Sunday, September 27, 2009

Serbia seeks summit of developing nations

Serbia seeks summit of developing nations
By SLOBODAN LEKIC (AP) – 1 day ago
UNITED NATIONS — Serbia is proposing to host a summit of the 120-member Nonaligned Movement, which has angered the United States with its opposition to the invasion of Iraq and its support for Iran and Cuba.
Serbian President Boris Tadic invited on Friday leaders of nonaligned countries to meet in the Serbian capital of Belgrade to mark the movement's first summit held at the same venue in 1961.
At the time, Serbia was part of the Yugoslav federation whose leader Josip Broz Tito played a founding role in the organization.
Yugoslavia broke up in 1991. None of its six successor states is a member of NAM, and Tadic said that Egypt should chair the meeting.
"My country is the largest successor to a founding member of (NAM)," Tadic said in an address to the U.N. General Assembly. "That is why I have proposed that the 50th anniversary of the Nonaligned Movement be celebrated in Belgrade."
During the Cold War, the grouping of developing nations sought to steer a neutral role between the Western and Soviet blocs. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the movement — comprising diverse nations such as Cuba, Jamaica, India, Egypt, Indonesia, and Venezuela — adopted a critical view of the U.S and the developed world in general.
NAM has been sharply critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and has expressed support for the governments of Iran, Cuba and Zimbabwe. It has repeatedly condemned Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and the attacks on Gaza and Lebanon.
Earlier this month Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, dismissed the movement as "outdated."
Serbia has been at odds with Washington over America's recognition of the independence of Kosovo — a Serbian province that broke free of Belgrade after a brief war 10 years ago.
"Let me underline that Serbia will continue to engage with NAM ... because we believe that international stability and prosperity cannot be consolidated without taking into the views of the majority of the global family of nations," Tadic said.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Former ICTY Official Florence Hartman Found Guilty of Contempt

Former ICTY Official Found Guilty of Contempt

By Katherine Iliopoulos

Sunday, Sep 20, 2009

French journalist and investigative researcher, Florence Hartmann.
Florence Hartmann, a former spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, was found guilty of contempt of court by the Tribunal on September 14 and fined 7,000 Euros for disclosing confidential court decisions.

The French journalist was found to have knowingly disclosed the contents and effect of two confidential Appeals Chamber decisions rendered in the Slobodan Milosevic case, which ended prematurely when the accused died in detention in March 2006.

In her 2007 book, Paix et Châtiment (Peace and Punishment) and a subsequent article published by the Bosnian Institute in January 2008, Vital Genocide Documents Concealed, Hartmann revealed that the Appeals Chamber had agreed to grant protective measures over transcripts of meetings of the Serbian Supreme Defence Council (SDC) - which were admitted as evidence during the Milosevic trial - based on the 'national interests' of Serbia, which was being sued at the International Court of Justice by Bosnia over the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. Serbia had only agreed to supply these documents to the Prosecution and the Court on condition that they be the subject of protective measures.

The ICJ ultimately cleared Serbia of responsibility for genocide, but it did rule that it was liable for failing to prevent the genocide, thereby violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention of 1948. Hartmann wrote that many people believed that if the SDC evidence had been made available to the ICJ, it would not have cleared Serbia of responsibility for the genocide.

Presiding Judge Bakone Moloto said Hartmann had "knowingly and wilfully interfered with the administration of justice" by revealing the contents of the orders of the Appeals Chamber.

The Prosecutor submitted that the content of the decisions were still confidential at the time that Hartmann wrote about them, and the Court agreed. The Court acknowledged the Defence argument that some of what was contained in those decisions were already in the public domain. On this basis, the Defence had argued that Hartmann could reasonably have formed the view that the decisions were no longer confidential and that her revelation of 'publicly known facts' would not have posed a real risk to the administration of justice. Against this, the Prosecution argued that what information may be said to have been in the public domain was a discussion of the contents of the protected SDC documents, but not of the Appeals Chamber's reasoning and logic with respect to granting them their confidential status.

The Defence then tried to show that the disclosure of the reasoning and logic of the Appeals Chamber orders did not form part of the charges in the indictment against Hartmann and that therefore she could not be prosecuted for disclosure in that sense. The Court disagreed, pointing out that the indictment clearly stated that Hartmann was accused of disclosing the contents, purported effect and confidential nature of the two court orders - which does not exclude the legal reasoning of the Appeals Chamber - charges of which she was found guilty.

