Articles on the Kosovo and Bosnia Conflicts




October 11, 2007

Interview with Mrs. Florence Hartmann, former spokesperson of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague and author of the book “Peace and Punishment” in which she describes the mechanisms and politics influencing the international criminal justice system.

Sebastian Aulich: Why did you decide to write your book? What made you to write it?


Florence Hartmann: International justice finally exists but is still fragile and may be even in danger in this new century. The hopes given to humanity by creating the first ever established judicial bodies to implement international humanitarian law should not be destroyed. The ICC is the best gift we have from the bloody XX century. International justice is not prefect, it has deficiencies, it doesn’t work as we wish, we have not succeeded to put an end to impunity but the process is on and should be sustained. Therefore, I believe it was necessary to learn from the experience of the first international criminal court established since Nuremberg and Tokyo. With ICTY we have almost 15 years of experience of how an international judicial body works, what gave us important information about the problems, deficiencies and negatives, which were part of the ICTY experience. I also believe it would be very useful for others to better understand what was going on in the ICTY, what was not functioning properly, why there is some frustration about international justice system. It isn’t easy for somebody from the outside to figure those things out, identify and understand them. Therefore I wanted to write about all those difficulties, how they were overcome or how they failed to be overcome, about what was going right and what was going wrong. I believe it is something very precious and we need to assist international justice. I wanted to explain that the problem was not primarily with the international justice but with some external factors. It will take time for international justice to become independent and it was important to write about political influences on the ICTY in order to protect it from such political pressures in the future. The book’s purpose is to identify the problem, not to generalize it. I am a journalist. I worked as a journalist before I started to work at the Tribunal, therefore I believe in a necessity to inform. In this case there were many things, which appeared to be necessary to write about, the things related to ICTY but also some elements related to the conflict in former Yugoslavia. I have been covering the Balkans’ issues since 1987. Do you think it is wrong to write such a book?


SA: Not at all. I think it is good you published your book because it gives us better understanding of what is going on inside the Tribunal…

That was my goal. It was not a kind of a story I should be keeping only to myself.


SA: What did you want to suggest by naming your book “Peace and Punishment”?


Well. You can have peace and you can have punishment. The punishment is what the justice is supposed to do. The peace is supposed to be done by the politicians. But you can not have a real and long lasting peace without justice. Therefore you need to have the interest of the politics and the interests of justice coinciding. The problem is that in many occasions the “realpolitik” seems to be sacrificing the interests of justice. Impunity is still a main card in the hands of diplomats to bring the belligerents to the green table. “Peace and Punishment” is also the two positive elements, the opposite of war and crimes.


SA: Let me ask a question about some recent developments first. On September 27, ICTY sentenced Mile Mrkšic and Veselin Šljivancanin for the crimes connected to the Vukovar massacre but acquitted Miroslav Radic. Last Friday, Croatia responded by issuing an international arrest warrant to apprehend Miroslav Radic and accused him of orchestrating the bombardments of Vukovar between 1991 and 1995. In the lights of these recent developments, is the Hague Tribunal an efficient judicial body? Is the Tribunal really doing what it is supposed to do?


