Flavin's Corner

Death, Do Not Party...

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
from Holy Sonnets X by John Donne, 1618.

     Serbian paramilitary commander, escaped bank-robber, and war profiteer,
Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic*, under indictment by the International War Crimes
Tribunal for mass murders committed in Bosnia and Croatia between 1991 and
1995, was shot and killed last Saturday in the lobby of a Belgrade hotel.  The
slaying of Raznatovic should be a cause to celebrate, but few can see fit to toast
his passing.  He was never brought to justice for his crimes against humanity and
the only ones who will immediately benefit from his death are the members of
the Serbian underworld who are probably responsible for his killing.  Death, do
not party, because of this small victory.  It's far from over...
* A Dutch article contains the parenthetical addition roofkat (or scab) to "Arkan."  This may
be a direct translation or simply how the Dutch regard him.

     The horrific atrocities committed by Serbs against Muslims (the euphemistic
"ethnic Albanians") in Bosnia and Croatia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union,
slowly prompted a response from the United Nations, but not soon enough to
stop much unnecessary tragedy.  And, to further insult the murdered, several
months before Gorbachev stepped down, the Serbs published their plans to
"expel without delay all 360 thousand Albanian emigrants and their descendants"
and restore a free Serb state which would include "Serb Macedonia, the Serb
Montenegro, the Serb Bosnia, the Serb Herzegovina, the Serb Dubrovnik, the
Serb Dalmatia, the Serb Lika, the Serb Kordun, the Serb Banija, the Serb
Slavonia, and the Serb Baranja."  The plans for genocide where well known and,
like the ugliness of the Holocaust, the rest of the world took its sweet time
responding.  Raznatovic, leading his private band of thugs called the "Tigers,"
joined other radical Serb nationalists in a three-year killing spree.  Bosnia and
Croatia will never be the same...

Raznatovic and stuffed tiger.

     Empowered with evidence of wholesale slaughter, the International War
Crimes Tribunal in The Hague issued many indictments in 1995.  A pathetic lack
of sufficient capacity prevented the Tribunal from arresting many of the accused
(a sad situation which still exists).  Eventually, a Bosnian-Serb cafe-owner and
traffic-cop, Dusko Tadic, was brought to trial (the first such procedure since the
end of World War II and the "Nuremberg Trials") on various (read: abominable
and disgusting) charges.  He ended up getting off with a twenty year sentence
with a possibility of parole after ten.  Justice can be a really strange thing!

     The Tribunal issued a "sealed" indictment of Raznatovic in 1997, but kept it
secret to facilitate his arrest.  After reports that Raznatovic and his "Tigers"
were active in Kosovo, the indictment was publicly disclosed in March of 1999.
Raznatovic was, by this time, owner of a casino and a soccer team, had married
a young "turbofolk" singer named "Ceca" (nee Svetlana Velickovic), and
believed himself untouchable by the Tribunal.  His statements about the
indictment to CNN and ABC are benchmarks of arrogance.

     Madame Carla Del Ponte, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal
for the Former Yugoslavia (a branch of the previously mentioned International
War Crimes Tribunal) issued a short statement, after learning of the death of
Raznatovic, in which she said: "I do regret, following the reported events of
Saturday evening that 'Arkan' will not appear in The Hague to answer to the
charges, which had been brought against him."  She went on to say she was
"confident" that other investigations would go forward concerning those who
"shared responsibility."  Madame Del Ponte is not alone with her feelings in
regard to Raznatovic and unrequited justice.  Many still regret the mysterious
suicide of Hermann Goering scant hours before he was scheduled to be hanged
for his Nazi crimes.

     The apparent architect of the declared genocide of the Balkan Muslims is
Slobodan Milosevic, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and like
Raznatovic, is under indictment and accused of crimes against humanity. [Note:
click here to e-mail Milosevic and share your thoughts.]  Milosevic enjoys a
limited sense of freedom (as long as he doesn't travel outside of his country),
much like other hated world leaders.  Perhaps he'll be overthrown one day, or
assassinated, or somehow brought before the International War Crimes Tribunal.
The murderers of Muslims in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, and those who gave
the orders, will answer for their acts.  But, I wonder, whose "justice" will be
meted out?  Yugoslavian?  International?  American?

     A few might suggest America dispatch some Men-In-Black who specialize in
"wet-work" to take care of Milosevic, but this would be against the law.  In
1976 President Ford issued an executive order prohibiting assassination by any
government employee, an order renewed by Carter and Reagan, and remaining
in place under Bush and Clinton.  Sure, America may drop thousands and
thousands of dollars worth of bombs all over the place (like the unfortunate
Libya incident when Qaddafi's daughter was killed), but is expressly forbidden to
send an operative to a foreign country to install an inexpensive bullet in the brain
of a specific individual.  It would appear that America likes to "play by the
rules," however this is not always the case.

     While most of Europe has outlawed the death-penalty, America is executing
more of its citizens than ever before.  Just last week, nice-guy Governor Jeb
Bush signed legislation which would give the condemned of Florida a choice
between getting fried in the electric chair or stuck with a lethal injection.  Of
course, in the ever-changing, fun-filled, the way-things-work-in-America,
Florida may actually appear civilized compared to such states as Utah, which
still sends their death-row dandies off to face a firing squad! [Note: Utah
continues with the firing squad because of the Mormon doctrine of "blood
atonement" and some gross belief that God likes it when blood gets splashed on
the ground, but why Idaho and Oklahoma continue to hand out blindfolds and
ask, "What do you want on your Tombstone?" is beyond me...]

     Zeljko Raznatovic was given a Serbian Orthodox Christian funeral attended
by several thousand supporters and a hero's send-off with four of his "Tigers"
acting as an "honor guard" and firing bullets into the air.  Belgrade police
reportedly have a couple of suspects in custody and a lead on a third, who's
alleged to be the "mastermind" behind the assassination.  It'll be interesting to
see what happens to the "suspects" and whether they receive punishment or are
awarded medals.

     The mission to bring the criminals responsible for the murders of thousands
of Balkan Muslims to justice is far from over and the death of Raznatovic is no
reason to party.  Now, if Milosevic happens to visit the Underworld, then maybe
we can throw back a few smart beverages with Death and consider justice
properly served.  I wish the Tribunal all the best!

remembering the victims,

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