In effect, the Court found that Hartmann had revealed publicly for the first time that: "Several ICTY rulings show clearly that the ‘blacking out’ [of the SDC documents] was granted in order not to damage Serbia’s position in Bosnia’s case before the ICJ. They reveal that the ICTY judges admitted that public disclosure of the most sensitive part of the SDC minutes could have had a negative effect on the outcome of the proceedings before the ICJ. They also took into account that a genocide conviction would have had enormous political and economical consequences for Serbia".

Thus the ICTY judges in the Milosevic case agreed that Serbia’s ‘vital national interest’ in not compromising its position in the ICJ case could constitute a ‘national security interest’ relevant to the granting of protective measures at the request of a state. This logic is arguably unsound in law, and indeed Hartmann also revealed that the Office of the Prosecutor, headed at the time by Carla del Ponte, "considered that granting protective measures for the sole purpose of shielding Serbia from responsibility before another international court could be considered neither reasonable nor in accordance with the law and the ICTY rules".

Regarding the mental element of the offence of contempt, Hartmann's defence submitted that she did not have the specific intent to interfere with the administration of justice. However, the Prosecution had argued in its final trial brief that Hartmann wrote that both Appeals Chamber orders were marked 'confidential', and that with over twenty years of journalism experience, and her six years as OTP spokesperson during which time she operated within the Tribunal's confidentiality framework, meant that she must have known she was violating those court orders by disclosing their contents. The Court agreed with the Prosecution argument, on the basis of the most recent Tribunal jurisprudence, that "any defiance of an order of a Chamber per se interferes with the administration of justice for the purposes of a conviction for contempt".

In sentencing Hartmann to pay a fine of 7,000 Euros, the Court took into account that the risk of interference with the administration of justice "is real, and it is serious" because her conduct may deter sovereign states from co-operating with the Tribunal where the provision of evidentiary material is concerned. It must be noted however that this reasoning does not seem to fit well with Security Resolution 827 (1993), which imposes a legally binding obligation on all States, including the Governments of the Former Yugoslavia, to cooperate fully with the Tribunal.

In mitigation, the Court considered the fact that some information was already in the public domain, that Hartmann's book had not been a commercial success, her co-operation with the Tribunal and her lack of prior convictions.

In an interview with France 24, Hartmann's Co-Defence Counsel Guénaël Mettraux said, “It’s very likely that we will appeal, but we have not made a final decision yet. We have 15 days to decide according to court procedure.”

The case might also be brought before the European Court of Human Rights. In the defence brief, it was argued that the prosecution of the charges violates Hartmann's fundamental rights as a journalist - mainly the freedom of expression - under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. But in its judgment, the Court pointed out that under Article 10(2) of the Convention, the exercise of freedom of expression may be subject to such “formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society … for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary”. These interferences with the freedom of expression are applicable “even with respect to press coverage of matters of serious public concern”.

As a Balkans correspondent for Le Monde in the early 1990s, Hartmann had written about the discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of more than 200 people in Ovcara, Croatia. She gave evidence in 2006 before the ICTY in a case against three Yugoslav army officers accused of involvement in the mass killing. She also wrote a Case Study on Bosnia for the book, Crimes of War Project: What the Public Should Know.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kosovo debate before ICJ will start on Dec. 1

17. September 2009. | 13:42

Source: Beta

Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said on Sept. 16 that the official list of countries that will take part in the debate on the legality of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo before the Hague-based International Court of Justice has not been unveiled yet, adding that unconfirmed reports indicate that all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council will participate.

Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said on Sept. 16 that the official list of countries that will take part in the debate on the legality of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo before the Hague-based International Court of Justice has not been unveiled yet, adding that unconfirmed reports indicate that all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council will participate.

"What we can confirm unofficially is that all five permanent U.N. Security Council members will take part in the debate, for the first time in history, just as this is the first ever debate on the legality of unilaterally declared secession," Jeremic said after a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Belgrade.

Sept. 15 was the last day for applying for the public debate before the ICJ, which will start on Dec. 1.

In the first stage of the process, written statements were submitted by 36 U.N. members and the Pristina authorities, which have a special status, as Kosovo is not a U.N. member.

In the second stage, 14 states submitted comments on other countries' statements. The Pristina authorities also have the right to orally elaborate their petition and respond to the arguments of secession opponents.

