Den internasjonale domstolen i Haag gjorde ikke jobben sin godt nok da den frikjente Serbia for ansvaret for Srebrenica-massakren. Haag-domstolen unnlot å be Serbia om de militære arkivene som kunne gitt svar på spørsmålet om ansvar.

Under rettssaken mot Slobodan Milosevic for krigsforbryterdomstolen fikk hans advokater lov til å anvende serbiske krigsarkiv som ble sperret for offentlighetens innsyn.

Da Bosnias sak mot Jugoslavia kom opp for Haag-domstolen, var disse dokumentene av stor betydning. Men domstolen unnlot å be om dem. Det kan ha reddet Serbia fra å bli dømt ansvarlig og dermed erstatningspliktig overfor Bosnia.

In the spring of 2003, during the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, hundreds of documents arrived at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague marked «Defense. State Secret. Strictly Confidential.

The cache contained minutes of wartime meetings of Yugoslavia’s political and military leaders, and promised the best inside view of Serbia’s role in the Bosnian war of 1992-1995.

But there was a catch. Serbia, the heir to Yugoslavia, obtained the tribunal’s permission to keep parts of the archives out of the public eye. Citing national security, its lawyers blacked out many sensitive — those who have seen them say incriminating — pages. Judges and lawyers at the war crimes tribunal could see the censored material, but it was barred from the tribunal’s public records.

Now, lawyers and others who were involved in Serbia’s bid for secrecy say that, at the time, Belgrade made its true objective clear: to keep the full military archives from the International Court of Justice, where Bosnia was suing Serbia for genocide. And they say Belgrade’s goal was achieved in February, when the international court, which is also in The Hague, declared Serbia not guilty of genocide, and absolved it from paying potentially enormous damages.

Lawyers interviewed in The Hague and Belgrade said that the outcome might well have been different had the International Court of Justice pressed for access to the full archives, and legal scholars and human rights groups said it was deeply troubling that the judges did not subpoena the documents directly from Serbia. At one point, the court rebuffed a Bosnian request that it demand the full documents, saying that ample evidence was available in tribunal records.

Genocide Court Ruled for Serbia Without Seeing Full War Archive

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