The Guardian ran two reports on the 25th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica to the Bosnian Serbs on 11 July 1995. Both reports deplored the fact that, after all these years, doubts about the truth of the Srebrenica story were apparently growing. The first report, “Genocide denials gain ground 25 years after the Srebrenica massacre” (https://bit.ly/2OjCVb9) appeared on Friday 10 July; the second, “Survivors mark 25th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre” (https://bit.ly/38UWfFk) was published on the anniversary itself, Saturday 11 July.
Both reports repudiate the questioning of the established narrative of Srebrenica, asserting that what happened has been fully established by the Hague Tribunal, the war crimes court set up by the UN Security Council (The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia or ICTY).
This is far from being the case. The UN had no power under its Charter to set up this Tribunal so the court was illegal throughout its 24-year existence. The Security Council was well aware of this when it voted to approve its creation, but did not have the courage to vote down the US-sponsored proposal. To compound this, once created the ICTY ignored every single one of the limitations on its power set down by the Security Council and Secretary-General. In particular, having been instructed to enforce only existing international law, the ICTY drew up a Statute which gave it power to make new law. One of the new laws it created, Joint Criminal Enterprise, was used to secure all the major genocide convictions handed down by the illegal court.
As to Srebrenica, the Guardian suggests that the ICTY had established an irrefutable case the a genocide had taken place. In reality, the ICTY did not manage to present substantive evidence to support any part of its case.
Forensic and DNA evidence was crucial to the claim that at least 6,800 Bosnian Muslim men and boys had died at Srebrenica. But none of this information was ever made available to the Hague Tribunal or the defence teams of Serbian defendants. Laws were passed in Bosnia in 1998 and Croatia in 2002, giving the agency carrying out this work for the ICTY, the International Commission for `Missing Persons (ICMP), complete immunity to ignore any request or subpoena to hand over this information. The so-called forensic and DNA was therefore merely provide to the court as a verbal account of the ICMP’s conclusions. Inexplicably, the ICTY chose to regard this as proven fact when it was clearly far from being that.
Intercept evidence was another key pillar of the ICTY narrative. Transcripts of military communications between Bosnian Serb commanders had allegedly been intercepted by Bosnian Muslim radio operators and were used to present a detailed picture of Bosnian Serb genocidal intentions. But very few recordings were available to corroborate the transcripts – most had apparently been destroyed. Since there can be no guarantee of the integrity of a transcript unsupported by physical evidence, transcripts without original recordings have no evidential value and would not be admitted by a genuine court of justice.
ICTY prosecutors spent a great deal of court time presenting evidence from alleged eyewitnesses to atrocity. In the Milosevic trial, more than a hundred such witnesses gave testimony. The lead prosecutor, Geoffrey Nice, claimed that it was his duty to provide the victims with ample opportunity to describe their sufferings. This was actually no part of the formal duty of a prosecutor which is to put before the court all the factual evidence to support the charges laid against defendants, but was of course useful in securing media headlines around the world. As the vast majority of eyewitnesses gave evidence anonymously by remote link, defence lawyers were at an acute disadvantage when it came to cross- examination: with no information about the identity of the witnesses, there were few if any checks they could make, and those in the courtroom had no means of judging the demeanour and credibility of the witnesses – many of whom, observers agreed, showed evident signs that their testimony had been heavily coached. On top of this, virtually all this evidence was entirely uncorroborated because these witnesses invariably claimed that they had lived to tell their stories by playing dead.
ICTY trials, therefore, were not intent on uncovering the truth of what happened. They were for the most part an extremely long and tedious process designed to create the impression that a detailed and compelling case had been presented. This enabled the judges to reach guilty verdicts against Serbian defendants and hand down endless sentences to them. But even to do this, they frequently had to re-write their original indictments because they could not support them with evidence, and create new laws, such as Joint Criminal Enterprise, which required the support of minimal evidence and could be applied retrospectively to periods when no such ‘crime’ had existed.
Sadly, the Guardian and many other media organisations seem to know nothing of all this. John Laughland’s 2007 book, “Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of International Justice” laid bare the fraudulent nature of the ICTY. Even earlier in 2002 Diana Johnstone had written her seminal analysis on the background to the Balkan conflicts. Both books were studiously ignored by the media, though they were well aware of them. They refused to consider the possibility that they could have been wrong about Yugoslavia in much the same way as they now often call for those who ask awkward questions to be ‘cancelled’ (such as Peter Handke) for daring to doubt their infallibility.