“Bombshell at the Tribunal



A private letter of Judge Frederik Harhoff in which he expresses his concern over the ‘change in the Tribunal’s course under the pressure of the military establishment of some influential countries’. According to the letter, the ICTY President Theodor Meron has succumbed to this pressure

How do we now explain to the 1000s of victims that the court is no longer able to convict the participants of the joint criminal enterprise, unless the judges can justify that the participants in their common goal actively and with direct intent contributed to the crimes? Until now, we have convicted these participants who in one way or another had showed that they agreed with the common goal (= to eradicate the non Serbian population from areas the Serbians had deemed “clean”) as well as, in one way or another, had contributed to achieving the common goal without having to specifically prove that they had a direct intention to commit every s ingle crime to achieve it, It is almost impossible to prove.

And I always thought that was right. I have delivered my judgements in trust that t hose at the top could see that the plan to “eradicatethe others” from “own” areas contradicted the basic order of life, a challenge of right or wrong, and not l east in a world where internationalisation and globalisation rejects any notion of someone’s “natural right” to live in certain areas without the presence of others. Seventy years ag o we called it Lebensraum. However, apparently this is no longer the case.

The latest judgements here have brought me before a deep professional and moral dilemma, not previously faced. The worst of it is the suspicion that some of my colleagues have been behind a short sighted political pressure that completely changes the premises of my work in my service to w isdom and the law.