Viewing cable 07SARAJEVO2073
Title: BOSNIA - INITIAL MEETING OF WAR CRIMES RECOVERY

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07SARAJEVO20732007-09-28 16:43:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Sarajevo
VZCZCXRO1306
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHVJ #2073/01 2711643
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 281643Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO
TO RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0456
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 0434
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7138
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUFOAOA/USNIC SARAJEVO
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SARAJEVO 002073 
 
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SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE(STINCOMB) AND S/WCI(LAVINE); 
BELGRADE PLEASE PASS TO OPDAT PODGORICA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PHUM ICTY KAWC KJUS MCRM BK
SUBJECT: BOSNIA - INITIAL MEETING OF WAR CRIMES RECOVERY 
WORKING GROUP DISAPPOINTS 
 
REF: A. SARAJEVO 1547 
     ¶B. SARAJEVO 1403 
     ¶C. SARAJEVO 1212 
     ¶D. SARAJEVO 1068 
 
Classified By: Michael J. Murphy.  Reason 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The National Strategy for War Crimes Recovery 
Working Group met for the first time on September 19.  The 
Working Group was established by the Ministry of Justice 
(MoJ) in the wake of the February International Court Justice 
(ICJ) verdict that genocide took place in and around 
Srebrenica.  It was tasked with drafting an 
intra-governmental strategy for dealing with the effects of 
war crimes committed in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 conflict. 
 The strategy is to include a comprehensive set of measures, 
both judicial and non-judicial, that would facilitate justice 
and reconciliation.  If adopted and implemented, it would 
diffuse the corrosive impact war crimes issues have on 
Bosnian politics and society.  Unfortunately, the Working 
Group's inaugural session was disappointing.  Leaders of 
Bosnian judicial institutions failed to focus on the task at 
hand.  The participation of internationals seconded to the 
State Court offers was a bright spot, however.  The secondees 
have produced a concept paper that they hope will guide 
future discussions.  If the secondees' efforts to shape the 
strategy are backed by the international community, it could 
produce a much-needed national approach to war crimes 
recovery. END SUMMARY 
 
Background 
---------- 
 
¶2. (C) The ICJ's February verdict that genocide took place in 
an around Srebrenica in July 1995 sparked a serious political 
crisis over the status of Srebrenica Municipality within the 
Republika Srpska (RS).  The crisis refocused Bosnian and 
international community attention on war crimes issues.  As 
part of our efforts to address the verdict's political 
fallout, we pressed Chief Prosecutor Marinko Jurcevic to 
develop and implement guidelines that would assist his office 
in prioritizing and selecting war crimes cases for 
investigation and prosecution.  Jurcevic initially resisted, 
claiming that he could not do so until the Bosnian government 
had first established a national war crimes strategy (i.e., 
one that dealt with judicial and non-judicial issues 
associated with justice and reconciliation).  The Office of 
the High Representative (OHR) and the international community 
supported Jurcevic's proposal, but made clear it was a 
supplement to, not a substitute for, prosecution guidelines. 
After several months, the Chief Prosecutor is close to 
finalizing prosecution guidelines and the Working Group on 
War Crimes Recovery is beginning its work. 
 
Jurcevic: Poorly Prepared 
------------------------- 
 
¶3. (C) On September 19, the National Strategy for War Crimes 
Recovery Working Group convened for the first time. 
Participants included the State Chief Prosecutor Jurcevic, 
State Court President Meddzida Kreso, Head of the High 
Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) Branko Peric, 
Prosecutor's Office Deputy Registrar Toby Cadman as well as 
various other lower level officials.  Representatives from 
OHR, OSCE, UNDP, and the U.S. Embassy also attended.  The 
MoJ, which created the body and reportedly organized the 
meeting, failed to send a representative.  Despite the 
group's mandate to develop a broad strategy for dealing with 
the effects of war crimes and crimes against humanity, 
Jurcevic and the MoJ failed to invite representatives from 
civil society, including representatives from victims groups, 
educators, or cultural and religious leaders. (Comment: Civil 
society participation is especially important when discussing 
issues such as alternatives to criminal prosecution and 
education. End Comment) 
 
¶4. (C) In addition to failing to bring together the 
appropriate participants, the initial meeting was 
disorganized and poorly prepared.  Jurcevic arrived with no 
agenda, materials for discussion, or data for working group 
members.  Jurcevic also failed to compensate for the lack of 
preparation by providing any structured direction to the 
 