I wouldn’t judge the efficiency of the international justice only on one judgment. Whether national or international justice can succeed in establishing the truth depends on access to evidence. I have commented in depth the Vukovar judgment in the Croatian press recently. I was a witness in that case. As a journalist for the French daily Le Monde, I revealed to the public the location of the mass grave in Vukovar. The U.N. found the mass grave in 1992 but they didn’t say what happened or who the victims were. Then I went over there following the testimony of a survivor and I found the place. I could then link the mass grave which was announced with the story of the survivor who survived the killings of more than 200 patients from the Vukovar hospital in November 1991. It is a little difficult for me to comment on this judgment because I was a witness in that case and I was covering the region at the time and have my personal experience on who was in charge there at the time. But that is not sufficient evidence for a tribunal.  The prosecution had to convince the Chamber through evidence that the Yugoslav army, which officers were indicted, was in charge and had command responsibility over the volunteers and local forces who committed the crime. The judges were not satisfied with the evidence. It should be analyzed deeply why they were not, despite the hard evidence was provided. Then the Yugoslav army commanders who handed over prisoners of war to local units and volunteers known for not respecting the Geneva Convention were not found responsible for the killings of the PW they had left with no protections because they had not ordered it explicitly.  In my opinion and on the basis of my experience of the Yugoslav conflict, you don’t need to give any orders: handing over “enemies” to their killers is equal to an order to kill, only an order not to kill them could have prevented the crime. The Yugoslav army commanders gave the order to withdraw the military police and they knew exactly what would happen next. So I don’t see why the criminal responsibility is not any more valid after they turned their back on what was going on.  These findings are quite surprising to me. The judges believe that the local units and the volunteers were not any more under Yugoslav army control at the time of the crimes. I don’t believe that this reflects the reality of what was going on then. But if so then the prosecution has not provided sufficient evidence to establish the truth. In Croatia, they have been condemning the judgment. It is something emotional, however I understand their reaction. But if you want to analyze this judgment you can not be emotional.


SA: Let me ask a question about Rwanda. If I understand it correctly, you claim in your book that the U.S. did not agree for the Tribunal for Rwanda to have jurisdiction over the RPF soldiers. Nevertheless, the official position of the U.S. is however that they supported a concept of Tribunal acquiring jurisdiction based on the complementarity’s rule, meaning that should Rwanda fail to prosecute the RPF soldiers, the Tribunal would acquire the jurisdiction.


I regret but the ICTR by its Statute established by a 1994 UNSC resolution has primacy over domestic jurisdiction. No state can challenge the jurisdiction of the tribunal and interfere in the judicial process. That is also in the Statute. The ICC has been established on the principle of complementarity’s rule but the ad hoc tribunals, ICTY and ICTR, had primacy, which means priority over domestic judiciary. The U.S. wanted the ICTR prosecutor, namely Carla Del Ponte, to give up her investigations on alleged crimes committed by the RPF soldiers so that she can concentrate on the genocide cases. Well, there would be nothing wrong to give the RPF investigations to the Rwandan judiciary if the Rwandan authorities had a political will to prosecute their own soldiers for war crimes committed against those who were fleeing Rwanda after committing or supporting the genocide.  But the fact is that president Kagame who led the RPF army was against prosecuting his men who put an end to the genocide by defeating the Hutus extremists. The U.S. knew it and requested the ICTR chief prosecutor not only to leave the Rwandan judiciary dealing with those cases but to renounce to her jurisdiction to take over back those cases if Rwanda failed to properly investigate and prosecute RPF soldiers. Such a request was not valid in regard to the law and the ICTR statute. Nevertheless, the US made direct pressure on Del Ponte to forget about the RPF investigations, and I have provided very precisely the wording of those pressures in my book, the date and the place where it occurred.  Her refusal was by the law. Nevertheless, the US succeeded through Rwanda and the UK to have Del Ponte’s mandate at the ICTR not renewed in September 2003.  Since then neither ICTR nor the Rwandan judiciary have investigated or prosecuted any of the RPF suspects.   


SA: What do you believe was the role of the United States in capturing, apprehending and transferring the war criminals to the U.N. tribunals? You seem very critical of U.S. role and its engagement.


