November 29, 2017

"Praljak is not a criminal. I reject your verdict. I just drank poison. I am not a war criminal. I oppose this conviction."

Said the former Bosnian Croat general, Slobodan Praljak, pausing, after "I reject your verdict," to drink from a small brown bottle. The scene was a UN tribunal in The Hague. Praljak had just heard that his 20-year sentence for war crimes had been upheld.

Praljak died, The Guardian reports. What were the facts of the crime?
Praljak was charged with ordering the destruction of Mostar’s 16th-century bridge in November 1993, which judges in the first trial had said “caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population.”... In their ruling, the judges allowed part of Praljak’s appeal, saying the bridge had been a legitimate military target during the conflict. They also overturned some of his convictions, but refused to reduce his overall sentence....
Here is a photograph showing the bridge as it looked in 1974:



The bridge was rebuilt in 2004 to look like this:



Both photos are from the Wikipedia article, "Stari Most."

31 comments:

buwaya said...

A novel that explains better than most histories -

Ivo Andric, "The Bridge on the Drina"

Nonapod said...

I'm unaware of the bridges history, but 16th century doesn't seem that old for something in Eurasia. Is it the type of structure that would've qualified for a World Heritage Site or something?

mockturtle said...

He does bear a slight resemblance to Socrates.

eric said...

I still remember what we did in the 90s. They were slaughtering Muslims (I believe they were Catholic?) And Clinton went in and helped put a stop to it.

And yet I'm always hearing that we caused terrorism because of how poorly we treat Muslims.

rhhardin said...

The possibility of suicide proves man's freedom.

See Blanchot _The Space of Literature_

The Drill SGT said...

"“caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population.”...

So a court in a majority Muslim country creates this as a war crime?

Bridges have ALWAYS been legitimate military targets, even when full of people, which this wasnt

Big Mike said...

@Nonapod, when I visited Mostar in the early 70's (as a grad student traipsing around Europe in the summer) I was told that the bridge was the oldest in continuous use in Europe. Tito was still the strongman holding the different countries -- Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Slovenia together in Yugoslavia. I though blood would flow when he died, but not as much.

Bay Area Guy said...

A UN tribunal at the Hague just sounds bad. Not defending Kojak or whatever his name is, but I would want no part of any UN tribunal at the Hague.

William said...

I read somewhere that only three people involved in the Khmer Rouge slaughters were ever brought to trial. One of them died of natural causes while awaiting trial. I don't know about the other two. I don't remember ever reading about any war criminals in Rwanda being brought to justice. The trck with genocide is to murder the right people. Mao's face still flies above Tiannamen Square.

Comanche Voter said...

Hermann Goering cheated the executioners after the Nuremberg trials--by drinking poison.

This general was 72--a 20 year prison sentence was essentially a life in prison sentence. He chose not to go there. Still it was a rather dramatic stage--the courtroom where the sentence was affirmed. He could have done it the jihadi way--wear a suicide vest in the courtroom.


People who are true believers can be a problem.

Rob said...

When I visited Bosnia in 1989, I learned that the bridge in Sarajevo on which Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated, starting World War I, was named after the assassin. If that's not effed up, I don't know what is.

Sharc 65 said...

"You won't have Praljak to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference."

FullMoon said...

Phew! Thought it was Pat Sajak for a second.

Gordon said...

Bridges are always legitimate military targets. Even if they're pretty, historic bridges.

Ray said...

He was Croatian.

jimbino said...

The rebuilt bridge appears asymmetrical at its peak.

mikee said...

Rob, try reading Rebecca West's "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" to understand that it was perfectly normal for a person in Sarajevo in 1915, seeing an Austrian Archduke, to kill that Austrian Archduke. That Ferdinand died that day is a classic tale of a powerful person doing idiotic things leading to his own death.

mikee said...

And damn my typing. 1914!

mockturtle said...

Rob, try reading Rebecca West's "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" to understand that it was perfectly normal for a person in Sarajevo in 1915, seeing an Austrian Archduke, to kill that Austrian Archduke. That Ferdinand died that day is a classic tale of a powerful person doing idiotic things leading to his own death.

Thanks, mikee! Just ordered it.

Char Char Binks said...

Bombing a bridge is a war crime? It seems any act of war against Hillary's UCK buddies was a war crime, but aggression by Muslims against Serbs and Croats was A-Okay. This is a lot like how the American left's violence is free speech and anyone else's free speech is violence. Hell, even silence is violence, because it rhymes!

Robert said...

Yes, yes, a bridge is a legitimate target for those with barbaric ancient ethnic resentments.

Fuck Praljak and fuck anyone else who thinks this way.

Char Char Binks said...

Robert, why not just call any act of war, offensive or defensive, a war crime? Then the victors will just prosecute any survivors from the losing side. What better way to end ancient ethnic resentments?

Notice that Praljak admitted to knowingly drinking poison. He rejected the illegal court proceeding against him, and good for him. He could have pretended not to know, to let suspicion fall on his enemies, but he had honor.

JaimeRoberto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaimeRoberto said...

Mostar is an interesting place. Much of the area around the bridge is still rubble, though at some point it's hard to tell if it is 20 year old rubble or 200 year old rubble. Lots of pockmarked buildings and UN peacekeepers around too. There's a huge cross up on the hill overlooking the town, which I'm guessing was put there as a big middle finger to the Muslims and/or Orthodox Serbs. Elsewhere downriver there are freshly built mosques adjacent to Croat war memorials. The tensions still appear to be just below the surface.

The two things I told myself I wouldn't do when I took my family on vacation in Croatia were: 1) don't go looking for landmines in Bosnia and 2) don't go to any of the major flash points. So what did I do when we went into Bosnia? I went for a hike and then drove down to Mostar.

Robert said...

What better way to end ancient ethnic resentments?

It seemed to work pretty well against the Nazis -- unless, of course, you believe that prosecuting them for war crimes was wrong because it’s unfair that history is written by the winners and not the losers.

Oso Negro said...

It was a bridge! In time of war! By the standard the court is using, most modern architects could be liable to imprisonment for crimes inflicted on native populations.

Robert said...

It was a bridge! In time of war!

He chose poorly.

veni vidi vici said...

Drinking a bottle of poison at your verdict hearing: Starri Least.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Oso Negro said...
It was a bridge! In time of war! By the standard the court is using, most modern architects could be liable to imprisonment for crimes inflicted on native populations.
11/29/17, 4:21 PM
Robert said...
It was a bridge! In time of war!

He chose poorly.
11/29/17, 5:28 PM


Does no one remember the

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grdelica_train_bombing

?

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mockturtle said...

BL asks: Does no one remember the

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grdelica_train_bombing


Hiroshima and Nagasaki lost some infrastructure, too.