SARAJEVO 00002073  002 OF 003 
 
 
meeting.  In his opening remarks, Jurcevic asked for 
participants' views about war crimes issues and claimed that 
he would not impose his own solutions on the group.  He 
referred to the political situation several times, noting the 
need for consensus and political support for a National 
Strategy for War Crimes Recovery and suggesting that the 
group should seek Council of Ministers' approval for its 
report.  In what some interpreted as a transparent effort to 
reduce his office's political exposure and workload, Jurcevic 
proposed that the Prosecutor's Office should handle a reduced 
number of war crimes cases and that an additional state 
institution should be created to handle the rest. 
 
Peric: Strategy Needed 
---------------------- 
 
¶5. (C) Jurcevic's opening remarks had the effect of narrowly 
focusing discussion on the question of management of the 
large war crimes caseload rather than on broader questions 
associated with managing war crimes recovery.  Peric accepted 
that the State Prosecutor could not possibly resolve all of 
the war crimes cases and called for a prosecution strategy to 
determine the most serious cases for immediate disposition. 
(Note: In other words, Peric called for precisely the type of 
prosecution guidelines that the Chief Prosecutor's Office is 
already working on, which were not supposed to be the subject 
of the recovery working group. End Note) Peric underscored 
that time is running out, as both witnesses and perpetrators 
are dying.  He also emphasized the importance of informing 
the public about what is realistically possible regarding 
justice and war crimes cases. Peric agreed with Jurcevic that 
a National Strategy for War Crimes Recovery must be discussed 
at the political level and reviewed by Parliament. 
 
Kreso: Frustration Over Numbers 
------------------------------- 
 
¶6. (C) Judge Kreso expressed concern about the State Court's 
limited resources.  She was openly critical of the poor 
planning for the working group as well as the Chief 
Prosecutor's failure to develop war crimes prosecution 
guidelines and to compile statistics on war crimes 
investigations and case files.  This lack of data, Kreso 
said, undermines the Court's efforts to develop a strategy 
for managing cases. (Note: Jurcevic regularly claims that 
there are more than 12,000 potential war crimes cases, but 
the Chief Prosecutor's Office has made no attempt to compile 
an inventory of cases.  Most independent observers, including 
international prosecutors seconded to the State Court, 
believe the potential case load, though large and probably 
unmanageable given the Court's current resources, is much 
smaller. End Note) 
 
Cadman: Wake-Up Call 
-------------------- 
 
¶7. (C) After initial interventions by Bosnian judicial 
officials, Cadman sought to focus discussion on the Working 
Group's broader mandate.  Cadman stated bluntly that there 
was no way to process the large number of war crimes cases 
and that the Prosecutor's Office must determine which cases 
to try and which to refer to entity courts.  He added that 
the overall goal of the group must be a national strategy 
that balances restorative and retributive justice.  This 
involved more than ensuring that the criminal justice system 
played its proper role on war crimes (and was structured to 
do so).  It could include, inter alia, exploring alternatives 
to criminal prosecution, incorporating war crimes issues into 
school curricula, providing adequate support to the victims 
of war crimes as well as to witnesses in war crimes trials, 
and establishing a national War Crimes Documentation Center 
or a Center for the Study of Post-Conflict Recovery.  Cadman 
promised to provide the working group with a concept paper 
containing these and other ideas, which they could then use 
to frame their future discussions. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶8. (C) As expected, the inaugural meeting of the Working 
Group accomplished nothing substantive.  Jurcevic was poorly 
prepared, and Jurcevic's Bosnian colleagues preferred to 
 
SARAJEVO 00002073  003 OF 003 
 
 
focus their interventions on telling him how the Office of 
the Prosecutor could better do its job.  The tensions among 
Jurcevic, Kreso, and Peric could derail efforts to draft a 
National Strategy for War Crimes Recovery.  Nevertheless, all 
is not lost.  There was consensus that Bosnia faces a serious 
problem regarding war crimes management and a national 
strategy is necessary to address it.  While Jurcevic is not 
likely to drive its development, his staff, particularly the 
international secondees, appear to have a keen understanding 
of what a strategy must contain and what must be done to 
secure it.  With the active support of the international 
community, the Working Group could produce the much needed 
national approach. 
CEFKIN