Goldstone Played Fast & Loose with Evidence and Due Process of Law in His Yugoslav Adventure
Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools
In their effort to provide credibility for Richard Goldstone and his deeply prejudicial and simplistic "report" on Gaza warfare, his defenders cite his supposed sterling international reputation, as --among other things-- the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [ICTY] at the Hague. However, Goldstone is not universally admired for his exertions as prosecutor of that war crimes tribunal. We will show here some of the criticisms of his doings there and will review, or fisk, a report by an investigating committee of the ICTY prosecutor's office [OTP] which was ostensibly meant to inquire whether NATO should be prosecuted before the Tribunal for killing civilians and for attacking civilian sites in Serbia. The committee recommended NOT prosecuting NATO [Surprise, surprise!!] for war crimes during that 1999 war. Goldstone, as might be expected, defended the decision not to prosecute NATO --or even to investigate it more extensively.
To be sure, Goldstone's critics in regard to Bosnia, Yugoslavia, and Kossovo are likely to be partisans. But then the Western governments in NATO and the Western media were partisan over Yugoslavia. They were not mere impartial observers. Be that as it may, it is curious how some of the same faults on Goldstone's part that were noticed in regard to his doings in Bosnia, et al., are now noted in regard to the report of his guilt-decided-in-advance "fact-finding mission" to Gaza.
Here is a critique of Goldstone's Bosnian/Yugoslav endeavors by Prof. Kosta Cavoski posted on the Emperor's Clothes blog on November 8, 2000, nine years ago, so it was obviously not written in response to the 2009 Goldstone Report on Gaza. The critique concerns the indictment of two high Bosnian Serb officers captured by Bosnian Muslim forces. Bear in mind that all three parties to the civil war in Bosnia committed massacres and extra-judicial executions. However, the Bosnian Muslim side enjoyed the support of Western govts and media against the Serbs.
Due to the critique's length, we will reproduce only critical mentions of Goldstone which are quoted here below [links to this critique are found above and below].
The Prosecutor's Gullibility and RashnessProf. Cavoski goes on to make further criticisms of Goldstone's performance but we will not bring them in here for the sake of brevity. Those interested can go to Cavoski's critique at the link.
. . . international actors in Bosnia were biased towards one side if not indifferent. What was surprising, however, was the tendency of the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague, and especially its prosecutor Richard Goldstone, to incorrectly apply and breach the very rules that it had instituted. From November 1993 when eleven judges were appointed and the Tribunal began to work, up to 30 January 1996 (two years and two months later), the Prosecutor's office carefully collected all available data related to war crimes on the territory of former Yugoslavia, in particular in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During this time absolutely no-one marked General Djordje Djukic and Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic as suspected war criminals, even though all sides, including the Muslim authorities in Sarajevo assisted in the collection of data and the compilation of a list of suspects. This fact should have prescribed at the very least restraint and great caution on the part of Prosecutor Richard Goldstone . . . the ambitious Richard Goldstone decided on 7 February to instigate proceedings against General Djordje Djukic and Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic, thereby validating the lawlessness of the Muslims and their alleged suspicion of the two for being war criminals. He then sent his experts to Sarajevo to investigate this long awaited case.
During talks with CSCE representatives in Vienna, Goldstone clearly stated that proof against Djukic and Krsmanovic "was serious enough to call for an investigation"(1). Hence Christian Chartier, spokesman of The Hague Tribunal announced that Goldstone "had concluded that there were adequate grounds to take the Bosnian charges seriously and carry out an investigation into the possible guilt of the suspects for acts under the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal"(2).
. . . at the request of Prosecutor Richard Goldstone, General Djordje Djukic and Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic were transferred to the International Tribunal prison in The Hague as suspects. This implied that in accordance with Rule 2 of the Tribunal "the Prosecutor possesses reliable information which tends to show that they may have committed a crime over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction". It is hardly necessary to say that the most important component of this sentence is the reliability of the information regarding alleged crimes committed by the suspects.
