A Cockeyed Prosecution

The prosecution case against Slobodan Milosevic meandered along for more than 3 years.

Initially the focus was on the Kosovo war, apparently because the team believed this would provide plenty of evidence to convict the accused. But as the months and years went by it became ever clearer that  the case was gossamer thin, dependent on testimony  of little substance.

In desperation, new indictments were raised against Milosevic for his alleged role in the Bosnian and Croatian wars.  Once again, the claims made about him in ICTY proceedings – even with the many constraints placed on Milosevic by the presiding judge – were significantly undermined by the defence.

When Slobodan Milosevic died in custody in 2006, some 3 months into the defence case, it was clear to many that the prosecution had, by some distance, failed to make a compelling case.  The sense of failure was heightened by a  late prosecution attempt to tip the balance before Milosevic died (when – inexplicably – they were granted leave to interrupt the defence case to show a video of alleged executions to the court).  This was soon shown to be a clumsy fake.

A 2-part BBC Storyville documentary, broadcast in 2007, featured lead prosecutor Geoffrey Nice musing  on the case.  Nice spoke at length about the difficulty of knowing how many anonymous witnesses he should call to convince the court of Milosevic’s guilt.  He also advanced the bizarre theory that the court had a ‘duty’ to the victims to present a full picture of their suffering.