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by Judith Armatta

  • ISBN: 0822347466
  • Category: Politics
  • Author: Judith Armatta
  • Subcategory: Politics & Government
  • Other formats: txt lit docx mobi
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (July 30, 2010)
  • Pages: 576 pages
  • FB2 size: 1139 kb
  • EPUB size: 1756 kb
  • Rating: 4.4
  • Votes: 328
Download Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milosevic fb2

The front cover photograph pictures Milosevic in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) courtroom with an officer at his side. Armatta sat in the courtroom as the invited guest of the Coalition for International Justice, a Washington DC-based human rights group.

Twilight of Impunity book. The prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague was an important step toward ending impunity for leaders who perpetrate egregious crimes against humanity.

She has a good understanding of events. The trail of Milosevic dragged out a long time and eventually Milosevic died in custody.

Speakers: Judith Armatta, Nina Bang-Jensen, Aryeh Neier. Recorded: September 20, 2010). More from Open Society Foundations Podca. Talking About Race: A Conversation with Beverly Tatum and Sonja Santelisesadded 3 months ago. The Failures and Future of the International Criminal Courtadded 5 months ago.

MORE BY Robert Legvold. January/February 2011.

In ways hardly imaginable in many states, individual views of Miloševic were and are massively varied in Serbia.

An eyewitness account of the first major international war-crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg trials, Twilight of Impunity is a gripping guide to the prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The historic trial of the “Butcher of the Balkans” began in 2002 and ended abruptly with Milosevic’s death in 2006. Judith Armatta, a lawyer who spent three years in the former Yugoslavia during Milosevic’s reign, had a front-row seat at the trial. In Twilight of Impunity she brings the dramatic proceedings to life, explains complex legal issues, and assesses the trial’s implications for victims of the conflicts in the Balkans during the 1990s and international justice more broadly. Armatta acknowledges the trial’s flaws, particularly Milosevic’s grandstanding and attacks on the institutional legitimacy of the International Criminal Tribunal. Yet she argues that the trial provided an indispensable legal and historical narrative of events in the former Yugoslavia and a valuable forum where victims could tell their stories and seek justice. It addressed crucial legal issues, such as the responsibility of commanders for crimes committed by subordinates, and helped to create a framework for conceptualizing and organizing other large-scale international criminal tribunals. The prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague was an important step toward ending impunity for leaders who perpetrate egregious crimes against humanity.
Reviews about Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milosevic (5):
Incredible research. So valuable to have this trial documented in real-time.
The author was a firsthand viewer of the Milosevic war crimes trial. She was involved in human rights in the Balkans for some years before the trial. She has a good understanding of events. The trail of Milosevic dragged out a long time and eventually Milosevic died in custody. The book, as with the trial, added little new understanding to the wars and war crimes of Serbia/Milosevic. But the author is very critical of the trial and those criticisms raise important questions about the whole concept of international tribunals.

The author seems to see the flaws in the proceedings as being that it was a trial and that attempted to follow the norms of law. She takes particular offense at the court for allowing Milosevic to mount a defense. But ultimately, rather than a problem of court procedure, she is raising questions about how these matters should be dealt with.

She doesn't seem to see these trails as being about an actual trial of an individual. Rather, the trial is about creating a legal and historical record of the crimes the individual was involved in. Guilt is established by the indictment. A defense is an unnecessary waste of time. Rules of evidence and procedure simply get in the way of the truth.

Armatta would have seemed to have favored a political show trial. Put him a cage in court, do not allow him to speak, and have the court appoint a lawyer who will decide a defense for him and speak for him on all occasions. The usual reasoning for having a lawyer represent a client in court is that the lawyer will be more effective than the defendent. But in this particular case, the opposite seemed to be true. The author was against him being his own lawyer because he was effective in the role. Not in proving himself innocent of course, but effective in providing political theater equal to that of the prosecution and complicating the simple narrative the prosecution wished to establish. It can't be forgotten that he was a laywer and he proved anything but inept in court.

The book is also flawed in that the author is in no way objective or even open minded. The trial exists not to discover any new information, but to simply confirm what she already thought. All witnesses against Milosevic are beyond any question or doubt. Even when they manipulate the proceedings like Wesley Clark. She also has an annoying habit of the book of going beyond the evidence presented at trial to make her own case against Milosevic which confuses her account of the trial.

