Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Two [17]

UNDUE PROCESS [continued]

Johnstone considers the cases of five ICTY defendants and indictees who died either in captivity at The Hague, shortly after incarceration, or were killed during capture.

1) Simo Drljaca: Police chief at Prijedor, helped set up Omarska and Keratem camps. Johnstone does not believe that these camps carried out the work of ethnic cleansing, so the charges against him have no merit in her book. Earlier, she had written that "prisoners are always at the mercy of guards" by way of acknowledging that human rights abuses occured at the prison; however, she does not acknowledge that Drljaca, as a chief official, might bear some responsibility. He was killed during capture by British troops while trying to escape.

2) Dragan Gagovic: Police chief in Foca, charged with raping a woman in a detention center. Also shot during arrest by French troops. Johnstone notes that "Local residents were furious that SFOR had chosen to arrest the karate coach in circumstances that endangered the lives of children." He was a karate instructor driving some young students home.

3) Djordje Dujukic: Bosnian Serb general nabbed by Bosnian Army forces and turned over to The Hague for questioning; released three months later. Died of untreated cancer.

4) Slavko Dokmanovic: Mayor of Vukovarg; indicted for complicity in the abduction and murder of 250 soldiers from a hospital. Johnstone notes "Defense witness testified he was elsewhere at the time of the Vukovar hospital massacre" which is not much of a defense. She drily notes that an acquittal was expected, but that on June 29, 1998 he "was found hanged in his cell."

Note: He "was found hanged in his cell," not "He hung himself." The sinister--and completely unfounded--implication is clear.

5) Milan Kovacevic: Dirctor of Prijedor hospital, member of "Crisis Group" responsible for operation of prison camps. Arrested in 1997 after war was over. He had health problems, and died in captivity from a stroke and heart attack although he had been ruled fit to stand trial.


So, what are we to make of her case studies, which in her mind paint a clear picture of...what exactly? Let Ms. Johnstone explain:

"These deaths are the most dramatic indication of the lack of concern for the rights or even the lives of the defendants that prevails at the Hague Tribunal."

Well, if these are the "most dramatic" cases she could find, then she's got a pretty weak case. The first two deaths, to put things in perspective, involved indicted war criminals resising arrest by highly trained special forces troops. The third case is unfortunate, but people do die of cancer from time to time; there is no reason to suspect that ICTY officials had a diagnosis they chose to ignore. The forth case involves suicide. Which leaves us with the fifth case, which might indicate some negligence if the story that fellow prisioners calls for help were ignored; subsequent inquiry contradicts this accusation. So we have a man in his late 50s, from a country where smoking is nearly universal, as is the consumption of strong drink and large quantaties of pork, under a great deal of stress, dying of natural causes.

Johnstone's outrage at the unjust treatment of war criminals is bottomless; she expects them to be treated with kid gloves during arrest, for example:

"The methods of arrest are so spectacular as to convey the impression that the suspect is a wild beast who must be grabbed with all the delicacy of hounds tearing apart a wild boar."

No, I'm not making that up--the same woman who demands a cooly rational, detached treatment of refugee rape victims manages to apply this hysterical burst of hyperbole to describe the arrest of indicted war criminals, in Serb-majority areas. Even though two out of the five of her own examples attempted to resist arrest she fails to grasp this. I suppose she would prefer that the ICTY wait for indicted criminals to turn themselves in; perhaps she wishes all cases were like that of Karadzic and Mladic?

I suspect she does.


Shaina said...

Thanks Kirk for your overview of the cases.
Like you said earlier, I shudder to think what went through Johnstone's mind when S.Milosevic died.

Good job pointing to her hypocripsy: rape victims are subjected to relentless interegation and scrutiny; while alleged war criminals should be handled delicately with kid gloves (or if Johnstone probably had her way, not handled at all, and be allowed to live freely).

Owen said...

I wouldn't be quite so harsh about Johnstone's use of the phrase "was found hanged in his cell". That's a standard expression that not unreasonably avoids having to say anything about the question of suicide until there is evidence.

It is legitimate for Johnstone to discuss the issue. But her comments are those of defence counsel, not those of an objective observer. Like Shaina I find it pretty unpleasant to see the treatment Johnstone gives to the narratives of rape victims compared to the allegations of supporters of individuals charged with war crimes.

Kirk Johnson said...

I would agree with you Owen, if this book hadn't been written four years after the fact. She does not elaborate or add any information to what would be, as you point out, an appropriate preliminary description.

I should have been more precise in my language, I suppose--it's not that she used a standard expression, it is that she leaves it at that, although in the hours and months and years since his body was found, suicide has been established as the cause of death.

Duly noted, however--when I get around to revising this text into something like a book form (I'm thinking of rewriting my "Fools' Crusade" entries into something more cohesive and making them availalbe as a Word file to anyone who wants it) I will reconsider my choice of words.

Owen said...

You're absolutely right, Kirk, she's had plenty of time to exercise her judgment.

Sorry, what was that I just said?

I'm glad to hear you're going to pull it all together. I look forward to seeing the file posted at!

Shaina said...

Kirk, glad you are going to put your entire analysis together in a Word Document. I think it would be very convenient for everyone.