In August 2008, Serbia sent the U.N. a resolution calling on the General Assembly to ask the ICJ for an advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

EU mission cars attacked in eastern Kosovo AGAIN!

16 Sep 2009 14:27:56 GMT
Source: Reuters
PRISTINA, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Unknown assailants hurled fire bombs at two EU mission cars on Wednesday, days after the mission signed a protocol on security and law enforcement cooperation with neighbouring Serbia.
The attack in the Gnjilane area, in eastern Kosovo, left one car of the European Union police and justice mission (EULEX) burned and another damaged, said Ismet Hashani, a Kosovo police spokesperson. There were no injuries.
"Inside the damaged car we found a petrol bottle that failed to ignite," Hashani said.
EULEX has condemned the attack and described it as an isolated incident.
Earlier this week, the EULEX, tasked with helping Kosovo authorities improve the rule of law, signed an agreement with Serbian police on sharing information for combating cross-border crime and trafficking.
Serbia is refusing to cooperate directly with the government in Pristina as it considers Kosovo a part of its territory.
Pristina initially rejected the agreement but later withdrew its objection after the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Italy assured the country's leaders the protocol would not jeopardize Kosovo's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On Monday, hundreds protested in Pristina against the agreement and last month more than 20 EULEX vehicles were damaged in Kosovo's capital. Police said 20 people were sentenced to one month in jail.
The EULEX mission was deployed to Kosovo after it declared independence from Serbia last year, replacing a United Nations mission.
In 1999 after a 78-day bombing campaign ended a Serb crackdown on Kosovo Albanians, NATO deployed a peacekeeping force to patrol the area. The Western alliance maintains 14,000 soldiers there, a decade after the end of the conflict. (Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by Aleksandar Vasovic)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Serbia: Four radical Muslims jailed for terror plot

Serbia: Four radical Muslims jailed for terror plot

Belgrade, 8 Sept. (AKI) - A special Serbian court has sentenced four radical Muslims from a the volatile Sandzak region of the country to up to eight years in prison each for planning terrorist attacks on targets in the Balkans. The four men were sentenced on charges of terrorism, illegal possession of weapons and alleged links with unidentified foreign terrorist groups, following an eight-month trial.

Adis Muric and Bajram Aslani were sentenced to eight years each, Nedzad Bulic to seven and Enes Mujanovic was given a four year jail term. Bulic and Aslani's sentenced were delivered in absentia as they earlier escaped from police and are on the run.

The four men were arrested in police raids in 2007 in the Sandzak region, which borders Kosovo. They are from predominantly Muslim town of Novi Pazar and adhere to the fundamentalist Wahabi interpretation of Islam followed by Osama bin Laden and many Al-Qaida members.

The group formed a cell in 2007 that planned to carry out terrorist acts in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia, judge Milan Ranic stated, explaining the court's verdict. The group's objective was to spread fear among citizens and to gain religious power.

The prosecution claimed the group planned to plant explosives at Novi Pazar football stadium and to kill policemen deployed there.

The group was in close contact with other Wahabis from Bosnia, Albania and Syria and had in their posession a large quantity of terrorism prosyletising materials, according to the court indictment .

The group was based in Novi Pazar and in Kosovska Mitrovica, where weapons and explosives were found.

Twelve Wahabis were sentenced in July to a total 60 years in jail for terrorism, conspiracy and planning terrorist attacks in Serbia, including a plot to assassinate local mufti Muamer Zukorlic, who the group considered to be an American spy and betrayer of Islam.

Most of those convicted were arrested in 2007 during a raid at a Wahabi training camp on Ninaj mountain in Sandzak, where police found a large weapons cache in a cave.

The group's leader Ismail Prentic was killed as security forces tried to arrest him in Donja Trnava village a month later.

The radical Islamist movement was brought to the Balkans by fighters from Muslim countries during the 1990s Bosnian war. Many have remained and are believed to operate camps and recruit young people in a bid to gain influence in Serbia, Bosnia and elsewhere in the region.