The Prosecutor's Violation of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence
To his great regret, Richard Goldstone very quickly realized that the information he had received from Sarajevo was not at all reliable, and that the thirty or so officials sent to The Hague by the US Ministry of Justice at its own expense had not discovered anything of importance in the meantime. Only then did he realize that at the very beginning of the case he had made an unforgivable mistake and seriously violated the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
--end of quotes from Cavoski -read more at link--
Now, in a related Yugoslav matter, after Goldstone was succeeded as chief prosecutor of the ICTY by Louise Arbour, an official report was issued by a committee of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a UN affiliate. The Tribunal [ICTY] set up a committee that was supposed to investigate the NATO attack on Serbia for killings of Kossovo Albanians, killings that actually began only after the start of the NATO attack. The report is called Final Report to the Prosecutor by the Committee Established to Review the NATO Bombing Campaign Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Prosecutor refers to the prosecutor of the Tribunal. Here is how the legal issues involved in the NATO attack on the Serbian TV & Radio station are described. No rush to judgment here about war crimes or deliberate killing of civilians. Goldstone too defended the recommendations of this committee.
Note the attention and space given in the above report to NATO justifications for bombing the Serbian Radio/TV station in Belgrade. On the other hand, Goldstone and his report belittled and denied without serious consideration Israel's reasons for hitting targets such as mosques known to be storage places for weapons and explosives. In the end the investigating committee recommended against prosecuting NATO and its officers for war crimes, violations of international humanitarian law, and the like. The Committee declared that it
71. On 23 April 1999, at 0220, NATO intentionally bombed the central studio of the RTS (state-owned) broadcasting corporation at 1 Aberdareva Street in the centre of Belgrade. The missiles hit the entrance area, which caved in at the place where the Aberdareva Street building was connected to the Takovska Street building. While there is some doubt over exact casualty figures, between 10 and 17 people are estimated to have been killed.
72. The bombing of the TV studio was part of a planned attack aimed at disrupting and degrading the C3 (Command, Control and Communications) network. In co-ordinated attacks, on the same night, radio relay buildings and towers were hit along with electrical power transformer stations. At a press conference on 27 April 1999, NATO officials justified this attack in terms of the dual military and civilian use to which the FRY [= Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] communication system was routinely put, describing this as a
"very hardened and redundant command and control communications system [which …] uses commercial telephone, […] military cable, […] fibre optic cable, […] high frequency radio communication, […] microwave communication and everything can be interconnected. There are literally dozens, more than 100 radio relay sites around the country, and […] everything is wired in through dual use. Most of the commercial system serves the military and the military system can be put to use for the commercial system […]."
Accordingly, NATO stressed the dual-use to which such communications systems were put, describing civilian television as "heavily dependent on the military command and control system and military traffic is also routed through the civilian system" (press conference of 27 April, ibid).
73. At an earlier press conference on 23 April 1999, NATO officials reported that the TV building also housed a large multi-purpose communications satellite antenna dish, and that "radio relay control buildings and towers were targeted in the ongoing campaign to degrade the FRY’s command, control and communications network". In a communication of 17 April 1999 to Amnesty International, NATO claimed that the RTS facilities were being used "as radio relay stations and transmitters to support the activities of the FRY military and special police forces, and therefore they represent legitimate military targets" (Amnesty International Report, NATO/Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: Violations of the Laws of War by NATO during Operation Allied Force, June 2000, p. 42). [see the Final Report . . . here]
has tended to assume that the NATO and NATO countries’ press statements are generally reliable and that explanations have been honestly given. . .Here we note that NATO is assumed to have been truthful by the investigating committee. Israel was denied that credibility.
there is simply no evidence of the necessary crime base for charges of genocide or crimes against humanity [on the part of NATO or its officials] . . .So the committee found no basis for charging "genocide or crimes against humanity" on NATO's part. Conversely, Goldstone and his gang were eager to find Israel guilty of such crimes.
NATO has admitted that mistakes did occur during the bombing campaign; errors of judgment may also have occurred. . .This last statement accepts NATO's claim to have been acting in good faith, although "mistakes did occur." Again, Goldstone did not give Israel such benefit of the doubt. But the investigating committee essentially exonerated NATO and its officials.
