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In The Hague, Preparing for Karadzic

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- These are busy times for Dutch residents who toil in the trenches of international justice and for those who work along side them in this country's prisons. Since the arrest of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Belgrade last week, preparations are moving feverishly in the city of The Hague, home of the United Nations' International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where Karadzic will, at some time in the near future, face the judges and prosecutors who will conduct his trial on charges of genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide. Nearby, in the resort town of Scheveningen, jailers are readying accommodations for yet another VIP prisoner in their beachfront, high-walled facility, even as they make arrangements for the media mobs that will stretch the limits of technology and neck-craning to catch a picture of the indicted war criminal.

Meanwhile in Bosnia, the survivors of the 1990s war -- one that trampled the elusive line between national suicide and genocide -- are anxiously awaiting the start of an internationally sanctioned trial that might bring some justice to the victims of a conflict of which Karadzic was one of the chief architects. Their anxiety is well founded. If Karadzic's victims expect vengeance, the comforts of the Scheveningen prison will serve only to irritate them. If they expect justice, the tribunal will have to do better than it did in its other high profile case from the Yugoslav wars: the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian leader who played the court like a fiddle and used the dock as his personal propaganda platform. ...

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