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At UN, Brammertz Blames All Bosnia for Foca Prison Break, Rwandan Responses

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 7 -- When prosecutor Serge Brammertz spoke Wednesday at the UN, far fewer journalists covered him than when he was with the Special Tribunal on Lebanon. At this this point, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is not perceives as being as newsy.

  But Brammertz in his statement to the Security Council said of Bosnia - Herzogovina that "the case of Radovan Stankovic is symptomatic of broader problems... He escaped from prison in Foca more than four years ago, yet very little has been done to return him to custody. We struggle to understand why the authorities in Bosnia and Herzogovina appear unconcerned."

  Balkan sources point out that just as Bosnia has a three way presidency that at times paralyzes its decision making on such matters as Palestine's application to join the UN, it is also divided ethnically on the ground. "Consider where Foca is," a source said rhetorically. "So why did Brammertz condemn the country as a whole?"

  This split in Bosnia has led, for example, to trips to Banja Luca by Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, and a little noticed letter from the Serbian third of the government attacking a statement given in the Security Council. So Council members know about the split: why did Brammertz ignore it?

(Note: Council members may know of the split in Bosnia; French Deputy Permanent Representative also put in his testimony a reference to the jail break from Foca. But he did not blame Bosnia as a whole.)

   When Brammertz emerged from the Council, Inner City Press asked him. Brammertz said that Stankowitz probably shouldn't have been sent to a prison in Foca, that it may have been "easy" for him to escape.

   Croatia's Permanent Representative spoke late and criticized and "refused" Brammertz statement that Croatian officials "glorify illegal war-time conduct and question the impartiality of the ICTY's judgements." Questioning is allowed, isn't it?

   Inner City Press asked Brammertz. He said that for a prime minister at a political rally to greet a person convicted, and for people to question the qualificiations of particular ICTY staffers is not acceptable. 

  Asked by a Serbian journalist about Serbia joining the EU, he said the Tribunal's preconditions have been met; "if there are other" preconditions, that's another issue. He declined to speak about Kosovo.

  Regarding Rwanda, Inner City Press on December 6 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky

Inner City Press: there was a Rwandan journalist, Charles Ingabire, who was killed in Kampala about a week ago, and there are many human rights groups saying that it should be investigated. Some people feel that it has to do with things that he was writing about his native country, is the UN aware of this case, do they join this call that it should be investigated? I know that generally there is a line that journalists should be free to do their work, but this is a particular case that seems to be raising a lot of issues in the Great Lakes region, and I wonder if you have a comment on it.

(c) UN Photo
Brammertz and Jallow, Foca and
Charles Ingabire not shown

Spokesperson Nesirky: I’d have to check. But certainly the point that you made is absolutely right. Journalists do need to be able to carry out their work without fear of persecution of whatever kind. That’s obviously an underlying principle. I obviously will check with UNESCO and others to see if they have anything further on that.

  More than 24 hours later, Nesirky had not provided any comment. Meanwhile two diplomats entering the Security Council to listen to the Rwanda Tribunal statements, when asked by Inner City Press about the case, said that Charles Ingabire "was hardly known before he was killed, just Google him" and even suggested that government opponents might have done it.

 That's adding insult to... murder. Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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