I am critical of the U.S., the U.K. and France altogether. They did contribute to arrests of other criminals but not to the arrests of Karadzic and Mladic. It’s not only about the U.S. In my book I go through all 12 years since Karadzic and Mladic are under an international arrest warrant for genocide and crimes against humanity (1995), giving ample examples of what happened in relation to both fugitives.  12 years of facts well documented and I provide evidence, including quotations of high level U.S., UK and French officials that lead to one conclusion. It was not the lack of information. On the contrary, there was in fact a lot of information leading to the arrests of Karadzic and Mladic and there were enough international forces, including the U.K.’s, France’s and American soldiers to do it. A lot of war criminals were arrested by NATO or thanks to the pressure by the EU or the U.S. on local governments to get those indictees, who were not being handed over. But it doesn’t relate to Karadzic and Mladic. Even when the U.S. and the EU applied strong pressure on Belgrade to get Mladic who is in Serbia since 1997, they would eventually step back each time saying that they were satisfied with the arrests of other fugitives. Well, that can be a carrot and stick strategy to bring Serbia to fulfill its obligation but when for years you don’t have result then you withhold the carrot until you get result. In November 2006, Serbia was anyway authorized to join the NATO Partnership for Peace despite that handing over of Mladic was a pre-condition to its membership. The EU is now ready to give to Serbia a free access to EU candidacy despite that Belgrade still protects Mladic from being brought to justice. But that is only the end of a long story which illustrates not only the failure to get Mladic and Karadzic but a pattern of behaviors and decisions by the Western powers that inferred that there was a clear policy of not bringing Karadzic and Mladic to justice. Even when the Tribunal created its own tracking team early in 2002 to overcome the obstacles and succeeded in locating Karadzic in Serbia and in Bosnia, big powers refused to act. I have quoted officials saying in multiple occasions that a green light from President Clinton, and it appears that a green light from President Chirac was also required, was necessary in order to arrest Karadzic and Mladic. How can you arrest a fugitive within the next few hours after locating him if you need the green light of one or more heads of State? Firstly, they should have given a general a green light and delegate the final decision to someone accessible at any time. But they did not because in fact there was a red light. That is why Karadzic and Mladic are still at large after 12 years. Another example you’ll find in the book: Joschka Fisher, the German minister of Foreign Affairs told Del Ponte, the ICTY chief prosecutor that according to his secret services, Paddy Ashdown, a UK politician who was the international high representative in Bosnia, met with Karadzic at the end of 2003 in Bosnia! Despite all of that, our Western governments continue to tell us: “we want the two most wanted fugitives transferred to the Hague but we can’t locate them! 


SA: This however leads to another question. Veseljin Sljivancanin, who was captured in June 2003, was nobody as important as Karadzic or Mladic, however he was apprehended only after 10 hours of fighting between police and the crowd, which was fiercely defending him. As a consequence 80 people were injured. Therefore one may assume that apprehending Karadzic or Mladic would cause huge civil disturbances in the region and some people could even die.


Firstly, there was no fighting while Sljivancanin was being apprehended. It took so much time to apprehend him because the police had to force the armored door he had installed at the entrance of his bedroom. The crowd was outside the building and Sljivancanin was waiting in his bed when the police open the door. There was no fight. It just took hours to get him out due to the door. He was protected by the army until, under international pressure, Serbia had to withdraw this protection and conduct the arrest. There are of course difficulties such as hostile environment or lack of cooperation from local governments. But it is possible to overcome those problems in regards to almost all fugitives (ICTY has 4 indictees still at large including Karadzic and Mladic). I worked six years with Del Ponte’s team and we were working each single day on Karadzic and Mladic and on the other fugitives. There were over 30 fugitives at one point and mainly in Serbia. Some were even in Russia. That was not easy, but we found a way despite Russia’s obstruction, which was denying harboring ICTY indictees. The evidence, because these are not allegations, you’ll find in the chapter of “Peace and Punishment” that has not yet been translated into English. This evidence is documented and shows that there was not only a lack of will but a deliberate policy by the Western powers not to arrest them.  They always deny that because it is unacceptable. They always respond that it is just a matter of time and as soon as they know where Karadzic is they will arrest him. Then, once the Prosecutor requests NATO to catch him saying that he has seen Karadzic in a Bosnian Serb town of Foca, having a coffee with a female. And although NATO claims that for more than a year they don’t know where Karadzic is, they respond that he could not be on that day in Foca because he was then for several days in Belgrade! . I wish the Western powers to challenge the evidence I have brought to the public knowledge through my book. For now, only the U.S. is denying everything calling it a lie, but they are not challenging the very evidence, which I refer to.  Instead of denying in France, Belgium or Switzerland were the book is available,  they have chosen to speak to the Balkans media despite that the book will be available in the local language only in November. For example they deny in the Bosnian press that Holbrooke signed an immunity agreement with Karadzic, but in fact I never said or wrote that Holbrooke did sign any agreement with him. What I wrote is that Karadzic’s family says that he signed such an agreement, and that Holbrooke and the U.S. have always denied it. We don’t have any hard evidence that there was any agreement between Karadzic and Holbrooke. I even underline it in my book that the only alleged agreement, which was published in the local Bosnian press, is a fake one.