Wahabis preaches religious intolerance towards other religious groups, including moderate Muslims. Although still a small group, Wahabis are increasingly seen by officials and observers as a growing threat in the Balkan

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Phase of “Soft” Ethnic Cleansing of Serbian Kosovo Province

Phase of “Soft” Ethnic Cleansing of Serbian Kosovo Province

Sep 6th, 2009 | By | In Commentary, Kosovo-Metohija Crisis
Bishop Artemije: We are Citizens of Serbia

“We are citizens of Serbia”, Bishop of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija Diocese, His Grace Artemije

Unable to carry out the final pogrom of the remaining Serbs and other non-Albanians in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija while the World Court is deliberating on the illegality of Priština’s unilateral declaration of independence, ruling Albanian terrorists, guided by the Empire’s administrators, are using other methods to finish the ethnic cleansing of the province — “random acts of violence” against the province’s Serbs, populating predominantly Serbian north with Albanians and cutting off electricity to Serbian ghettos are among the favorite means KLA thugs employ nowadays.

Last Wednesday the electricity was cut off to the 14th century seat of Serbian Orthodox Church, Peć Patriarchate and Monasteries Gračanica and Devič.

Bishop of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija Diocese, His Grace Artemije, who was forced to leave his residence in Prizren (razed in March 2004 pogrom) and was moved to Gračanica Monastery, said his diocese will not sign any “agreements” with Albanian-seized “Kosovo Energy Corporation” (”KEK”, built and owned by the Serbs, by the way, in 1960s and 1980s), which are put together to extort tacit recognition of the mafia state on Serbian territory.

“This is the latest attack against the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija,” Bishop Artemije said.

“They first cut electricity off to Serb-populated villages. Once they were broken, the monasteries came under attack. They started during past winter, when Monastery Gorioč was left without electricity. In this way, they moved us back to the middle ages, only not the dark middle ages, but the golden ones. We shall illuminate our chambers with candles and vigil lamps, like our ancestors,” Bishop said.

“If Europe believes we need to be punished, so be it,” he added.

Bishop Artemije explained the issue has nothing to do with money, or paying the electricity bills, as the Western mainstream is always happy to report.

The problem is in the agreements Priština wants to force the head of Serbian Kosovo-Metohija Diocese to sign, by which the leader of Serbian Orthodox Christians in Kosovo province would tacitly recognize illegal, terrorist state on Serbian territory.

“We want to pay the electricity, but not in a way they are demanding from us. We do not want to sign any of their papers. We are citizens of Serbia and we expect our state to help us with these problems,” Bishop Artemije said.

Friday, September 4, 2009

1,212 displaced families apply for return to Kosovo

1,212 displaced families apply for return to Kosovo

Source: Government of Serbia
Date: 04 Sep 2009

Belgrade, Sept 4, 2009 – Serbian Assistant Minister for Kosovo-Metohija Bojan Andjelkovic said today that 1,212 families or 3,200 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have applied to return to Kosovo.

Speaking at a press conference about the completion of the return application registration and the problems of IDPs in Djakovica, Anjelkovic said that the registration process was completed between March and the middle of August and was limited to IDPs in 55 refugee centers and those who expressed a wish to return to Kosovo.

He said that the registration did not include IDPs who have private accommodation or those Serbs and non-Albanians who were driven out of their homes but remained in the province.

He said that of the total of the IDPs registered, nearly 10% or more, more than 400 individuals, belong to ethnic minorities, Roma, Muslim, etc.

Andjelkovic said that 848 housing units need to be reconstructed or rebuilt for the return of those registered this year, noting that 340 houses were completely destroyed while others can be reconstructed.

According to Andjelkovic, 240 apartments owned by Serbs and now illegally occupied by Albanians need there present occupiers evicting.

Most of these apartments are in Djakovica, he said noting, that 228 families from Djakovica have applied to return.

Another 100 apartments should be built to house the displaced there, Andjelkovic said.

Andjelkovic announced a plan for renovating neglected or devastated Orthodox cemeteries in Kosovo, noting that 437 such cemeteries exist in the province.

There are also some cemeteries that have not been registered, including the Jewish cemetery in Pristina, he said.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


September 3, 2009

The OSCE found a large number of cases in Kosovo where property, which belonged to the displaced Serbs, was sold without their knowledge, and most often with forged personal documents and seals. Due to their absence, the IDPs were not aware of transactions until later, reads the report the OSCE presented in Pristina. It was pointed out that the sale was conducted based on forged documents, which has led to serious violation of human rights and represented an obstacle to the return of the displaced Serbs and restitution of their property. According to records of the OSCE Commission, there are 70 cases where it is suspected the crime of the illegal residential property. Sale was committed.