. . . the committee is of the opinion that neither an in-depth investigation related to the bombing campaign as a whole nor investigations related to specific incidents are justified. . . On the basis of information available, the committee recommends that no investigation be commenced by the OTP [= Office of the Prosecutor] in relation to the NATO bombing campaign or incidents occurring during the campaign. [see Final Report here]Goldstone was in a debate over the Kossovo war against Serbia some time after the war and he defended the failure to prosecute NATO officials. He said that:
"there was not sufficient evidence against individuals to warrant further investigation" [see Herman & Peterson quoted below]We see that regarding Yugoslavia, Goldstone takes a whole different attitude. He is deferential toward NATO officials, whereas he is dismissive and contemptuous towards Israelis. But NATO was paying his salary, directly or indirectly. Here Goldstone is put into the Yugoslav war crimes picture although he was at that time the previous prosecutor of the Tribunal. Louis Arbour was his successor as head of the OTP, Office of the Prosecutor:
In the indictment of Milosevic, Arbour used evidence about events that took place only six weeks earlier from a war zone, provided by an interested party (NATO), unverified by Tribunal personnel, and in conflict with her claim that she would never proceed on the basis of “uncorroborated” evidence. But neither she nor Del Ponte [Arbour's successor] could even "open an investigation" into NATO’s conduct during the war, after a year, with overwhelming evidence in the public domain pertaining to NATO actions that had killed many more than the numbers presented in the initial indictment of Milosevic (May 22, 1999). That indictment and the charge of "crimes against humanity" were based on an alleged 385 killings for which Milosevic is said to have borne “command responsibility;” but the OTP Report found that the 500 deaths attributable to NATO’s actions were too few to rate--"there is simply no evidence of the necessary crime base for charges of genocide or crimes against humanity." (49) (It should also be noted that the first chief prosecutor of the ICTY, the sainted Richard Goldstone, vigorously defended the Tribunal’s handling of the NATO charges in a debate with John Laughland, saying that the Tribunal simply “held that there was not sufficient evidence against individuals to warrant further investigation,” when as we have indicated there was no serious initial investigation and the 500 deaths conceded by the OTP exceeded the total charged to Milosevic.) (50) [links both here & here]A picture of petty louche people, demi-mondains, assigned to deal with very big issues. Not a pretty picture but one of hypocrisy, immorality hiding behind lofty statements and ideals, and moral corruption. Don't forget that in Bosnia and Kossovo the noble victims featured by the Western media were Muslims. Likewise in Gaza. Meanwhile, the designated villains were non-Muslims, Serbs in Bosnia and Kossovo and Jews/Israelis in Gaza.
[Prof Edward Herman, emeritus, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, & David Peterson. Herman is a notorious "leftist."]
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See comparison of Goldstone's forgiving attitude toward NATO forces with his animosity to Israel [here].
Our previous post on the Goldstone Report is here.
More on Goldstone in Yugoslavia here.
See the all important "Goldstone Report" website [here]
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Amnesty International, the British-guided sister of the American agency "Human Rights Watch," has implicitly rejected Goldstone's position on war crimes committed by NATO when it attacked civilian targets in Serbia during the 1999 Kossovo War.
Associated Press, 23 April 2009Amnesty was not criticizing any ICTY or NATO official by name. Surely today they would not criticize Goldstone for denying NATO war crimes in Serbia, since they support his dishonest Goldstone Report on Gaza. Since Amnesty is British-guided, it most likely did not seriously seek to prosecute any British officials in NATO. This statement may have been meant as a cover to give some credibility to their earlier denunciations of Israel for alleged attacks on civilian sites in Gaza. They had issued an attack on Israel about a month before the April statement quoted by the AP. This earlier attack on Israel over Gaza had been signed by, among others -- Richard Goldstone, as they proudly declared.
An international human rights group demanded Thursday that NATO be held accountable for civilian casualties in the bombing of Serbia's state television headquarters a decade ago, calling the attack a "war crime."Sixteen civilians were killed and 16 others injured during the attack on April 23, 1999, on the headquarters and studios of Radio Television Serbia in central Belgrade.
Amnesty International called on NATO and its member states to ensure independent investigations, full accountability and redress for victims and their families.
A NATO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with standing regulations, said the U.N.'s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had already assessed those allegations and found the alliance had no case to answer. [This official is referring to the report --quoted above-- of the ICTY investigating committee that Goldstone endorsed.].
. . . ."The bombing of the headquarters of Serbian state radio and television was a deliberate attack on a civilian object and as such constitutes a war crime," Sian Jones, Amnesty International's Balkans expert, said in a statement. "Even if NATO genuinely believed RTS was a legitimate target, the attack was disproportionate and hence a war crime," Jones said. [ABC News 4-23-2009; Jerusalem Post (paper edition), 4-24-2009 -- source was AP].
Don't hold your breath waiting for the UN human rights council, security council or general assembly to take up the issue of NATO war crimes in Serbia. If they cross NATO, who is going to pay the UN's bills??