SA: So you don’t have any evidence of any U.S. official making a secret deal with Mladic and Karadzic? You are just saying that there are some facts showing that the U.S. was not willing to arrest them?


I repeat if there is a secret deal between the U.S. and Karadzic or even one between Mladic and France, for the moment we don’t have any hard evidence. So, the Serbs should provide convincing evidence if they want the public to believe them. But for the moment we cannot say that it existed and we cannot rule it out completely. These are not “some facts” showing that not only the U.S. but also France and UK were unwilling to arrest them. All of the facts through the last 12 years show that they were not hunting Karadzic. They had him all the time under surveillance, sometimes he surely escaped this surveillance, but they had him at their reach, but they did not act to bring him to justice. I don’t believe that a secret deal could explain this tragic policy. They had thousands of reasons to break the deal which was not legal and not binding. They have been reluctant at the beginning to arrest them because of the fear that the peace agreement could be derailed, however since years that risk does not exist anymore. To the contrary, their non-arrest is a factor of instability in the region. However the non-arrest of Karadzic is the consequence of something deeper than a deal with war criminals. In order to understand you have to go back to1995 when the great powers were desperate to get a peace agreement after more than 3 years of war and crimes and diplomatic failures. Then you would understand that the price for peace was tragically high and that it is why they don’t want Karadzic and Mladic at trial to allow them to blame the Western powers, which have not stopped them, for crimes they have committed themselves.


SA: But don’t you think that the reason why the Western powers have been acting like that is because of the Milosevic’s trial? He was the most wanted war criminal, he was captured and transferred to ICTY but his trial became a political circus. He was allowed to politically attack the Western powers and politicians from the courtroom and it didn’t have much to do with criminal justice. Why would the Western powers want to increase their endeavors to apprehend Karadzic and Mladic and start more such politicized trials?


His trial has not become a political circus. Milosevic has used the court room to make political speeches and could do it because he was authorized to represent himself. Under continental law that would not be possible. Nevertheless Milosevic did not challenge seriously the evidence which was brought against him because he spent most of his time making political speeches. He did not dare responding to the charge of genocide. Political speeches are not efficient in court. They may be for his people back home but they have no effect on the judicial process.  And during the trial, hundreds of thousands pages of testimony and documents against him were provided to the court. After the prosecution case, the Chamber said it was satisfied with the evidence to keep all the counts in the indictment, including genocide. The prosecution evidence is mostly public evidence, not all, but mostly, and it is the best documentation ever gathered on the criminal enterprise conducted by Milosevic regime. The trial did not lead to a judgment due to the death of the accused but the evidence will be the reference for historians and others to understand what happened in the Balkans in the 90’s. It is criminal justice, but a fair justice that enables the accused to defend himself even if he prefers political speeches than a more constructive defense.  Milosevic was saying that he doesn’t recognize the Tribunal, but he played along the rules and made his defense, a political one but that was his choice despite the limited efficiency of such a defense.


The reason why western powers don’t want to see Karadzic and Mladic on trial is not their endless and useless political speeches we have already heard for years but their very likely intent to put the blame for the crimes they have committed on international community by saying that they have been given a green or orange light to take over the Srebrenica enclave. This territory, which Milosevic wanted in order to have a compact territory to sign for at the peace talks, was sacrificed to the Serb side despite that it was under international (UN) protection. It was sacrificed in order to get a peace agreement. By sacrificing Srebrenica, Western powers have created the conditions for mass killings to happen. They did not take any measures to prevent or stop it and the price of peace became high and terrific, 8000 lives taken in three days.