The author rightly points to cases where both the Serbian and American governments held back classified material from the court. But fails to understand the complexity of the legal issues involved. In a fair trial, both sides have to have access to all the relivant information. If one says that under international law that Serbia is compelled to hand any document over to the court for inclusion in the public trial record, fairness would require that other countries would have to cooperate to the same degree. But thats not likely to happen. Absent a situation such as Germany in 1945 where the international court has control of the criminal government's archives, its almost impossible to see how this sort of thing will ever work.

In the end, the book is unintentionally raising questions about what the purpose of these courts and trials is to be. There seems to be a conflict between the idea of a court to punish the guilty and a court that is to produce other things. Those other things being (a) a legal/historical archive concerning the crimes in their most broad sense, (b) political theater for the prosecution (c) A forum for victims to confront criminals, (d) framing a historical narrative for the crimes and (e) a forum in which to publically shame a criminal.

The question for international justice is are all those "other things" best accomplished in an adversarial court proceeding?

So it is clear, I have no doubts about the guilt of Milosevic and nothing I've written should be considered a defense. But I disagree with those, like the author, who would have denied him a fair trail.
16-Nov-2012 - an update

With the release of the two leading Croatian War Criminals, it would be more appropriate to say that we have reached the noontide of impunity rather than its twilight. These men have not only got away with ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands, international judges have now legally validated their actions. They have gone home to cheering crowds as the world looks on with indifference. The court really seems now to serve no other purpose than to grant a sham legal cover to the foreign policy decisions of a handful of countries.
I loved this book! From the first pages, I was drawn into this fascinating narrative that reads as much like a courtroom mystery or epic novel as a political history. The author did a fantastic job telling the story of this landmark trial, and its legacy for international justice, while weaving in the back story, the underlying history of the Balkan wars. This is by far the best book I've found for understanding the complex history of Balkan wars and war crimes that rocked the rest of Europe and the world during the 1990's and continues to haunt us today.

While this book may be something of a classic for international legal scholars, human rights activists, and East European history buffs, I am none of these, and found it a great read. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes to stay reasonably informed about major world events, as well as anyone who just like a grand, absorbing story.
This is a well-written and insightful look at Slobodan Milosevic and his place in the history of the Balkans. While it is an academic tome of great value, it is also written in a style that holds the attention of the average reader. In this book, Armatta offers us a front row seat to history in the making. While we know the outcome, the writer engages us from the beginning, not only explaining for the lay person the legal machinations, but giving voice to the victims of the Balkan wars. She also makes clear that, while the trial was not perfect, it served as a groundbreaking precedent in international law and justice. Being the first of its kind, the trial now serves as a lesson from which to learn in future international criminal trials. Perhaps this trial really was the "Twilight of Impunity" for the despots of the world. We can but hope. A must read for anyone hoping to understand the Balkan wars.
I came to read Judith Armatta's book, Twilight of Impunity, out of an interest in the possibilities of international justice and the UN sponsored International Courts. Milosevic was the first major leader of a country to be tried in this venue. Like many Americans, I didn't understand or know much about the tragic wars of the Balkans. Fortunately, Judith Armatta's book easily filled my many historical gaps in a readable, accessible and lucid way.

The trial began in 2002 and ended with Milosevic's death in 2006. The book follows the course of the trial, first exploring the period leading up to the war and then focusing in turn on Kosova, Croatia and finally Bosnia. As documents and witnesses are presented, Armatta provides the corresponding historical context, drawing on both trial information and numerous other sources. Her recounting of the trial organizes the narrative, and also provides a riveting and insightful look at the struggles of this nascent court to contend with the masterful manipulations of Milosevic.

Armatta passionately defends the trial's importance to the victims, arguing that they deserve international recognition of their suffering, documentation of the conflicts, and are entitled to see their oppressors punished. Although this book is certainly scholarly, Armatta's background in law allows her to enhance our understanding with astute legal observations and the entire book has a compelling momentum and intrigue, especially the chapters that discuss the case for genocide and the complications of the "defense" Milosevic mismanages to his own detriment.

As a previously uninformed reader, I can recommend this book to others wanting enlightened, informed, and easily readable access to the history of this war torn area, in the context of a sometimes suspenseful and politically significant trial. Also, this book gives us a sense of both the possibilities and limitations of the Tribunal itself.

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