Bosnian war crimes suspects arrested in the Netherlands


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

War criminals arrested in the Netherlands

Thursday, May 8th, 2014, 12:06 (Update: 08-05-14, 12:43)

Two men suspected of war crimes in the Balkans have been arrested in Spijkenisse and Heumen. The Public Prosecutor reports this.

The two were arrested at the request of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the 1990s, they are said to have committed war crimes against the civilian population.

Torture

The 43-year-old man from Spijkenisse has Bosnian citizenship. He is said to have been involved in murder, torture and psychological and physical violence against civilians.

The man served in the Bosnian-Croat army. According to the extradition request, he was camp commander in June 1992 in the Derventa region. There, civilians with Serbian backgrounds were held captive in a school.

A prisoner, said to have been accused of an attempted escape by the camp commander, was shot dead with an automatic weapon. Prisoners were beaten with rifle butts, their teeth were kicked out of their mouths and cigarettes were extinguished on their bodies.

Heumen

The man from Heumen is 52 years old and has both the Bosnian and Dutch nationality. He is said to have committed war crimes in 1992, as a member of an armed group during the Balkan war.

With other armed men, he is believed to be responsible for the death of an inhabitant of the Bosnian village Beslagici.

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Serbian three-year-old bomb victim commemorated


Milica Rakić

From B92 radio in Serbia:

April 17, 2013 | 17:42

Anniversary of death of 3-year-old victim of NATO bombing

Source: B92

BELGRADE — Today marks 14 years since the death on April 17, 1999, of three-year-old Milica Rakić, killed during a NATO air raid.

The child was fatally injured in the bathroom of her home, when a shrapnel from a cluster bomb hit her in the head.

The apartment building where her family lives is located some six kilometers from the military airport in the Belgrade suburb of Batajnica.

The traces of the damage done by the bomb are still visible on the facade around the bathroom window. The family decided not to repair the wall, as a reminder of the horrific crime.

The toddler’s death became the symbol of the suffering of the Serbian people during the war that NATO waged against the country in the spring of 1999.

This is a music video from Yugoslavia of a song, with English subtitles, about the death of Milica Rakić.

The EU has started accession negotiations with Serbia, using the membership talks as a form of blackmail to curb Russian influence: here.

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NATO pressure frees Croatian war criminals


This video says about itself:

Neo-Nazism In Croatia/ Obsession With Historical Paradox

Apr 4, 2008

Over 60,000 fans celebrating Croatia’s Nazi past with Hitler style hand salutes – “Sieg Heils”.

By Paul Mitchell:

Croatian war criminals released after appeal by Western military chiefs

11 December 2012

In April 2011, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Croatian general Ante Gotovina and Assistant Interior Minister Mladen Markac guilty of war crimes committed during 1995’s Operation Storm military offensive and sentenced them to 24 years’ and 18 years’ imprisonment, respectively.

The two leaders were accused of involvement in a “Joint Criminal Exercise” (JCE), led by late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, aimed at “the permanent removal of the Serb population from the Krajina region by force, fear or threat of force, persecution, forced displacement, transfer and deportation, appropriation and destruction of property or other means”. More than 150 Croatian Serbs died, hundreds disappeared and 200,000 fled in what was described as the biggest act of ethnic cleansing in the Balkan Wars. Half of the refugees have still not returned to their former homes.

In January 2012, 12 US, Canadian and British military experts, three of whom had served as judge advocate generals (senior military lawyers) and one as the top legal adviser to the US Army, launched an appeal to overturn the convictions. They argued that the court was wrong to use a “200-metre standard” by which artillery bomb craters located more than 200 metres from a legitimate military target were deemed evidence of unlawful indiscriminate attacks on civilians. If the standard became enshrined in international law, they declared, future Western military operations would be put in jeopardy and commanders would run the risk of being hauled in front of human rights courts accused of war crimes.

The appeal document concluded with a letter from General Ronald H. Griffith, vice chief of staff, the second highest officer in the US Army, from 1995 to 1997 and current executive vice president of the private military company Engility, formerly known as Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI). Griffith declared, “Should the standard of review adopted by the Trial Chamber gain traction as a controlling interpretation of international law it will ultimately expose commanders who have conducted military operations in compliance with accepted doctrinal principles and in a morally responsible manner to the threat of being brought before some international court and charged, as was General Gotovina, with war crimes.”

