News 08 Nov 12

Croatia Discusses Hague Tribunal Legacy

One more in a series of conferences organised by the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, in order to examine its legacy was held in the Croatian capital Zagreb on Thursday.

Dragana Erjavec

In his opening speech at the Zagreb conference, the vice-president of the Hague Tribunal, Carmel Agius, said that the ICTY has changed the way responsibility for war crimes is perceived, which should enable the countries in the region to face their war past more easily.

“Twenty years ago when the ICTY was founded, no one could have imagined all the defendants would really be facing justice. That, however, did happen and today, when this court is nearing the end of its mandate, all of you in the region are left to resume our path and finish resolving all the issues of the past,” said Agius.

The Vice President of Croatia’s Supreme Court, Ana Garacic, said that Croatia recently amended its laws so that it could use evidence from the Hague Tribunal.

“That is why I see the ICTY’s legacy as something very important for further process of facing the past, just like for the processes that are being tried before the Croatian judiciary. I believe that the access to the Hague’s archive would enable us to expedite the cases which still haven not been processed by the domestic judiciary,” said Judge Garacic.

Around 100 people, mainly representatives of the Croatian judiciary and victims’ associations, attended the Zagreb conference, however only two media from Croatia covered the conference.

A journalist from Osijek, Drago Hedl, said that the mainstream media ignores the work of the Hague Tribunal.

“Even if you hear what is happening in the Hague, it is mostly information about the accused, and they almost always suppress facts about what was really proven by the court, the new facts that we learnt by following the trials,” said Hedl, adding that the Croatian media, which obey their politicians, never showed any interest in what was happening in the Hague.

“We must understand that there will always be those who deny the work of the Hague Tribunal, and it is a problem if the state top is denying crimes. That is what is happening in Croatia right now and it could be our problem in the future,” assessed Hedl.

Since it was founded in 1992, the Hague Tribunal indicted 161 people and the trials against 35 are still ongoing. Almost two billion dollars have been spent on its work.

The conferences on the ICTY legacy have been held so far in the Hague and Sarajevo and by the end of the month one would be held in Belgrade.

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