Milosevic Exoneration: Radio Free Europe's Clumsy Attempt at Damage Control

Gordana Knezevic, director of RFE/RL's Balkan Service, tries to spin Milosevic exoneration by accusing Neil Clark and Andy Wilcoxson of engaging in "fact-bending journalism." - August 9, 2016
Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Gordana Knezevic of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) attacked me and she attacked Neil Clark for reporting that Slobodan Milosevic has been exonerated by the Karadzic trial chamber at the ICTY for crimes committed during the Bosnian war. According to Ms. Knezevic, the reporting done by Neil Clark and myself was "a perfect example of fact-bending journalism".

Ms. Knezevic argues that "The Trial Chamber did not in fact make any determination of guilt with respect to Milosevic in its verdict against Karadzic. Indeed, Milosevic was not charged or accused in the Karadzic case. The fact that a person is, or is not, found to be part of a joint criminal enterprise in a case in which he is not charged has no impact on the status of his own case or his own criminal responsibility. In short, the trial against Karadzic was against him and him only, and therefore has no impact on the separate case against Slobodan Milosevic."

To bolster her claim she cites correspondence she received from the ICTY, which reads:

"The Trial Chamber of the Karadzic case found, at paragraph 3460, page 1303, of the Trial Judgement, that 'there was no sufficient evidence presented in this case to find that Slobodan Milosevic agreed with the common plan' [to create territories ethnically cleansed of non-Serbs]. The Trial Chamber found earlier in the same paragraph that 'Milosevic provided assistance in the form of personnel, provisions and arms to Bosnian Serbs during the conflict'."

What Ms. Knezevic clearly fails to comprehend is the nature of the charges against Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic. Milosevic and Karadzic were accused of being co-conspirators and together undertaking a joint criminal enterprise to ethnically cleanse Muslims and Croats from Bosnian-Serb territory.

Paragraph 9 of the indictment against Karadzic says: "Radovan KARADZIC participated in an overarching joint criminal enterprise to permanently remove Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat inhabitants from the territories of BiH claimed as Bosnian Serb territory by means which included the commission of [crimes]." And in Paragraph 11 the indictment asserts that "Radovan KARADZIC acted in concert with other members of this criminal enterprise including [...] Slobodan MILOSEVIC".

Conversely, paragraph 6 of the indictment against Milosevic says: "Slobodan MILOSEVIC participated in the joint criminal enterprise [...] The purpose of this joint criminal enterprise was the forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs, principally Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, from large areas of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, through the commission of crimes." And in Paragraph 7, "The individuals participating in this joint criminal enterprise included Slobodan MILOSEVIC, Radovan KARADZIC, [etc ...]".

Because we are talking about the exact same joint criminal enterprise, Ms. Knezevic is not correct when she says, "The fact that a person is, or is not, found to be part of a joint criminal enterprise in a case in which he is not charged has no impact on the status of his own case or his own criminal responsibility."

Although Milosevic wasn't officially "charged" in the Karadzic trial (he had been dead for two years before Karadzic was even arrested), it was the indictment's assertion that Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic undertook the joint criminal enterprise together that prompted the Karadzic chamber to make findings regarding Slobodan Milosevic's culpability. The charges against Milosevic and Karadzic are inexorably linked. The Karadzic indictment accuses Slobodan Milosevic of participating in the very same joint criminal enterprise that he was charged for in his own trial. The Karadzic chamber's determination that there was insufficient evidence to find that Slobodan Milosevic was part of the exact same joint criminal enterprise he was charged for in his own trial impacts his criminal responsibility in a very direct and obvious way, especially considering that the presiding judge in the Karadzic trail was one of the judges who sat on the bench throughout the Milosevic trial.

The Karadzic chamber didn't stop at finding that the evidence against Milosevic was merely "insufficient" either. As I observed in my original article, the judges went beyond that and cited exculpatory evidence showing that he opposed ethnic cleansing and sought a political solution that was fair to the Muslims and the Croats, facts which Ms. Knezevic completely and dishonestly ignores in her argument.

Instead, she launches into an ad hominem attack on Neil Clark, calling him "a leading apologist ... for Serbian war crimes" without presenting one scrap of evidence that he has ever condoned war crimes committed by Serbs or anyone else. Then she tries her hand at amateur psychology saying "He seems to enjoy the notoriety of being contrarian, even if it means proclaiming the innocence of war criminals and mass murderers."

Ms. Knezevic sneers that "Clark and his ilk can continue to imagine an alternate reality" ... then in the very next paragraph she claims that Slobodan Milosevic was the President of Yugoslavia in 1992 (he wasn't the president of Yugoslavia until 1997), which goes to show that the director of RFE/RL’s Balkan Service is a fool who doesn't even know basic facts about the country she's reporting on -- facts like the correct identity of the president.

She links to a bizarre rant against the Ron Paul Institute because she says it helps her "understand the background and motives of Milosevic's apologists abroad".

Then she continues her Sigmund Freud act by claiming that "the dangerous delusions" of the Serbian people "led to the catastrophic wars of the 1990s," before accusing them of being in "denial of war crimes" committed in their name.

As an American, if my taxes weren't paying for RFE/RL to disseminate this nonsense, I'd be laughing at the fools who hired her and pay her salary. Unfortunately, I'm the schmuck whose taxes are paying for this. I look around my country and I see Detroit in shambles, I see a skyrocketing murder rate in Chicago, I see homeless people sleeping on the streets, but instead of fixing that we've got RFE/RL paying a Serbian Uncle Tom to denigrate her own people. I don't know about you, but that doesn't strike me as a particularly useful expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

She says, "If one rather bland, months-old, morsel of legalistic caveat is the prize catch for Clark after trawling through several thousand pages of transcripts of the Karadzic trial, then it is a rather poor one. One is left with the impression that apologists for dictators and deniers of mass crimes continue to excel in the mendacious art of clutching at straws -- in this case, a single straw."

If Ms. Knezevic thinks the exoneration of one of the most vilified men of the 1990s for the most serious crimes he was accused of is just a "bland legalistic caveat" especually when the allegations against him were used to bomb and impose sanctions on his country, then I suppose she's entitled to that opinion, but if she thinks this is the only interesting morsel that's going to come out of the Karadzic proceedings, then she's got another thing coming. If she thinks the Karadzic trial proceedings support her agenda and her version of events with regard to "the causes of the breakup of Yugoslavia, and Serbia's role in the wars," then she will be sorely disappointed if she ever bothers to come down off her high horse long enough to do her job as a journalist and go "trawling through several thousand pages of transcripts of the Karadzic trial" for herself.

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