War Crimes: Nuremberg and Sarajevo

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War Crimes: Nuremberg and Sarajevo

By Hasan Zillur Rahim

The Nuremburg trials, lasting from November 1945 to October 1946, established crimes against humanity--exterminations, deportations, and genocide--as war crimes. By those criteria, the world has known all along that Serbs have been guilty of war crimes in the three-year-old conflict in Bosnia. Until recently, however, "official" acknowledgment of any kind was lacking. This has now changed.

On Feb. 13 of this year, the United Nations Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands, issued indictments charging 21 Serbs, including commanders and guards of concentration camps, with war crimes. More indictments are expected against those involved in the mass murder, torture and rape of Bosnian Muslims and Croats.

One of those indicted was the commander of the notorious Omarska camp in northern Bosnia. Zeljko Meakic was charged with genocide for his role in the "ethnic cleansing" of Serb-held regions of Bosnia.

Of the 21, however, so far only one is in custody. Dusan Tadic is being held in Germany awaiting extradition to the Hague. Tadic has been charged with "the collection and mistreatment, including killing and rape, of civilians within and outside the Omarska camp." The rest presumably remain in Serb-held Bosnia, where Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has vowed not to surrender any of them for an international trial. One reason for his defiance is that Karadzic himself may soon be indicted.

Because some U.N. officials hold out slim hope that the accused will ever be brought to trial, critics of the tribunal deride its indictments as "feel-good" measures. …