Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bribing war criminals to surrender

I wonder what this:

Karadzic's wife appeals to her husband to surrender
PALE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The wife of fugitive Radovan Karadzic appealed Thursday to her husband to surrender to the U.N. war crimes tribunal "for the sake of your family."

Has to do with this:

In the Balkans, war crime pays. This year, a record 20 accused war criminals have been turned over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague, compared with only three in 2004. But NATO troops didn't nab these fugitives in daring dawn raids. Negotiators did much of the work, offering generous financial incentives. "Everybody here in Serbia believes the government gives big money to indictees," says Natasa Kandic, head of the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade. "If you want to go to The Hague, you'll be rewarded and your family will have a very good life."

Some of the incentives are legally mandated. Serbia passed legislation last year to provide pensions to its indicted war criminals. The law gives indictees a full salary, plus unspecified "compensation" for family and legal expenses. In the Republic of Srpska, the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia, benefits are even more generous: a full salary to the indictee himself, a double salary paid to his family, plus 80 euros a month to each of his school-age children. (A typical Bosnian Serbian salary is only 200 euros a month.) Family members also get four expense-paid trips a year to The Hague to visit indicted loved ones. And last year Srpska added a cash bonus of 25,000 euros for anyone who surrenders.

Still more generous inducements are offered to the really big fish. According to Serbian media reports, Gen. Vujadin Popovic got a bonus of $1 million when he turned himself on April 14. Popovic was the commander of the Drina Corps in Bosnia, which conducted some of the worst ethnic-cleansing campaigns in the region. Serbian government officials have told human-rights activists that Gen. Ratko Mladic, the accused architect of the Srebrenica massacre, was offered $5 million to turn himself in, although in the end he decided to stay on the run. (The U.S. government still has a $5 million reward for his capture.)

I'd guess Karadzic would be entertaining similar offers. The article cites various reasons for this egregious policy: Serbia wants into the EU and must expedite the process; there is residual support for these criminals, etc. But buying surrenders and confessions undercuts the whole purpose of the war crimes tribunal, doesn't it?