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Reader Asks: 'Does Your Research Show that Hague Prosecutor Arbour Conferred with NATO Politicians before Indicting Milosevic?'

Jared Israel Replies

[Posted 12 June 2002 * Re-posted 2 August 2003]


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Dear Emperor's Clothes,

I am a defense attorney before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Last January, I debated Attorney Elise Groulx, President of the International Association of Defence Attorneys, and Professor Daniel Turp on the issues of the future International Criminal Court (ICC) and the two ad hoc courts for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. [1]

The debate took place on the Quebec program "Chasseur d'idées". We had very positive feed back, I think because my facts were coming from real experience describing the difficult conditions in these courts and the unjustice towards the accused. [2] People should look closely at the two ad hoc courts before they imagine that the ICC will be an independant instrument of justice.

I was pointing out the extreme politicisation of the Prosecutor and stated, as I recalled, that Louise Arbour had informed Bill Clinton before indicting Mr Milosevic at a time that negotiations were underway to end the bombing. [3]

Mrs Groulx and Mr Turp challenged my comment. I am quite sure I am right but cannot recall where I read this in May and June 1999.

Do you have any research on the question?

Thank you.

John Philpot
Alarie, Legault, Beauchemin, Paquin, Jobin, Brisson & Philpot
Montréal, Québec


Jared Israel Replies


Dear Attorney Philpot,

You raise a most important issue. If Louise Arbour's actions show she indicted Slobodan Milosevic on the orders of NATO leaders, then of course the case was a fraud from the start. This has a profound bearing on international law, with false court actions used to crush independent-minded leaders. And it has grave implications for national law as well; for how can injustice be institutionalized abroad without this coming home to roost? (Ms. Arbour herself now roosts on the Canadian Supreme Court.) [3A]

We can prove that Arbour consulted with NATO politicians prior to the so-called indictment. The sources are newspapers sympathetic to the Tribunal and transcripts of press conferences addressed by NATO leaders and 'Prosecutor' Louise Arbour herself. The newspaper articles are shocking. But the statements by Jamie Shea, Louise Arbour and Madeleine Albright are worse.

First off, you are right; Ms. Arbour did inform Bill Clinton (and also Tony Blair) before indicting President Milosevic.

A good source on this is an article co-authored by one Ed Vulliamy; good because Vulliamy is a professional Serb-baiter. For example, he was one of the 'journalists' who in August 1992 helped broadcast the lie that a refugee center at Trnopolje in Bosnia was a death camp.

Overly trusting Yugoslav officials had allowed Vulliamy and his colleagues at ITN, the British TV station, to wander unchaperoned around the Trnopolje refugee center. The Brits set up their cameras inside a barbed wire enclosure and filmed through the wire, so it appeared that the refugees were the ones behind barbed wire. With a little doctoring the pictures were made to look like shots of inmates in a Serbian death camp and hawked worldwide. Emperor's Clothes has exposed this fraud in the movie, 'Judgment!' [4]

The point is, Vulliamy is hardly pro-Milosevic. Thus his May 30, 1999 London Observer article on the indictment has the charming title: "War in the Balkans: Hawks smell a tyrant's blood".

Here's an excerpt:

[Excerpt from Vulliamy starts here]

"The decision to indict - with all its huge implications - appears to have been taken independently by Louise Arbour, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal, *even though she has been in regular contact with Western capitals and was clearly aware of the ramifications of her decision. *

"Both the United States and Britain were informed of her announcement on Thursday, two days in advance. It was discussed in a 10-minute conversation between Bill Clinton and Tony Blair on Tuesday."
-- My emphasis, (London) Observer, pg. 15

[Excerpt from Vulliamy ends here]

Since Vulliamy loathes Milosevic, and since he claims Arbour was independent, we have good reason to accept what he reveals here, which seems to be written against self-interest (i.e., it doesn't help his side).

The "ramifications of her decision" refers to the effect of the indictment on the bombing of Yugoslavia and negotiations over what Yugoslavia would have to give up for NATO to stop bombing. Note that Vulliamy says Arbour discussed these matters "regularly" with Western leaders. Nevertheless he tells us that Arbour's decision was made "independently". So an officer of a court has frequent consultations with powerful leaders of one side in a war concerning the possible indictment of the other side - and this constitutes independence!

Also on May 30th, the London Times reported, as if it were a fact, the amazing claim that British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook [5] was unaware of the 'indictment' until it was publicly announced. (Apparently when "the United States and Britain were informed" they forgot to tell the British Foreign Secretary...)