Last month, the ICTY Appeals Court overturned the convictions of Gotovina and Markac, declaring that the original court had “erred” by using the “200-metre standard”. The rest of the charges against the two war criminals fell like dominos. By a 3-to-2 majority, the court declared that the mass exodus of Serb civilians “cannot be qualified as deportation” and the existence of a JCE “cannot be sustained” and ordered Gotovina and Markac to be released.

Two of the five judges dissented from the majority opinion. Maltese judge Carmel Agius said that he “strongly disagreed” with almost all of the conclusions reached by the majority and was “distancing himself” from their decision. Italian judge Fausto Pocar insisted that the judgement “contradicts any sense of justice”.

Former ICTY chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte declared, “I am shocked, very surprised and astonished because it is absolutely unbelievable what happened after ruling the sentence of 24 years in prison to general Ante Gotovina.” Current chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz said that “those affected by crime committed in connection with Operation Storm are not satisfied by the outcome and feel their suffering has not been acknowledged”. He hoped the Croatian authorities would use the evidence his office had gathered to prosecute those responsible.

Brammertz’s plea was quickly forgotten. After flying back to Croatia, Gotovina and Markac received a hero’s welcome from a crowd of 100,000 in the capital, Zagreb. President Ivo Josipovic welcomed the verdict, and other government figures and officials declared the men’s release was proof that no ethnic cleansing had occurred in Croatia. Gotovina declared that the “Homeland War is now clean, it belongs to our history, it is a basis on which we build our future.” Media reports suggest he will stand in the next presidential elections.

Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic denounced the Appeal Court’s decision as “scandalous,” declaring that it “will not contribute to stabilisation of the situation in the region but will reopen all wounds.” Russian United Nations ambassador Vitaly Churkin declared, “In its work, the ICTY demonstrates neither fairness nor effectiveness.”

The two have been released in the first instance because the Croatian army acted as Washington’s proxy against Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, with President Bill Clinton’s special envoy Richard Holbrooke describing them as his “junkyard dogs”. In November 1994, MPRI was contracted to train the Croatian army at the time of a UN-monitored ceasefire. Photographs show Gotovina with US military personnel in front of a computer screen showing “Battle Staff Training Program” and “Welcome to Training Center Fort Irwin”. Franjo Tudjman’s son Miro, head of Croatian intelligence at the time, claims the Croatian and US governments enjoyed a “de facto partnership”.

In 2002, Henry Hyde, chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, was already warning that the ICTY could investigate officials who were “formulating and carrying out US government policy” in connection with Operation Storm. The Washington Times repeated Hyde’s warning and attacked the concept of command responsibility as a threat “to US national interests” and “Washington’s ability to project its power around the world.”

Such concerns also lay behind the release, a few days after that, of Gotovina and Markac, of Kosovo Liberation Army commander and former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj and others accused of being members of a JCE involved in the torture and murder of Kosovo Serbs, Roma and Egyptians in a KLA compound in the village of Jabllanicë in 1998. A partial re-trial had been ordered because the original trial was surrounded by allegations that witnesses were subjected to systematic harassment and intimidation. Del Ponte was also forced to complain to the United Nations Security Council and UN secretary-general Kofi Annan about the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and its chief, Soren Jessen-Petersen, who, she said, protected Haradinaj. She asked, “How can the rule of law be implemented if UNMIK chiefs so openly support a person who is accused of some of the gravest crimes in international law?”

Both the Croatian and Kosovan Albanian leaders played a key role in ensuring US hegemony within the Balkan region. The US had been intent on preserving a unitary Yugoslav state as a bulwark against a Soviet thrust into the Mediterranean, but this changed with the collapse of the USSR and the reunification of Germany in 1991. When German imperialism, anxious to flex its political muscle, promoted secession in Slovenia and Croatia and rushed to extend recognition, both the US and the other western European powers reversed their previous opposition.

It was inevitable, given the history and politics of Yugoslavia, that the break-up of the federation would lead to civil war. The secession of provinces would suddenly deprive ethnic minorities of the constitutional protections they had enjoyed under the federation.

Dutch girl murder’s suspect arrested, NOT a refugee


Marianne Vaatstra

In 1999, in Friesland province in the Netherlands, there was the horrible case of Marianne Vaatstra.

This sixteen-year-old girl from Zwaagwesteinde village was raped and murdered. For thirteen years, the police was unable to find out who was the murderer.

Though the police did not know, Rightist media pundits claimed to know. There were refugee camps in Friesland province. Johnny Foreigner must have been Marianne’s rapist and murderer, the xenophobes claimed.

