Watercooler – War Crimes Prosecutions Proceed in Serbia, Nine Indicted

The New York Times reports that Serbia’s Special War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office indicted nine men in relation to the killings of 43 ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo conflict.

The killings took place in May 1999; the accused were detained in March this year, 11 years after the murders.

It’s not clear why it’s taken so long, but the NYT suggests a motive for Serbia to proceed with the prosecutions:

The move appeared to be a sign of Serbian resolve to deal with its wartime past and burnish its effort to join the European Union. A crucial condition for Serbia’s membership is that it prosecute atrocities committed by Serbs during the 1990s wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
[…]
The indictment emerged days after Serbia endorsed a compromise United Nations resolution on Kosovo, dropping earlier demands to reopen talks on the status of its former province, in a shift of position toward the European Union.

It’s rather sad that economic and political status may have been the only leverage which worked on Serbia to bring about these indictments.

This late effort at prosecution brings to mind historian Charles Beard’s second law of history: "…the mills of the gods grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly fine."

One can only hope that the mills of the gods will also find a way to grind out justice for other war criminals whose names have been household words in America, slow though justice may be.

What do you think? Will the mills of the gods ever grind finely enough for the victims of the Kosovo conflict? What of the victims of Iraq and Afghanistan — will there be indictments in 12 years or less?

[Photo: Victims of conflict in Kosovo (source: gregor.schlatte via Flickr)]

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