[London Times excerpt starts here]

"Robin Cook, the foreign secretary, received the news of the indictment as he boarded a plane for Rome for a hectic round of shuttle diplomacy. His aides expressed dismay, fearing the indictment would only exacerbate tensions within the alliance. Cook was more sanguine. "As there is no suggestion that Milosevic is coming any where near to meeting Nato's demands, there is not much to ruin," he confided. [Translation: the indictment was meant as a stick to force Milosevic to give in to NATO demands. - EC]

"Over a breakfast of parma ham and cheese, he persuaded Lamberto Dini, the Italian foreign minister, that maintaining the pressure on Milosevic was the only course Nato could take. Over a lunch of turbot and salad, he brought Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, onside. Over cherry pie and tea in Paris he agreed with Hubert Vedrine, the French foreign minister, that there would be no statements of dismay at the timing of Arbour's announcement or the effect it might have on Milosevic." [6]

[London Times excerpt ends here]

What a remarkable coincidence that Cook began his trip just when he needed to make such a tour to persuade European leaders to back the indictment - of which he was unaware!

For those who don't believe in modern miracles, it would appear that these newspaper accounts show that Arbour did not indict Milosevic for reasons of justice, but to suit NATO.

We have confirming evidence in the form of public remarks of Jamie Shea, then the top spokesperson for NATO, of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and of Louise Arbour herself. These remarks indicate that Ed Vulliamy *understated* the extent to which Arbour was acting on NATO's orders.

As quoted below, Jamie Shea greeted with contempt the suggestion that Prosecutor Arbour might decide to do something independent of NATO. And, as quoted further down, Albright and Arbour make it abundantly clear that, at the time the 'indictment' was being written, Arbour and her NATO-supplied staff were in constant communication with NATO leaders.

First let's look at Jamie Shea's May 17, 1999 NATO press briefing.

Shea was NATO's top spokesperson. During the briefing, a reporter asked if Prosecutor Arbour might be planning to indict NATO leaders for war crimes (which, by the way, those leaders abundantly deserve). Here is how Shea replied:

[Jamie Shea quote starts here]

"I think we have to distinguish between the theoretical and the practical. I believe that *when Justice Arbour starts her investigation, she will because we will allow her to.* It's not Milosevic that has allowed Justice Arbour her visa to go to Kosovo to carry out her investigations. If her court, as we want, is to be allowed access, it will be because of NATO so NATO is the friend of the Tribunal, NATO are the people who have been detaining indicted war criminals for the Tribunal in Bosnia. We have done it, 14 arrests so far by SFOR, and we will continue to do it.

"NATO countries are those that have provided the finance to set up the Tribunal, we are amongst the majority financiers, and of course to build a second chamber so that prosecutions can be speeded up so let me assure that we and the Tribunal are all one on this, we want to see war criminals brought to justice and I am certain that when Justice Arbour goes to Kosovo and looks at the facts she will be indicting people of Yugoslav nationality and I don't anticipate any others at this stage." (My emphasis) [7]

[Jamie Shea quote ends here]

Blunt, isn't he?

Now consider Arbour's joint press conference with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. This was on April 30, 1999, four weeks before the so-called indictment. One might argue that the very act of holding a joint press conference with a top leader of the side that had started the war she was investigating (supposedly independently) demonstrates that Arbour represented NATO, not justice.

Below I've posted lengthy excerpts from the press conference. Note that Secretary Albright says, in essence, "Louise Arbour is going to indict Slobodan Milosevic because she knows we desire it," and the independent Ms. Arbour says, in essence, "I am motivated by justice ...Can I have more money?"

Note also that Arbour boasts about having extensive talks with leaders in Germany, France, the UK and the US. Her Hague 'tribunal' got its strategy, its money, its staff and its investigators (or should I say, 'evidence fabricators'?) from NATO governments.

That such a court, so openly an agency of the US-led Empire, can indict a national leader without furious protests from organizations like the International Association of Defence Attorneys, speaks volumes about the state of law in our time. Given this deplorable reality, why should we expect the new International Criminal Court (ICC) to be anything but a tool of Empire, demonizing, intimidating and punishing leaders who uphold national sovereignty and resist the Empire's demands?

Below is the text of the Albright/Arbour press conference.

Best regards,
Jared Israel


Excerpts from...

