More than 50 per cent of Serbs believe that war crime defendants Mladic and Karadzic are national heroes, OSCE survey says.
|Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic Photo by Sava Radovanovic|
A survey on attitudes towards the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, and war crime prosecutions in Serbia says that around 50 per cent of population think that Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are not responsible for the war crimes for which they are charged.
According to the survey conducted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, and the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, 70 per cent of Serbians have negative attitudes towards the ICTY.
Survey sample included 1,407 people over the age of 16 who were questioned in face-to-face interviews conducted in September and October 2011.
“This has been one of the most serious surveys related to transitional justice conducted in the whole word,” said Ivan Jovanovic, the Head of the War Crimes Unit at the OSCE Mission to Serbia.
“Based on the results, we concluded that people generally have a negative attitude on these issues, but unfortunately they do not have much information on which they base their opinions,” he added.
Morgijana Breding, representative of the ICTY agrees that there is a lack of media coverage related to war crimes issues and that if there are any, that they are usually biased.
“Journalists are usually covering crimes when the defendant is from their country. For example, during the Gotovina trial there were no journalists from Serbia present,” said Breding adding that the ICTY started its outreach programme quite late.
Dusan Ignjatovic, Director of Serbian Government office for Cooperation with the ICTY, said that the survey shows that the Serbian public is not following enough ICTY trials, but they have a very strong negative opinion on its work.
“It is easier to believe that the ICTY is an anti Serbian court rather than that Serbs committed some serious crimes in the conflicts in 90s,” Ignatovic said.
According to the survey, 40 per cents of Serbs believe that Croats carry the greatest responsibility for the conflicts, followed by Albanians at 17 per cent, while Bosniaks come third with 10 percent.
Bruno Vekaric, Serbian Deputy Prosecutor for War Crimes said that the problem lies in the fact that war crime prosecutions are often politicised.
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