ranging from neutral to positive. And thus "genocidaire", with an emphatically negative connotation, has a semantically dissonant ring to it.

And finally, my ethical objection. While it would be linguistically clumsy, it would not be inappropriate to label a CONVICTED perpetrator a "genocidaire". But it is completely wrong in a society that embraces the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" to apply such a term to someone who has merely been charged with the offense. To use this kind of language is to be a participant in the practice known as "railroading", one which international tribunals are of course notorious for.

Eric Gordy said...

The linguistic point is interesting. I am not sure on the point about connotation, the other examples would seem to suggest there is a wide range of possible connotations. I think (but could be wrong here) that the term "genocidaire" came into use to refer to perpetrators in Rwanda and passed into English from there, probably for a lack of equivalents.

On the "innocent until proven guilty" point, I would have to disagree that this is an ethical argument. "Innocent until proven guilty" is not a moral but a legal formulation. It means that a court cannot impose a punishment before it has made a finding of guilt. In the world outside the courtroom, people are not guilty from the moment that a court makes a declaration that they are, but from the moment they commit the crime.