Dokaz da je Rendőrségska država

Adam has made an interesting find. It looks like the SRS riots were so disappointing, that in order to provide sensational coverage CNN had to beef them up with footage from riots in another place at another time. Since nobody who follows CNN knows any languages or ever goes anywhere, nobody would ever notice, right?


Thanks for the memos

For anybody who wants it, here is the statement that Radovan Karadžić wanted to make to the Tribunal yesterday (the translation precedes the original text, which is signed).

A new Balkans news portal

This is a nice little aggregator. Thanks to Yves Tomić for the tip.

Secret agent man

At his arraignment yesterday, Radovan Karadžić repeated a claim that has been made by many people (among them Florence Hartmann, Biljana Plavšić, Muhamed Šaćirbej ....) that he felt he had been protected by an agreement he had made in 1996 with Richard Holbrooke, who was then the US envoy overseeing the negotiation and implementation of the Dayton agreement in Bosnia-Hercegovina. As the story goes, the offer was made to Karadžić that if he were to withdraw from public life, in return for this the United States would either (in some versions) see to it that he would not be pursued and arrested or (in more dramatic versions) see to it that the charges against him would be withdrawn. Today's Blic offers an overview of stories involving the "Holbrooke agreement."

The US State Department denies that there was an agreement, as does Richard Holbrooke. But of course denials do not tell us anything about factual states, merely what somebody would prefer for us to believe. All the same, there is as yet no convincing evidence (say, a copy of the signed agreement) that would definitively tell us there was an agreement. What we have to do is the same thing we do with the Karađorđevo agreement -- some people claim that Milošević and Tuđman agreed in advance on the territorial division of Bosnia-Hercegovina, nobody has produced the smoking cocktail napkin or whatever it is that thugs in power write their mash notes on, so what is left to make inferences from the facts that are available.

Here is what we know: 1) The US long regarded the Tribunal as an obstacle to its efforts to negotiate with the criminals who would be charged, and refused to assist in the arrest of suspects or provide Tribunal researchers with evidence from sources such as satellite intercepts which the US intelligence agencies collected. 2) There was a longish period during which it was possible to arrest Karadžić and other indictees but this was not done. 3) After 2000, when a new president was appointed by the Supreme Court, US foreign policy became increasingly hostile to international legal institutions, international agreements and international organisations in general.

At the same time, here are some more things that we know: 1) Richard Holbrooke never had the authority to create obligations for the US by means of a personal initiative. 2) If he did ever have it, he did not have the means to enforce it, particularly after the administration he served left office, 3) An obligation undertaken by the US State Department would not create obligations for UN institutions or any other countries.

So my conclusion is that maybe Richard Holbrooke did make some promises to Radovan Karadžić. If he did, it was a mildly clever way of influencing a gullible megalomaniac. It never could have any legal force, neither in preventing Serbia from arresting Karadžić nor in preventing the UN from trying him.


In court

Radovan Karadžić makes his first court appearance. He is expected to confirm his identity, hear the charges against him, state that he intends to represent himself, and request to use his right to wait thirty days before entering a plea.

In the meantime there is some chance that the charges against him may be revised -- in some ways to account for evidence which was not available when the first charges were made, and in some cases it may be shortened because some facts (for example, related to the siege of Sarajevo) have already been established in other cases. Here a delicate balance has to be struck: important crimes should not be left out, but one reason for the endless Milošević trial was probably that prosecutors overcharged.

Photo courtesy of B92. There is another photo about of the accused looking a bit more Hollywoodish, but it is not legal to take photos of prisoners in custody, and I ain't going down that road.

That divine cocktail of MSG

Often admired, sometimes ridiculed, never quite successfully imitated -- Vegeta, together with the humble onion, is one of the pillars of Balkan gastronomy. Zlata Bartl (popularly, "teta Vegeta"), who created it in 1959, has passed away. I do not know what I will prepare to honour her memory, but it will be plenty salty and require a good cold beverage.


