by Dr Eric Voegelin for the Saker Blog
The Hague Tribunal announced a few days ago that the former President of the Bosnian Serb entity, the Republic of Srpska, Dr Radovan Karadzic is due to be transferred to a British prison to serve the rest of his life sentence. Dr Karadzic was charged and predictably found guilty of a number of serious violations of international law during the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, genocide being at the top of the list, of course.
Karadzic’s objection to the decision was brushed aside by the secretive Tribunal (or “Mechanism” as it has renamed itself) without any cogent reasons being offered. Nor has it even been disclosed to which British prison it was decided to transfer him.
The concerns expressed by Karadzic and those who are alarmed over his safety are well-founded. In 2010, another Serbian prisoner from Bosnia, General Radislav Krstic, serving his sentence in Wakefield prison in the UK, was assaulted by three prisoners of the Muslim faith who tried to slash his throat and nearly succeeded. He was, however, rescued in time by the guards who heard his cries for help.
The fear that a similar fate might befall Karadzic is, therefore, quite reasonable. British prisons are swarming with Muslim inmates, some of whom hold very extremist views, and for them words such as “Serb,” “Bosnia,” and especially “Srebrenica,” are red flags. Another high profile Serbian prisoner sentenced by the Hague Tribunal, Mrs. Biljana Plavsic, a member of the Bosnian Serb Presidency, who was serving her sentence in a women’s prison in Sweden, was similarly assaulted on the same religious grounds.
True, a British court, in a dazzling display of British fair-play, subsequently did award Gen. Krstic the sum of about £ 50,000 for the unpleasant experience, but the gesture, noble as it may appear, does not resolve the fundamental issue. The host country has an obligation to ensure the personal safety of prisoners, whoever they are and whatever they may have been accused of, and they are also entitled to a treatment as humane as possible. That, at least, is the theoretical rule that prevails in civilized countries. Where an individual must stay locked in his cell 24 hours a day in order to be “safe” from other inmates, there is a serious problem and the host country’s safety obligation clearly is not being met.
The gist of the underlying issues was expressed by a keen young scholarly observer of the Balkan political scene: “Can you explain what their main motivation is for this? If they wanted to harm him, surely they would have done it by now. When this news came out the one thing I was dreading was the media response….with headlines such as ‘The Bosnian Butcher’ and ‘Serb Genocide’ all over the internet. I feel like it is only being done for this purpose; as an excuse to be able to bring up the ‘Bosnian genocide’ again. But then it begs the question, why now? Is there something brewing?”
Great questions, but it is difficult at the moment to offer satisfactory answers to most of them. To the question, “if they wanted to put Karadzic’s life in danger why are they doing it now when they had him in their custody at the Hague during many years?” a tentative answer may be offered. In the Milosevic trial, the prosecution case was by the time of death in 2006 in a state of complete disarray and they simply had to urgently get rid of the defendant to avoid a larger embarrassment in the judgement stage. In Dr Karadzic’s case, even assuming they entertained similar thoughts, the situation is a bit different. Repeating the same scenario twice in the Tribunal Detention Unit with another high profile defendant would have aroused too much suspicion. If they wish Karadzic harm, it is far more convenient to put him in a situation where other hands would do the job, and with “plausible” reasons – religious animosity. But it is not even certain that they explicitly wished Karadzic violently dead when they decided to transfer him to Britain. That would make him a martyr in Serbian eyes and could spoil the subversive political game they are playing in the Republic of Srpska, which so far is not going too badly for them.
As Freud correctly observed, sometimes a pipe is just a pipe, and we should not strain to read too many other things into it. The decision to move Karadzic to a country where he would be extremely vulnerable may not be indicative of a conscious homicidal intent to see him dead, as much as it might have been motivated simply by an excess of arrogance. They hate Karadzic intensely, they can send him to any place they choose where his life would continually be in danger and where serving his sentence would be extremely unpleasant, and that is precisely what they have chosen to do. If he survives until the natural end of his life, so be it; if he is killed before that, tough luck.
The comment quoted above correctly surmises that a pretext for bringing up the “Bosnian genocide” might explain some of the motivation behind Dr Karadzic’s transfer to an unsafe British prison. Any occasion to bring up the “genocide” issue is good, as far as they are concerned. So there is always a propaganda benefit in that, and it is never to be lightly thrown away.
A key question is raised in the comment: Is there something brewing? It is unfortunately impossible to answer that question at the moment. The Hague Tribunal is an extended political arm of the Atlanticist NATO system. Much has been brewing lately where NATO is concerned. Some of its recent initiatives have turned out to be failures, bluffs and empty threats, of course. But it is difficult for us regular people to enter fully into the inner workings of such great strategic minds. We must observe the situation as it develops and connect the dots as we go along.
One thing is certain, however. The verdict in Dr Karadzic’s trial is a complete sham. His defense was not as spectacular as Milosevic’s (Karadzic is a psychiatrist, and unlike Milosevic not a lawyer) but as an extremely intelligent person he caught on fast and acquired impressive legal skills along the way. In the end, the Tribunal’s judgment was reduced to the sort of drivel that a second-year law student would find laughable. That makes the system hating the man’s guts fully understandable. The flimsy evidence presented by the prosecution compared to the witnesses and documents the outgunned Karadzic was still able to marshal and submit in the courtroom in his own defense must have greatly irritated and embittered the powers that be. The unflattering juxtaposition of the prosecution and defense cases will have been noted in legal history and analytical comparisons will inevitably be made in the defendant’s favor, once passions cool and the present iron grip over public discourse loosens.
This much can be said. There is no doubt that they would enjoy seeing Karadzic suffer a grisly death before his time. If deliberately putting him in harm’s way would accelerate the process without making them look overtly culpable, then so be it.