July 22nd 2012 11:31:57 PM
And STILL this is how much Americans know about their intervention in Bosnia:
“…the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, now known as Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
Did you know that the former Yugoslavia is now known as Bosnia-Herzegovina?
Good thing we have Roanoke Times reporter Laurence Hammack to explain that to us. Apparently, not a single of his editors or copy editors saw anything wrong with that sentence either.
Of course, that’s not the main point of the item, which was circulated by 1389 Blog. This guy is:
Roanoke Co. resident faces extradition on war crimes allegations (July 18)
By Laurence Hammack
A former Bosnian prison camp guard now living in Roanoke County was led in handcuffs to a federal courtroom Tuesday, where he was told he faces extradition to his native country on charges of committing war crimes.
Almaz Nezirovic was ordered held without bond during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.
Court papers unsealed late in the day accuse Nezirovic of torturing Serbian civilians who were sent to a prison camp during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, now known as Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The prisoners were beaten with rifles and batons, starved, ordered to crawl naked on the ground and forced to eat grass soaked with urine, a seven-page complaint charges.
“In these and other ways, the Fugitive participated in torturing and inflicting cruel, inhumane and humiliating treatment on multiple prisoners at the Rabic camp,” the complaint states.
Nezirovic — who had been living quietly as a welder and soccer coach in Roanoke County since immigrating to the United States about 15 years ago — appeared stunned and defiant during his hearing.
“I was very surprised,” he told Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou in broken English.
(Of course he was! Since when did Serb-torture become a prosecutable offense?)
Wearing a yellow T-shirt and shorts, his long, dark hair tied back in a ponytail, he turned several times to make eye contact with about a dozen family members and friends sitting in the courtroom.
“We love you,” a woman called out as he was led away.
Although the charges against him were filed in 2003 by authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nezirovic had more recently been facing separate but related federal charges in Roanoke.
In June 2011, he was charged with lying on an application for U.S. citizenship and making a false statement during a naturalization interview. [We know that’s a problem — see father of Trolley Square shooter Sulejman Talovic.]
Federal prosecutors said at the time that Nezirovic, 53, indicated on the applications that he had never committed acts for which he could be charged criminally — such as the alleged abuse of prisoners at the war camp.
After his indictment, Nezirovic was allowed to remain free on bond. He had been living in his Roanoke County home without incident until his arrest Tuesday morning on an extradition warrant.
Notice how when a non-Serb is arrested in a Western country for war crimes, he doesn’t have to sit in jail while the extradition decision runs its course. In contrast, our most recent example is Alex Cvetkovic, whom Israel was mandated by Sarajevo to keep in jail from the tie of his arrest in January 2011. Naturally, Israel complied. (Since when Bosnia says Jump, every country jumps.)
…In 2004, one year after Nezirovic was charged by the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina with war crimes, U.S. officials refused to extradite him, according to his attorney, public defender Fay Spence.
The more recent extradition efforts apparently came after the Bosnia-Herzegovina government presented additional information to the U.S. State Department.
Nezirovic denies the charges, Spence has written in court documents.
The allegations against Nezirovic are politically motivated and stem from lingering tensions between ethnic and religious groups in the war-torn country, Spence maintains.
As we know, any time a non-Serb is wanted for killing or torturing Serbs, the charges are always “politically motivated” or “ethnically motivated.”
During his country’s civil war in the 1990s, Nezirovic was a member of the Croatian Defense Council military force and worked in the Rabic prison camp that held Serb civilians.
As a Bozniak Muslim, Nezirovic wanted no part of the three-way fighting among Serbs, Croatians and Muslims, Spence has written in court documents. But when his homeland of Derventa was invaded by Serb nationalists, Nezirovic said he joined a Croatian paramilitary group as an act of self-defense.
And it’s always “an act of self-defense” because Bosniaks, Croats and Albanians can never seem to remember who insisted on war, and so the Serb side is always by definition the aggressor. Then just put in the requisite word “nationalist” after the word “Serb,” and you definitely won’t get any questions about whether there was anything specific that the Serbs were fighting against.
“At no time did Nezirovic detain or mistreat civilians, nor did he mistreat combatant prisoners at the Rabic camp,” a motion filed on his behalf stated.
Well a couple of witnesses would beg to disagree: Former prisoners receive permission to testify at trial (March 22)
By Laurence Hammack
…U.S. District Court Judge James Turk ruled this week that testimony from the former prisoners can be taken by live video, despite arguments from Almaz Nezirovic’s attorney that such an arrangement would violate his right to a fair trial.
When Nezirovic goes on trial in July, he will argue that the people he is accused of abusing are affiliated with a Bosnian Serb militia group and have political motivations to falsely incriminate him.
And that is why it is so important to hear from them in person, Spence argued in a motion opposing their videoconference testimony,
“Live testimony, i.e. perspiration on the brow or the smell of sweat, cannot be transmitted through cables — no television can replace the ability to pick up on slight body language,” Spence wrote.
“The jury will not hear the witness shift in his chair when asked a difficult question. The jury will not see the subtle indicators bearing on credibility that we all rely upon in making judgments about people in our daily lives.”
Well now there’s something that you haven’t heard in a while if you’ve been following trials not in the U.S. but at The Hague, formed to convict Serbs. There, the Serbs get convicted by witness testimony that doesn’t even get beamed in like this. Sometimes it’s just written down on a piece of paper. This lawyer seems to have a sense of democratic standards in the judicial process, so one wonders if he’d give a darn if he knew what went on at the international court that’s a precursor for the rest of us.
Federal prosecutors say the two witnesses have health problems that would make it difficult for them to travel from Bosnia-Herzegovina to the United States to testify.
In an order this week, Turk rejected the defense argument that video testimony would deny Nezirovic his right to confront witnesses against him, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.
“This right, however, does not guarantee criminal defendants the absolute right to a face-to-face meeting,” Turk wrote. The judge ruled there were legitimate reasons for a videoconference, and that the high-tech process would allow the defense to adequately confront the witnesses.
Since his arrest last June, Nezirovic has remained free on bond at his southwest Roanoke County home, where for the past decade he has lived quietly as a welder and soccer coach.