Western powers have already showed during the Milosevic case that there were not comfortable with evidence related to Srebrenica.  I have precisely listed in my book which kind of evidence Western governments wanted to give us and which they wanted to hide and how they were trying to disrupt the process related to Srebrenica and especially the foreseeability of the killings. They simply don’t want some elements related to Srebrenica to be available to the public. As a matter of fact they had nothing against that Milosevic was tried. But they wanted him to be tried on specific evidence they provided, what is explained in the book. They didn’t want the Tribunal to go deeper in the involvement of Belgrade in Bosnia and specifically in Srebrenica. But Milosevic was not so dangerous for them as Karadzic and Mladic could be. Milosevic did not want to speak about Srebrenica and the charge of genocide against him. He was simply saying I have nothing to do with it which was exactly what Western powers were saying about him.  Western powers prefer to keep Mladic and Karadzic far from the dock because, contrary to Milosevic, they can not deny their involvement and therefore they would disclose what they know about the most disgraceful decisions that could have been made by our governments during the war and the peace negotiations. Even if it doesn’t help Karadzic and Mladic to avoid conviction, it would damage the credibility of the Western powers. And it is their goal. As it was probably Saddam Hussein’s goal but the tribunal were he was tried was made not for him to speak too much.


SA: In one of your recent interviews you said that what happened in Dayton, more precisely the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, made Western powers accomplices of people committing genocide in Bosnia.


Yes. Milosevic didn’t want to sign the peace agreement without having some part of territory he did not have control of. So the Western powers decided to sacrifice some territory to get his signature and achieve peace. The aim was to get the peace to stop the sufferings in Bosnia. But by making this compromise, by giving what Milosevic was requesting they created a condition for a massacre. The price for the peace was 8 thousand lives.


SA: Let me make sure if I understand correctly. What you are saying is that the Western powers were aware in advance that by sacrificing some territory, in this instance Srebrenica, they were agreeing that an act of genocide would happen?


Not at all. They did not agree to the crimes, they agreed by closing their eyes to the military operation against Srebrenica which could not lead to anything else but the take over of the enclave. This territory was, since the first attempt to overrun it by the Serb forces in 1993, a “protected area” under a UN Security Council’s resolution. They had the obligation to protect the “safe area” but they did not.  Officially they said that they didn’t know that the enclave would have been overrun. By saying that they wanted to make clear that they couldn’t foresee the massacre because as soon as the enclave would fall in the hands of general Mladic, it was clear that there was going to be a massacre if the population was left unprotected. Western powers had advance notice of the offensive, they knew that the Serb forces were equipped for the take over of the enclave. They had to prepare a response in case of such a scenario, they did not. They had to take measure to protect the population after the fall of Srebrenica, they did not. They had to act when they found out that the killings had started they did not. They had advance notice and ongoing information that Milosevic and his men were involved but they did not act even by diplomatic means in Belgrade in order to prevent the killings. And then when the 8000 men were killed in few days, the mass grave were located by air picture, the testimonies of survivors were starting to be collected, they sat at the peace table with Milosevic and gave him the territory on which the genocide just happened and signed the peace agreement.


SA: So you believe that the U.S. sacrificed lives of 8.000 Muslims to get the peace agreement signed?