Albright/Arbour Press Conference
30 April 1999

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Justice Louise Arbour, International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia Joint Press Conference, Washington, D.C.

As released by Office of Spokesman, U.S. Department of State


* Secretary Albright

Justice Arbour and I today discussed how the United States can provide more information to the Tribunal, and how to speed up delivery of potential evidence to The Hague. I assured her that we are asking Congress for additional resources for the Tribunal to meet new demands for investigations in Kosovo. And we discussed other needs of her investigations, which I am not going to get into, but which I assure you that the United States will do everything we possibly can to meet.

We are also thinking ahead to the Tribunal's needs after the fighting stops. We have consulted with Justice Arbour and begun planning for how we could facilitate access by Tribunal investigators to crime scenes in Kosovo.

The Tribunal now needs real-time support for its Kosovo investigations, and the United States is determined to give it. The world needs to know exactly what is happening there, and we are committed to helping discover it. Milosevic's victims, and those everywhere who love justice, need to know that there will be no impunity for those who commit these heinous offenses. And we're committed to helping the Tribunal ensure that those responsible are held accountable. Justice Arbour.

* Justice Arbour

Thank you. I don't have a statement. I think I'd rather turn to your questions, except to say that I've had very fruitful discussions. We had announced a few weeks ago that we now need unprecedented assistance, in order to respond to the kinds of allegations that are coming out of Kosovo in a time frame that will make our work relevant. The discussions I've had in Germany, in the United Kingdom, here, and that I hope to have in France next week, are very much a part of our effort to obtain this kind of assistance. I'm happy to say that the support that is promised to us is starting to materialize, and I hope that it will permit us to face this massive flow of information and organize it in a coherent fashion that will allow us to discharge our mandate in a real-time environment.

* Reporter's Question

Did you discuss an indictment of Slobodan Milosevic, and did you discuss reports that Justice Arbour is planning to leave this position; and what is the US view of that?

* Secretary Albright

Well, obviously, the question of what is going to happen to Mr. Milosevic is a subject that is very much on our minds, and Justice Arbour knows what we have said both publicly and privately; that she and the Tribunal need to follow out the trail of evidence to its conclusion. We, as I said, are supportive of her efforts.

She and I did not personally discuss the subject of -- it is my understanding. We talked about the challenge of the position. I was there when she was chosen as prosecutor, and I made very clear to her our tremendous support for the work that she has done and will continue to do. She is a great public servant, and someone that the international community has the highest respect for.

* Justice Arbour

...We are here and elsewhere [she means: I have travelled to Washington and elsewhere - JI], to ensure that we get the assistance to move the cases forward *in that direction.* Whether it points to any particular individual, I think the law is very clear: there is no immunity before our Tribunal for heads of state. There's no immunity, essentially, for any individual, both in a personal or a command responsibility position. All our discussions take place in that framework. [My Emphasis - JI]


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Footnotes and Further Reading


[1] 'Unjust from the Start, Part IV: Learning from the Inquisition,' is part IV of law professor Kosta Cavoski's series on The Hague 'tribunal.' It can be read at

In 'An Impartial Tribunal? Really?', Attorney Chris Black examines the Tribunal's history and methods of operations. Can be read at

[2] "Racism, Murder and Lies in Rwanda," by Christopher Black can be read at

[3] 'By Adding Three Lies, One Does not Get the Truth - Only a Bigger Lie,' is a statement Slobodan Milosevic made during a pre-'trial' hearing at The Hague. It contradicts what one might expect Milosevic to say, based on his portrait as drawn in the Western media. Can be read at

[3A] In 'For Whom the Bell Tolls,' Jared Israel warns that the gutting of legal norms, known as The Hague and Rwanda tribunals, is setting the stage for the gutting of legal standards everywhere.

[4] The video JUDGMENT is discussed at

[5] In the article, 'We've Been Lied To Once Again - This Time About Milosevic,' Jared Israel shows how then British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook lied about the views expressed by Slobodan Milosevic in his famous speech at Kosovo Field in 1989

[6] Sunday Times (London) May 30, 1999, Overseas news, 'Turning the screw,' By Juliette Terzieff in Kosovo and Matthew Campbell in Washington

[7] May 17, 1999 Transcript of NATO press conference by Jamie Shea & Major General W. Jertz in Brussels Transcribed by M2 PRESSWIRE (c) 1999. To see the excerpt in context of the full transcript, go to:

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