The case of the advocate who barked in the night

So, that whole game about waiting for the appeal to arrive? Now Karadžić's lawyer admits there never was an appeal. Initial thoughts on this very minor matter:
  1. On the one hand, there may as well not have been an appeal since it would have been rejected as a matter of course.
  2. On the other hand, these lawyers might think about defending their client instead of whatever it is they are doing.
In the event that Karadžić does decide to conduct his own defence, he will probably not have worse representation than he would get from Svetozar Vujačić and (for heaven's sake) Goran Petronijević. But considering that the case against him relies on his command responsibility for actions of his subordinates and that his strongest potential defence is that he did not really exercise command, any reasonable person would advise him to get some qualified lawyers.

Postscript: Here is the link. And the remark about Mr Petronijević is not because of this case or any of the other celebrated cases in which he has defended figures from the organised crime world, but because of his famous decision when he was a judge in the Djakovica terrorism case in May 2000, when he declared "There might have been shortcomings in the test, but the results must be accepted as valid because they were conducted in wartime conditions. It is impossible to determine your individual guilt, but that is not necessary." ICTY rejected him as a lawyer for Veselin Šljivančanin back in the day.


The meeting organised last night by the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) was a failure in every respect. The turnout was low, the speeches were bad, the goals were not clearly stated, and the organisers failed to control the crowd. This is probably also why speakers were chosen from the D-list of Serbian politics: luminaries like Kosta Čavoški and Bora Đorđević. The government knew that the protest could be ignored, so they spent the evening preparing to fly Radovan Karadžić out of the country to the place where he will be tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Meanwhile the only element of the meeting that made news was the violent confrontation between skinheads and police, who this time around did not have orders to let the hooligans destroy anything they wanted. A suggestion to the winsome lads of 1389, Obraz and other groups allied with SRS: when your friends are not in power, it is a bad idea to attack the police, because there are more of them than there are of you, and they are better armed and better trained.

Today Tomislav Nikolić of SRS came out with an unintentionally revealing statement. He claims that president Boris Tadić was commanding the police and attempting to create disorder, and tried to dissociate his party from the thugs who turned out for the meeting, claiming that they were on the payroll of the police.

Let's leave the contradictions in Nikolić's statement alone -- they are obvious enough that they do not need to be pointed out. What the failure of last night's meeting shows is that without support from the regime in power SRS is simply another extremist party with severely limited support and little capacity to organise anything. They could build a small base of support when they had the ability to hand out commercial real estate on the Zemunski kej. And they could assure the validity of their licence to intimidate people when everyone was sure that the police and security services were standing behind them.

Goodbye, SRS. People are no longer afraid of you, and they no longer take you seriously.

Update: Rich Byrne on the failed meeting as "a total triumph for the new government."

Update2: Similar thoughts from Vladimir Vuletić, Zoran Stojiljković and (if you can believe it) Slobodan Antonić.


Ma kemoj

So the big meeting in protest of the arrest of Karadžić has come and gone, and it was as I predicted: small turnout, a bit of violence, anticlimax. The high point would have to be the typographical error at the B92 news site. Undoubtedly wishing to give the story the headline "Miting završen, kreće šetnja," (which is in fact the title given the full story), the main page instead gives the headline "Miting završen, kre." As if the thing were attended by a bunch of breteni.

Any truth to the rumours that Karadžić is already on his way to the Hague? I have not found any confirmation yet, but it will be my pleasure to let you know.

Update: Ah, timing! The title of the story has already changed -- to "Miting završen, nema šetnje." Apparently the police and the right wing thugs need some space to be alone with one another.

Update2: No trip to the Hague tonight, the rumour was untrue.

Update3: But if I had waited a couple hours longer ....

Notes on the commerciality of evil

Okay, while I have to agree that the "footsteps of Radovan Karadžić" tour is more than a tad obscene, I also have to admit that if I were in Belgrade right now I would probably be taking it (most likely without the help of an agency). Maybe I would skip having my photo taken holding his gusle.

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.


Great moments in marketing

After the Chevy Nova, the Seat Pestilencia and the Toyota e-Coli, we now have the Ford Kuga. (NB)