Don’t put it this way. Come on. You try to put it in this stereotype that here you have a French attacking the U.S. again. I am talking not only about the U.S., but also about France and the U.K. And whether the U.S. was leading these peace negotiations and in this case indeed the U.S. was doing so from May until November 1995, still France and the U.K. were participating and agreed to all what was decided. If France and the U.K. were against it, they would have chosen another option. At one point there was a phone conversation between Chirac and Clinton to do something about the men and the women being separated in Srebrenica and the very likely killings of the male population, but the U.S. did not want to assist with air support and nothing happened. France accepted it and did not protest and let the crimes being committed. So it’s not only about the U.S. It is about the main Western players in the Balkans: the U.S., France and the UK. The fact is however that they did know that an offensive on Srebrenica was going to happen. Our investigation revealed that the U.S. had very good intelligence capacity in the region in 1995. They created an intelligence underground compound in Croatia in order to intercept conversation of the Serbian leadership. We were interested in the U.S. intelligence materials because of our investigation against Milosevic and especially in conversations between the Serbian and the Bosnian Serb leadership in spring and summer of 1995. However the U.S. refused to give it to us. So far we know however that Mladic was in contact with the Belgrade leadership to prepare the attack on Srebrenica. So only by intercepting those conversations the U.S. had enough advance notice of what was going to happen. Through other intelligence means, they knew that special units trained to kill were joining the area just before the beginning of the offensive. But neither the U.S. nor France or the UK did anything to stop it. We don’t have even a small piece of evidence that they went to Belgrade to persuade Milosevic not to touch the population of any of those enclaves. Those people were protected by international law. However what happened afterwards is that they gave those enclaves in Dayton to Bosnian Serbs, the perpetrators of the massacre. So there is a problem. The U.K., France and the U.S. agreed to give up a territory were 8.000 men protected by international law were killed and to give this territory to the perpetrators. Of course, now they are denying it that was the condition of signing the peace agreement by Bosnian Serbs and Milosevic. They are denying that it was a pre-condition Milosevic had imposed on them to get Srebrenica and Zepa and that he also wanted Gorazdze. As a matter of fact Richard Holbrooke said in front of a camera that he had instructions to sacrifice Gorazdze, Zepa and Srebrenica. Also in a previous Kinkel-Juppe plan they didn’t give Zepa and Srebrenica to the Serbs, but Milosevic didn’t agree to this map, so the following map was a Dayton map in which Srebrenica and Zepa went to the Serbs.


SA: In one of your previous interviews you said that Dragomir Kojic is a person organizing Karadzic’s secret life. Also that back in 1998 he was doing business with companies financed by the U.S. Department of State. In other words, are you saying that the State Department was indirectly, by third parties, providing money to Karadzic to help him to stay in hiding?


Yes, and they did not stop doing it for years despite that they knew that Kojic was one among others providing money to Karadzic for protection when “hiding”. But that’s only one example. Not the only one.  But this example is quite interesting because the EU was also financing Kojic’s company through a Greek de-mining company!


SA: How do you know that Dragomir Kojic is responsible for organizing Karadzic’s secret life?


I am not saying that he is organizing Karadzic’s secret life. I am just saying that at one point he was financing it. Afterwards because of the pressure from ICTY he was blacklisted for financing Karadzic, which included not only giving money to Karadzic himself but also to his former party. This story was well known in the media at that time. Kojic was former Karadzic’s chief of police. Suddenly he became a millionaire thanks to the maps of the mines put in the ground during the war by his own men or by his fellow soldiers. Those were dollars provided by the U.S. and the EU. Back in 1998, Kojic was found financing Karadzic with this money. It’s only one example. Also Karadzic was writing letters to his family, which were very interesting because those letters showed how much he was aware of what was going on, what showed that he was not far away from the region because he had read the newspapers, he was following the news in TV etc. In those letters he was also discussing business, suggesting investments to his family and requesting that certain things be provided to him. For instance new shirts! For years those letters were not handed over to the ICTY although there were basic documents for conducting an investigation on a fugitive. We started receiving those letters only in 2003 and still firstly they were given to the press not to the ICTY.


SA: Let’s go back to the deal-making issue. You said in your book that there was a U.S. citizen and an employee of ICTY, Paul Nell, who had a series of secret meetings with Karadzic to negotiate his surrender and that he was told by Karadzic that there was a deal between him and Richard Holbrooke, who promised Karadzic that he would not be handed over to the Tribunal.


That’s what Karadzic told him, but it doesn’t mean what Karadzic said is necessarily true.


SA: Are there any official transcripts of those conversations between Paul Nell and Karadzic?


Yes, there are official reports related to those conversations kept by ICTY and I am quoting in my book directly from those reports. Paul Nell was indeed a U.S. citizen, however he worked for the office of the prosecutor and met Karadzic in that capacity and on the request of Louise Arbour, then the chief prosecutor who wanted to bring Karadzic to a voluntary surrender as she could not count on NATO to go hunting him. Those meetings with Karadzic led to the situation that I mentioned before, when the ICTY asked NATO commander in Bosnia, if they would be ready to transfer Karadzic to the Hague or take military action in case he refused to surrender. They wouldn’t do that without Clinton’s “ok”. There was always something preventing them to take any kind of action. They were not jumping at the opportunity.


