The International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was a unique experiment in the history of justice. For the first time, war criminals from all sides of a conflict were tried by an independent and international court. In more than 20 years, the ICTY sentenced 160 persons – from Milošević and Mladić to ordinary men the war had turned into criminals – and exposed the Srebrenica genocide. Yet, its legacy is controversial. Today, the people of ex-Yugoslavia are nowhere close to reconciliation, and the idea of international justice seems utopian.
Now, 30 years after the Yugoslav Wars broke out, we trace the story and impact of the ICTY with testimonies of prosecutors, defendants and victims, and with full access to the Tribunal’s monumental archive. Did the ICTY succeed? Can it be a model for bringing justice to the victims of the wars of the future?
Among the protagonists are survivors of mass executions in Srebrenica and Kosovo, the prosecutors of Slobodan Milošević and Ratko Mladić, as well as two perpetrators: Esad Landžo, a prison camp guard, sentenced for torture and murder, and Biljana Plavšić, former President of the Republika Srpska and the only woman convicted by the Tribunal. While Landžo now recognizes his mistakes, Plavšić – a Serb nationalist who was Karadzic’s deputy during the war – admits in the film to have pleaded guilty only to get a milder sentence, as she considers the Tribunal “a farce “.
In this 2-part documentary, director Lucio Mollica sheds light on the many obstacles faced by the Tribunal in its quest for justice and examines the impact of the trials on the region and on the people involved. While the verdicts did not bring reconciliation to everyone, they established the truth on the first European genocide since World War II in the eyes of many and the principle that war crimes must not remain unpunished. A lesson worth debating,
Bettina Offermann | email@example.com
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