First, there was talk about a refugee from Yugoslavia. Conveniently, at the time when NATO bombed Yugoslavia. Later it was suggested the rapist and murderer was an Iraqi refugee (by, eg, the Katholiek Nieuwsblad, a weekly representing the far Right wing of the Roman Catholic church). Or an asylum seeker from Afghanistan. Again, countries in which the Netherlands, being part of the NATO alliance, participated in wars. The murderer-rapist was non-white. The murderer-rapist was a Muslim, the bigots screamed. The police supposedly had not arrested murderous Johnny Foreigner because of anti-racist “political correctness”.

Police did extensive DNA research around Zwaagwesteinde village. Yesterday, they finally arrested a suspect of the Marianne Vaatstra murder. Was he a Yugoslav? an Iraqi? an Afghan? an African?

No, he was a 45-year old white farm owner living not so far away from the Vaatstra family. 100% DNA match, news sources say.

Will the racists now say they are sorry? Don’t count on it.

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Stop one-sided NATO war propaganda in Belgium


From 18-27 October in Brussels, Belgium, there will be a so-called “Freedom Festival”, organized by the local government and NGOs.

At first sight, it looks promising:

Political and artistic, intercultural and creative, festive and subversive, Festival des Libertés returns each autumn to mobilise all forms of expression in order to offer an overview of the state of rights and freedoms around the world, to point out lurking dangers, to bring people together in a fun, relaxing atmosphere, to encourage resistance and to promote solidarity.

Resistance against what or against whom, one may ask?

This video from Britain is called Jamie Shea, NATO spin doctor.

As Belgian peace movement intal reports (translated from their Dutch):

The Freedom Festival on 22 October will give the floor to NATO spin doctor Jamie Shea. Title of the ‘debate’: «Should we intervene in Syria?». A strange ‘debate’, however, because in the panel there is no critical opponent of Shea. So Jamie Shea will get a platform without any speaker questioning NATO’s intervention policies.

We demand: there should be an opponent of Jamie Shea speaking, who should be able to criticize his views. The audience has a right to that.

For more information about Jamie Shea and how you can support this demand, please visit this link [in Dutch, but can be translated with Google Translate etc.]:

http://www.intal.be/nl/article/het-vrijheidsfestival+de-navo-verdient-een-echt-debat

You may of course publish this open letter on Facebook and other social media.

Part of the info on the intal site, translated from Dutch:

Who is Jamie Shea?

The world knows Jamie Shea as the public relations face of the Kosovo war of 1999, when NATO for 78 days and nights bombed Yugoslavia. That was an illegal war waged in violation of international law and without a UN mandate.

During its aggression NATO was guilty of numerous violations of the laws of war, including the deliberate bombing of civilian targets. Today no one can deny that this “humanitarian war” was based on lies, deception and manipulation – with anything but altruistic goals at stake.

Jamie Shea is still at NATO today, as Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges.

Yugoslavia war, 1999-2009


This video is called Carla Del Ponte: Kosovo Serbs Murdered For Their Organs.

NATO bombs still haunt Serbs, 9 years on.

By David N. Gibbs, in the United States Jewish magazine Tikkun:

Was Kosovo the Good War?

This article draws from David N. Gibbs‘s new book, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Vanderbilt University Press, June 2009), especially from chapter 7. Readers interested in obtaining full source citations can find most of them in the book or request them from the author at dgibbs@arizona.edu.

As the 1999 NATO war against Serbia reaches its tenth anniversary, it is being recalled with a measure of nostalgia. The Kosovo war is remembered as the “good war” — a genuinely moral military action, which offers a reassuring contrast with the Iraq fiasco. The Kosovo war was undertaken (so the argument goes) only as a last resort, to restrain an unpleasant dictator (Slobodan Milosevic) who would only respond to force. And the war produced positive results, in the sense that Kosovo was freed from Serb oppression and Milosevic was soon overthrown. Now, a decade later, the Kosovo war is recalled as an exemplary case of humanitarian intervention, and is widely viewed as a model for possible interventions in Darfur [see also here] and elsewhere. Indeed some of the key figures in the Obama administration, notably Samantha Power, have advocated that “humanitarian intervention” on the model of Kosovo should be a basic theme of U.S. policy.