SA: In your book you also talk about the meeting between Wesley Clark and Louise Arbour at NATO’s headquarters during which they were discussing Karadzic’s surrender and Wesley Clark was supposed to say that if Karadzic was brought to justice he would allege a deal with Warren Christopher that Karadzic would never end up in the Hague. Were you present during this conversation?


No, I was not present during this conversation because I was not with the Tribunal at that time. But I have the transcript of that conversation and Wesley Clark did say exactly what I quoted in my book and it has been certified by those from the ICTY present at the meeting.


SA: So there is an official transcript of this conversation with all those things being said, which you are quoting in your book?


Yes, there is a report of this conversation. And that’s what Wesley Clark said to Louis Arbour. That’s the fact. It is something he has to clarify himself.


SA: But that official report, is it from ICTY or NATO’s headquarters? Which report did you quote from?


I have only the official ICTY version from an ICTY report, which I had access to because those were the things we were working on over there.


SA: So all the quotations in your book are based only on the reports kept by ICTY?


Yes, it’s all documented in ICTY’s reports. I had to rely on them because in my book I was also describing events that took place before I started to work at the ICTY. After that, I was also using my private notes because I was present during the majority of the meetings I refer to after I began to work at the Tribunal. In respect to the meeting at NATO’s headquarters that you are asking about, I used the report from the ICTY in which there are described statements Wesley Clark made to Louise Arbour. I have no idea what is in the official report held by NATO’s headquarters.


SA: It seems like your book has a good timing because of the presidential campaign in the U.S.


It was a coincidence. And to be honest, I did not think at all about this while writing. Instead I was thinking about another crucial timing, the UNSC resolution that will be deciding whether the Tribunal should close its doors before trying Karadzic and Mladic. That was my main concern and it will be on the agenda in the following months, at the latest in the course of 2008. Relating to the U.S. presidential campaign, the thing is that in my book I describe endeavors of both the Clinton Administration and the Bush Administration. For example in respect to the Bush Administration, I describe what Pierre Prosper did to pressure the Tribunal for Yugoslavia. I describe how the U.S. pressured the prosecutors to give up indictments of some war criminals, how he was giving instructions, interfering in the legal process, threatening, etc. I am also describing U.S. foreign policy in respect to Rwanda, that they wanted the ICTR to investigate the RPF soldiers only as a last possible option. I quoted what was really said during the meeting at the U.S. State Department, what was later on misrepresented to the press. I quoted exactly what Prosper said to us. He said “you will give the investigations to the Rwandan judiciary and you will not take those investigations back”. These are all very precise quotations. He said the Rwandan government will be the only one in charge of the investigations of the RPF members. The ICTR’s prosecutors wouldn’t have any control of what was going on with it. And that it is what happened after they sacked Del Ponte from the ICTR. There was no RPF investigation whether at the ICTR or before the Rwandan judiciary. But there was a UNSC resolution in 2003 and then in 2004 underlying that the ICTR should conduct the RPF investigations in accordance with its mandate. 


SA: Do you have any official transcripts of that meeting?


Well, I have my own personal notes, I was present at all the meetings related to this issue in Washington. And I have the document prepared by Washington and that Washington wanted Del Ponte to sign which is clearly contrary to the ICTR statute.


SA: Carla Del Ponte is finishing her mandate this year. Should we expect a similar book from her in which she will be describing the issues we are discussing right now? I read an interview she gave recently in which she said she is investigating the things you are talking about in your book.


She said that she will write her memoirs. However I don’t know which approach she will choose. My book describes relation between international politics and international justice.  Let’s wait. I guess she will not wait long before telling her part of the story. She did not deny my book but she has not been commenting on it publicly.


Originally published at


Balkan Witness Home Page

Articles index


Articles by Roger Lippman




Contact Balkan Witness

Report broken links