The President of Serbia announced today that his government had captured accused war criminal Ratko Mladic, former head of the Bosnian Serb Army, and would transfer him to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague for trial. Judith Armatta, author of Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milosevic, has written this guest post about the significance of the arrest:
The arrest of Ratko Mladic demonstrates how far the world community has moved from providing warlords and tyrants with golden parachutes. The arrest of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarek and the indictment of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi provide further evidence of the degree to which accountability for crimes by the powerful has taken root. Mubarek will stand trial in Egypt before an Egyptian court. Gaddafi has been indicted by the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, an indictment that must be confirmed by a trial chamber of the ICC before an arrest can be made, which at this point is not imminent as Gaddafi remains in power.
International war crimes trials are far more complex than domestic criminal trials. As a result, they take longer. Show trials such as Josef Stalin favored are speedy but do not bring justice. The public’s and especially victims’ frustration with lengthy trials is understandable, and trials need not drag on for over four years as the Milosevic trial did, ultimately robbing victims of a verdict. Milosevic was an ill man when he came to The Hague. His illness combined with the tribunal allowing him to represent himself were largely responsible for the trial’s length. One hopes that international courts have learned from these mistakes. With Mladic’s arrest they have another chance to get it right.
Judith Armatta is available for interviews. Please contact Publicist Laura Sell at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.