Serbia: Why not Protect Milosevic?

Just before the daybreak of June 29, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was formally handed over by the government of his country to the UN Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (IVTY) in The Hague, where he will be tried.

The whole world was stunned by the news: a powerful leader, who waged hard struggle for more than three months to prevent the country's division, was arrested by his country; a powerful leader, who fought for his country as the head of the country was deserted by his country. Vojislav Kostonica, the current president of Yugoslavia was not informed of the Serbian government’s decision on Milosevic’s handover to the UN crime tribunal.

The handover created civil unrest in the country -- the premier and six ministers resigned; thousands rallied in front of the federal Parliament to protest Milosevic's extradition to the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

Milosevic is the first head of state to face international criminal trial in The Hague. Meanwhile, others in similar situations -- accused of political crimes -- remain free from international trial.

In 1992, the racial reconciliation policy under former South African President Nelson Mandela that brought about a peaceful transition in South Africa also saved from international trial white racists who violated human rights under apartheid.

In 1998-2000, Khmer Rouge leaders of Cambodia surrendered to Phnom Penh. Western countries and the United Nations sought to bring the perpetrators to justice before an international tribunal, but the prime minister Hun Sen, wishing to foster national reconciliation, insisted on relying on the Cambodian court system.

In 1999, Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean leader who was accused of kidnapping and murder in his overthrow of the democratically elected government, was detained in England in his hospital room while Spain requested his extradition. But Chile protested the detention, recalling its ambassador from Madrid. In the end, Pinochet went home.

In 2001, Albert Fujimori, the former president of Peru of Japanese ancestry, was charged with illegal arms trafficking, abandoning office and dereliction of duty. Peru requested his extradition from Japan where he was in self-exile in Tokyo. But Japan government denied the request.

Milosevic is not so lucky. For money and pressure from Western countries, he was deserted by the country he led and fought for. He is experiencing the tragedy of "international justice."

Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, stated that handing over of Milosevic to The Hague was a "victory" of "international justice".”

Is it a victory of "justice" or a victory of "politics and money"? Milosevic was accused of responsibility for the Kosovo war during 1996-1999. However, is Milosevic the only one who should be held responsible for the Kosovo war? What about NATO air bombardment which resulted in thousands of casualties? What about the ongoing massacre by the Kosovar Albanian army? Will those dead rest in peace after Milosevic's trial?

Before the Kosovo war, Milosevic was not resented by the West. His protest against the West's decision on Kosovo offended the West. Under the pressure from Western countries, Milosevic was arrested; under the pressure from the West, he was extradited. Therefore, it is in the name of "politics" that the UN Criminal Tribunal tries Milosevic, not "justice.”

The Serbian government handed Milosevic over to The Hague hurriedly before daybreak on June 29 to curry favor with the West and US$1 billion in aid. Undoubtedly, Milosevic's trial is about money.

The powerful leader did do wrong to democracy in his country during his rule. Nevertheless, he fought to defend his country. Why did the country desert him? Why didn’t the government protect him? Will US$1 billion and Milosevic's trial remedy Yugoslavia’s loss in the Kosovo War?

(Professor Zhu Feng’s article was published in Chinese on the website of on July 1 and translated by the CIIC.)

In This Series

Milosevic to Go It Alone Before War Crimes Tribunal

Milosevic Challenges UN Tribunal's Legality

The World in Brief

Milosevic's Extradition Unconstitutional - Kostunica

Milosevic Arrested, Say Yugoslav Authorities

Milosevic Rejects Kostunica Appeal

Russia Opposes Outside Pressure on Yugoslavia Over Milosevic

Kostunica: Milosevic's Arrest Is Legal

Yugoslav President Vows to Arrest Milosevic

Milosevic Under House Arrest - Serb Minister



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