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Bosnia, Serbia and NATO: Winners can and must be judged

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Romanov) - If international law were put on trial, I am not sure it would be acquitted. Well, it might be, but only by reason of insanity.

It is beyond the powers of an ordinary person to understand why international law includes both the right of nations to self-determination and the principle of the inviolability of borders. That contradiction has brought suffering to millions, both those who try to use the law to gain independence, and those who invoke the law to prevent them from doing so.

I do not think international law will win many hearts and minds on the issue of justice because the "might is right" principle still rules in courts. Victors are never judged in international courts of law, while losers are sent to prison or to the hangman without much ado or discussions with their attorneys.

Contemporary international tribunals, which were modeled after the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi criminals after WWII, have lost the moral battle even when trying such shady characters as Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic or Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Both men outwitted the prosecution. The only difference between them was that Milosevic died before the court could give its verdict, while Hussein was hanged to the jeers of his executioners. The latter event displeased even the victors - the Americans - because it brought to mind the Dark Ages.

International law, seemingly shaken by the massacre of Kosovo Albanians, has done its best to cover up the facts about the slaughter of Kosovo Serbs by Albanians. It has very little information, most of which is distorted anyway, about the current situation in Kosovo, where drug trafficking has become a fact of life.

Likewise, while fervently denouncing the crimes of Saddam Hussein, international law has not clamped down on the Americans, who began the Iraq operation in gross violation of the UN Charter, and have since killed thousands of innocent civilians and intend to continue doing so.

This brings me to the recent trial of Serbia in a suit initiated by Bosnia 12 years ago. It was a trial of a defendant twice dead: Yugoslavia perished in 2003, and its legal successor, Serbia and Montenegro, fell apart last year.

In particular, the court discussed the massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica. The international tribunal operating under the UN banner tried to please both sides by recognizing the fact of the massacre without granting Bosnia's request to find Serbia guilty of genocide and demand that they pay compensation to the victims, allegedly because it did not find proof of the claim that the massacre had been approved by the political leadership of the former Yugoslavia, or Serbia and Montenegro, or Serbia.

Judging Serbia for actions taken by a country that has disappeared from the political map may be legal from the viewpoint of international law, but it is completely absurd from the viewpoint of common sense. It is like judging modern Germany for the actions of East Germany, although even that would be more logical than the trial of Serbia. After all, East Germany has joined West Germany to form a united Germany, while Yugoslavia has fallen apart.

According to information provided to the court, the killers calmly walked to Srebrenica across an area controlled by peacekeepers from the Netherlands, whose mission was to prevent such crimes. However, the court did not question the actions of the peacekeepers, while the Dutch authorities rewarded them with military decorations.

And lastly, why is international law clawing at Serbia but disregarding the barbarous bombing of innocent civilians in Yugoslavia, in the heart of Europe? Do you think that is an open-and-shut case? Just look up which bombs were used and against whom, and who was killed and maimed, and what environmental damage was done to Yugoslavia and neighboring countries, as well as to the Danube River, the international water artery of Europe.

Do European politicians lose sleep over violations of international law committed by the West? True, European parliamentarians kicked up a fuss about the CIA's "flying prisons" and tortures permitted on the territory of some EU countries. They also discussed the apparent illegality of the Guantanamo prison. But has all this talk made any difference?

There are many examples of the selective deafness of international law. Rather than strengthening the international legal field, this inconsistency has riddled it with mines and undermined the world's trust.

Is there a way out of this situation? Maybe we should remember and act on the old maxim, "Winners can and must be judged."

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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