News 04 Dec 12

Serbian Minister Joins Student Anti-Hague Rally

Justice Minister joins Serbian students and far-right groups at Belgrade protest on Tuesday against two recent ICTY rulings releasing Ante Gotovina and Ramush Haradinaj.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade
Photo by Balkan Insight

Around a thousand students gathered in front of the Serbian parliament on Tuesday to voice discontent with two recent ICTY rulings acquitting Croatian and Kosovo ex-commanders of war crimes.

Banners read “We demand justice”, “No border between Kosovo and Serbia”, “Everybody is innocent - until it is proven they are Serbs” and “Hague Tribunal = Joint Criminal Enterprise”.

“We want parliament to adopt a special resolution that will condemn the ICTY rulings. And we also want to show support to the UN debate that will be held in April,” Nenad Uzelac, one of the organizers of the protest, said.

Photo by Balkan Insight

His colleague from Belgrade University, Dragana Markovic, said the aim of the rally was “to show that young people in Serbia are not satisfied with the verdicts, as they are a great injustice towards Serbia and Serbian victims [of the former Yugoslav wars of the 1990s].”

Beside students, members of some far-right organizations, such as “Nasi” and “1389”, also joined the protest.

To the sound of the Serbian national anthem they set for parliament, where the gathered crowd sung patriotic songs and shouted “Kosovo is Serbia”, “Ratko Mladic” and “Tadic Ustasha”. [Boris Tadic was Serbia's former president. The Ustasha was a WW2 Fascist movement in Croatia.]

They were joined by the Minister of Justice, Nikola Selakovic, who said that he had come to support the students, as it was clear that the ICTY did not stand for justice.

“We should not forget that 96.8 per cent of those convicted before ICTY are Serbs,” Selakovic said.

“Their aim was to force Serbia to face the fact that only Serbs were responsible for the wars of the 1990s,” he added, concerning the Hague judges.

Photo by Balkan Insight

Among the speakers were professors from Belgrade University and refugee associations who urged the authorities to do more to protect Serbs who were serving sentences or who were defendants in trials before the ICTY.

Branko Rakic, a Belgrade law professor, said that the tribunal was “created to rewrite Balkan history and represents an insult to all courts”.

He said that students should not fear international threats to curtail Serbia's visa-free regime with the EU unless Serbia cooperates with the ICTY, adding that Serbia was on the side of “dignity and truth”.

Savo Strbac, from the association of Serbian refugees from Croatia, said Serbian victims of the wars should continue their fight for justice despite the injustice of the ICTY verdicts.

On the other side, the Liberal Democratic Party said the Justice Minister should resign, as he had “abused a student gathering together with extremist organisations.

“He has abused his position, disrupted peace in the country and put himself at the head of protests in which extremist groups were present,” Cedomir Jovanovic, leader of the party, said.

In two separate rulings In November, the ICTY acquitted two Croatian Generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, the former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and two other former Kosovo Liberation Army commander. All were charged with war crimes allegedly committed in the 1990s. The verdicts caused widespread anger in Serbia.

 Photo by Beta

 

Photo by Beta

 

 Photo by Beta

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Background

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