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Experts discuss criminal tribunal case

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Nearly four years after the death of the infamous former president of Serbia and the former Yugoslavia who was on trial for murder and crimes against humanity, an Indiana law school hosted The Milosevic Trial: An Autopsy, a conference of more than 20 experts on the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Authorities on Eastern European and Russian history and politics, international criminal law, and other issues that came into play during Milosevic's trial gathered Feb. 18-21 at Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington. The ultimate goal is to publish a book that will provide a comprehensive look at the process of Milosevic's trial and how his death affected the outcome, or lack of outcome.

Law professor Timothy William Waters, who organized the conference, is a former member of the Office of the Prosecutor for the ICTY and helped draft the Kosovo indictment for Milosevic.

That indictment, issued May 24, 1999, regarded his treatment of Albanian civilians in Kosovo, including "forced deportation of approximately 800,000 Kosovo Albanian civilians. ... The murder of hundreds of Kosovo Albanian civilians ... in a widespread or systematic manner throughout the province of Kosovo. The sexual assault by forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia against Kosovo Albanians, in particular women. Widespread or systematic campaign of destruction of property owned by Kosovo Albanian civilians ..." according to case information available through the ICTY.

Milosevic was also indicted in October 2001 for similar crimes against Croat and other non-Serbian civilians in Croatia, and indicted again in November 2001 for crimes against Bosnian Muslims and non-Serbian civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He was arrested April 1, 2001, and his case was transferred to the ICTY June 29, 2001. His trial began Feb. 12, 2002, following no pleas to any of the charges against him.

The trial officially ended without a judgment March 14, 2006, days after his death on March 11, 2006, which was found to be due to natural causes. He was 65 and had been complaining of illness throughout the trial.

Waters, who had been teaching classes about the Milosevic trial and invited current students to observe the February conference, first started organizing the speakers in March 2009. He said his intent was that panelists would have a mix of backgrounds, including people from the former Yugoslavia, professors, historians, and legal experts, and others with a stake in Milosevic's trial.

Among the goals for conference attendees was for them to determine if it mattered that there was no judgment, or if there was anything to be learned from the process for future international criminal cases.

"Everyone knew this was the biggest case they'd do. There were a lot of hopes attached to it," Waters said. "The way it ended is almost more interesting than if there had been a judgment."

Among the questions he wanted the conference to address was what happened to all the claims against Milosevic after his case ended?

When he got the idea for the conference, his goal was to have three kinds of people: those who worked on the trial, those who were scholars of international criminal law, journalists and various experts on the former Yugoslavia.

"To just have lawyers or only Yugoslavians talk would leave out a lot," he said.

During the conference, Waters said there were a number of "reasonably and acceptably tense exchanges," as he expected. "It's a very divisive issue. If there were no sparks and fireworks I'd be disappointed."

The conference also brought together seven different departments of I.U., including the university's Russian and East European Institute and Center for West European Studies, which cosponsored the event with the law school.

The school's Multi-Disciplinary Venture Fund; the Office of the Vice-President for International Affairs; the journalism school; international studies; departments of anthropology, history, and Slavic languages and literatures; Indiana Democracy Consortium; and Columbia University's Harriman Institute of the School of International and Public Affairs also participated.

The sessions throughout the conference focused on specific papers written and critiqued by participants.

The first session included a paper by Marko Prelec, a research officer with the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY from 1999 to 2005. He was the senior researcher on the Milosevic trial from 2002 through 2004. From 2005 to 2007 he was head of the investigation and analysis section within the Special Department for War Crimes at the Bosnian State Prosecutor's Office.

Prelec's paper was from the prosecution's standpoint. When addressing other panelists, points he made included how important the court is to not only remove leaders but their legacy, and how things might appear to be different looking back at the case since the first indictments were filed more than 10 years ago.

In response to his paper, other panelists suggested he consider how the adversarial nature of the court played a part in the prosecution's case, including how they wanted to use the case to make history and define what had been going on in the former Yugoslavia while Milosevic was in power.

As one panelist said, it's the prosecutors' job to present the best possible case for their side, which could involve the way facts were stated, even if they possibly overstated the truth. That panelist also asked if the prosecution had considered that now that the case is over whether it would make sense to go back over the briefs and revise them accordingly to get a better look at the facts.

Another paper was from Zdenko Tomanovic, Milosevic's legal advisor. Tomanovic raised the issue of how Milosevic was treated - how his requests for medical attention from a specific doctor were denied, and how the court treated him when he decided to represent himself.

Among his points, Tomanovic said Milosevic was presented 1.3 million pages of documents to look through. However, Milosevic was also told he'd have "sufficient time" to look through the documents for his case, something Tomanovic said was impossible for anyone to do in anyone's lifetime.

Considering the substantial number of documents, Tomanovic asked if the purpose of giving them to Milosevic was to hinder his case.

Based on his paper, other panelists asked if the court was punishing Milosevic for wanting to represent himself; the court allows defendants to represent themselves even if they are from countries where that is not an option.

Panelists also asked if there was a way to streamline the body of evidence for this case to make things more equitable for Milosevic, as opposed to expecting him to read 1.3 million pages.

Tomanovic added the system of the criminal tribunal was inherently unfair to Milosevic because the judges and prosecution were working to prove what they already thought he was guilty of.

"Can anyone be fairly tried for war crimes in the same system as individual crimes and individual responsibilities?" he asked. "Does a rabbit have a chance to persuade a hunter he has a right to live?"

Prelec added it didn't help Milosevic's case that he looked like a caricature of what the prosecutors wanted to make him out to be.

Another panelist added Milosevic might have had a cultural misunderstanding of what the court was supposed to represent - that the defense focused on the accused's perception of himself and not necessarily the charges at hand.

Other sessions included discussions on papers about the role of the media and the public's perception of the former Yugoslavia; what might have happened in the 40 hours of the trial that remained after Milosevic's death; had the ICTY achieved the goals it had at its onset; and how had the Milosevic case affected similar cases involving other ICTY defendants such as Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Charles Taylor of Liberia, who recently wrapped up his testimony at The Hague.

Waters said the next step will be for the panelists to use the criticism from others to work on revisions. Participants will continue the discussions remotely until final drafts are compiled. At that point, Indiana University Press will publish the papers into a comprehensive book about what happened and what could have happened.

For more information about the symposium and the speakers, visit the Web site: http://www.law.indiana.edu/milosevic/.

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

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