News 13 Oct 17

War Crimes Trial Documentation Centre Opens in Croatia

The new Transitional Justice Centre in the Croatian town of Pula will display documents, films and photos from cases at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Sven Milekic
Sense Transitional Justice Documentation Centre, pictured before its opening day. Photo: Facebook/Eugen Jakovcic.

Sense Transitional Justice Documentation Centre opens its doors in the Croatian coastal town of Pula on Friday evening, and will showcase facts established during trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY in The Hague.

Mirko Klarin, the founder of the centre and director of Sense Agency, a news agency which followed the trials at the ICTY, told BIRN that it will house an archive with media reports on the ICTY cases it documented for over 20 years.

“We made a selection of things we wanted to keep; the things we thought could also be used for creating interactive narratives, documentaries, educational films and so on,” Klarin said.

“The essence of this centre is to show the crimes which were investigated, prosecuted and adjudicated by the Tribunal, and also which are the facts that were established beyond reasonable doubt,” he explained.

Klarin, who decided to open the centre in his hometown of Pula, where he also had the support of the local administration, said that its priority is to show how the Tribunal reconstructed the events of the Yugoslav wars.

“It’s less important if someone in particular is found guilty or not of something because even in all the acquittal verdicts you have confirmation that certain things, stated in the indictments, happened in a certain way,” he said.

He argued that facts established at the ICTY are “little known to the general public in the whole region, which is interested if someone is innocent or guilty, while it pays little attention to these ‘tiny’ details such as established facts, and testimonies of victims and witnesses”.

Serge Brammertz, prosecutor at the ICTY and its successor, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, MICT, will officially open the centre on Friday evening.

Brammertz and Klarin will speak at the opening ceremony, along with an expert in cultural heritage protection, Helen Walasek, and the head of the Zagreb-based NGO Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past, Vesna Terselic.

Representatives of the state attorney and prosecution offices from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia will also come to the opening ceremony.

An exhibition entitled ‘Monuments at Gunpoint’, showing the destruction of cultural, historical and religious heritage during the 1990s wars through documentation gathered at the ICTY, will go on display the same evening.

On Saturday, Brammertz will also be a panel at a conference on the destruction of cultural heritage, post-war reconstruction and trust building at the new centre.

The conference is organised by Sense, Documenta, NGO Humanitarian Law Centre Belgrade, History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo and a Paris-based network of NGOs active in preserving cultural heritage, Europa Nostra.

On Thursday, Brammertz met Croatian Justice Minister Drazen Bosnjakovic and chief state attorney Dinko Cvitan in Zagreb, discussing Croatia’s cooperation with the ICTY and MICT, its prosecution of war crimes and its cooperation with the judiciaries in the region.

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