Given the importance of Kosovo as a model for future military actions, it is important to understand more fully what actually happened in this critical case. New information has become available in recent years from the Milosevic war crimes trial and other basic sources — information that casts the war in a wholly different (and not so positive) light. In what follows, I will review some of these revelations, and how they have discredited widely accepted myths about the “benign” character of the Kosovo intervention.

A review of Gibbs’ book: here.

An interview with David N. Gibbs, author of First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia: here.

Prosecute NATO Yugoslavia war crime, Amnesty says


This video is called Danilo Mandic interviews Noam Chomsky on NATO bombing [of Yugoslavia]. – 36:15 – 4 okt. 2006.

From British daily The Morning Star:

NATO attack on Serbian TV station ‘a war crime’

Thursday 23 April 2009

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL demanded on Thursday that NATO chiefs be held accountable for the deliberate bombing of a TV station in the then-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) a decade ago.

On April 23 1999, 16 civilians were killed and 16 others injured during an air raid on the headquarters and studios of Radio Television Serbia in central Belgrade.

Ten years on, no-one has been brought to justice for what Amnesty International described as a “serious violation of international humanitarian law committed by NATO.”

NATO bombers killed a total of approximately 500 civilians [other estimates are thousands] and injured 900 during Operation Allied Force between March and June 1999.

NATO member states had claimed at the time that the 78-day aerial campaign against the FRY was a “humanitarian intervention” designed to halt Belgrade’s war against separatist Albanian insurgents in Serbia.

As reports of ongoing violations by NATO forces persist in Afghanistan, Amnesty called on the Western military alliance and its member states to “ensure independent investigations, full accountability and redress for victims and their families.”

Amnesty spokeswoman Sian Jones said: “The bombing of the headquarters of Serbian state radio and television was a deliberate attack on a civilian object and as such constitutes a war crime.”

NATO officials confirmed to Amnesty in early 2000 that they had targeted RTS because of its propaganda function in order to undermine the morale of the population and the armed forces.

Ms Jones observed that “justifying an attack on the grounds of combating propaganda stretches the meaning of ‘effective contribution to military action’ and ‘definite military advantage’ – essential requirements of the legal definition of a military objective – beyond acceptable bounds of interpretation.

“Even if NATO genuinely believed RTS was a legitimate target, the attack was disproportionate and hence a war crime,” she pointed out.

Dutch Princess Mabel pro peace?


This is a video from a Dutch satirical TV program, about Princess Mabel doctoring a film about her life, especially her relationship to gangster Klaas Bruimsma, like she vandalized her Wikipedia entry.

From GPD news agency in the Netherlands:

Princess Mabel [of the Netherlands] will serve as the first Chief Executive of The Elders, Desmond Tutu, Chair of the Elders, announced on Wednesday. She will oversee the day-to-day operations for the Elders, a group of eminent individuals convened by Nelson Mandela to use their wisdom, independent leadership and experience to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems.

According to Dutch daily De Volkskrant, the originator of the idea of the Global Elders is not Nelson Mandela, but British millionaire Richard Branson.

In itself, the idea of ex-politicians like in the Global Elders, commenting on the policies of their successors, is not a totally bad idea. Arguably, ex politicians often have better ideas than when they still were in office: Jimmy Carter (one of the Elders), Colin Powell

However, having the day-to-day operations for the Elders in the hands of Princess Mabel is a bad idea.

The GPD article continues on Mabel:

She founded and was the executive director from 1993 through 1997 of the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans, a West-European non-governmental organization dedicated to establishing peace, democracy and stability in the Balkans.

Mabel Wisse Smit, as she was known then, worked ‘for peace and democracy’ in the Balkans jointly with well-known militarist, anti democrat, and supporter of apartheid in South Africa, Margaret Thatcher. The “Action” which that “Council” lobbied for, was Western military aggression in Yugoslavia. Mabel’s boyfriend then, before she became a princess by marriage and after Dutch gangster Klaas Bruinsma, was Bosnian politician Sacirbey, jailed for shady financial and arms deals.

Nelson Mandela is well known as an opponent of the Yugoslavia and Iraq wars. It will not work well for him to have Princess Mabel as a filter on his views.

Where millionaires, whether Richard Branson, Mabel’s employer George Soros, or the sponsors of the American Enterprise Institute are involved, critical distance is necessary.

George Soros’ Ex, Brazilian Actress Adriana Ferreyr, Sues for $50 M; Claims Billionaire Hit Her, Didn’t Give Manhattan Apartment: here.

Karadzic and Bosnia: here.