- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001

War-crimes tribunal plays favorites … but for whom?

In "Standards of trial," (Op-Ed, Jan. 31), Janusz Bugajski brought to light the three standards for prosecution in the war-crimes process in the Balkans.

He notes quite correctly that the Serbs, who committed most of the war crimes, are held to the most lenient and flexible standard because it suits the hypocritical exigencies of power politics. In the case of Serbia, 10 years of mass murder and genocide in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo seem to be merely inconvenient facts for the tribunal, not important enough to keep it from fully restoring Belgrade's ability to repay Yugoslavia's long-standing debts to major international banks.

As Mr. Bugajski notes, Croatia, on the other hand, is held to a very strict standard for war-crimes prosecution because it committed very few war crimes and has been fully cooperative with the tribunal. In fact, the tribunal has failed to investigate most of the thousands of incidents of mass murder, rape and genocide perpetrated by the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia, yet it has left no stone unturned to try to prove that Croatians have wronged the Serbs.

The tribunal seems to be particularly keen on demonstrating that the Pentagon's approval and support of Croatia's Operation Storm, which led to the Dayton accords, was somehow a criminal act. Perhaps someone should ask why the U.S. taxpayer continues to pay most of the bills for a European court that seems intent on falsely accusing the U.S. military of complicity in war crimes.

FRANK BROZOVICH

President

Croatian American Association

Seattle

Janusz Bugajski is unhappy with The Hague war-crimes tribunal, claiming that it is inclined to tarnish the whole of the Croatian nation and military for war crimes committed by a minority of Croatian soldiers ("Standards on trial," Op-Ed, Jan. 31). Mr. Bugajski acknowledges that high-ranking political figures condoned the killings in pursuit of ethnically pure territories, and yet, presumably, he is happy that the late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman escaped indictment.

He seems to ignore the murderous expulsion of the Krajina Serbs in 1995 from their supposedly "U.N.-protected" ancestral lands within internationally recognized Croatia. Worse still, the initial period of occupation by the American-trained Croatian military was marked by the well-documented random murders of several hundred elderly Krajina Serbs who had stayed behind, as well as the wholesale destruction of abandoned dwellings. These events were not surprising, given that Mr. Tudjman was consistently unrepentant about the World War II genocide of Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia at the hands of the Nazi-puppet Croatian Ustasha regime. Mr. Tudjman went on to gloat publicly over the departure of the Krajina Serbs and prevented their return. Mr. Tudjman's guilt is unquestionable. If ever there was an open and shut case with a clear chain of command, this was it.

Perverse as it may seem, the only person indicted in connection with the clearance of the Krajina Serb nation is Milan Martic, the victims' leader. His crime was to order a retaliatory rocket attack on Zagreb, resulting in seven fatalities.

There also is the expulsion of most of Kosovo's Serbs, Roma and other non-Albanians. This war crime took place under the noses of the United Nations' occupying Kosovo implementation force troops. Where are the indictments?

Two wrongs don't make a right, but the tribunal, with its bias against the Serbs, lends itself to the charge that it is more of a political instrument than a judicial body. Croatians should count themselves lucky.

ARIANA BEATTY

London

Bush denies free speech to overseas family-planning groups

In your Feb. 2 editorial "Still engaged," you had every right to defend Bush administration policies, but the newspaper's credibility nose-dives when you claim that President Bush's "first order of business was to stop U.S. taxpayers from having to fund abortion overseas." The 1973 Helms amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act halted such funding, and there is no evidence that it has been violated in the past 28 years.

What Mr. Bush did was sign an executive order that denies freedom of speech to family-planning organizations overseas in desperate need of U.S. assistance. Mr. Bush's order prohibits funding these organizations if they even mention abortion to their clients. The president couldn't get away with such an outrage in the United States because it clearly would violate the First Amendment of the Constitution. The action leaves no doubt that the Bush administration believes freedom of speech ends at our shores bizarre for a White House that claims to support democratization.

WERNER FORNOS

President

Population Institute

Washington

Columnist displays sour grapes over Ravens' Superbowl victory

I have great respect for The Washington Times' sports columnist Dick Heller. However, this time, he went way out of bounds ("Here's why some of us can't quite rave about the Ravens," Feb. 2).

When are the news media's self-anointed, self-righteous critics of morality in sports going to face the fact that the Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl champions because they are talented, play hard, beat nearly everyone this season and truly earned their championship trophy? Permit me to respond directly to some of Mr. Heller's points.

Mr. Heller complains that the Ravens don't belong in Baltimore and that Ravens owner Art Modell was wrong to move them from Cleveland. However, Baltimore tried for years to get an expansion franchise. The NFL repeatedly snubbed and misled the city. What was Baltimore to do? Mr. Modell gave Cleveland every opportunity to keep the team, and Cleveland blew it. He moved the team because he was offered something tangible from Baltimore when Cleveland offered nothing. Mr. Modell is not the bad guy. If you are looking for a scapegoat for the Browns' move to Baltimore, look no further than the Cleveland city government, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and former Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.

Mr. Heller goes on to say that he cannot celebrate the Ravens' victory because of the double murder charge against linebacker Ray Lewis. The murder charges against Lewis were dropped, and his two co-defendants later were acquitted. That doesn't excuse Lewis' conduct or his ill-advised association with the wrong people. It doesn't bring back two dead young men who, according to court testimony, were as much to blame for the incident as anyone. Nor does it ease the pain for their families. But how long will the news media continue to try this case? At what point will Ray Lewis have finished paying for a crime Atlanta prosecutors were forced to recognize he didn't commit?

Finally, comparing Lewis' situation to that of Rae Carruth is as unfair as slandering Baltimore, the state of Maryland and the Ravens organization with a veiled association to drinking and driving, setting cars on fire and the events following the Maryland-Duke game at Cole Field House. How many low blows can Mr. Heller possibly deliver in one article?

The Ravens are the Super Bowl champions, and though Mr. Heller and the rest of Washington, for that matter may not like it, it's time for everyone to get over it.

STEVE BASSETT

Ellicott City, Md.

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