Mike Thomson for BBC Radio 4 :
Papers unearthed by the BBC reveal that British and American commanders ensured that the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 was seen as a "whites only" victory.
Many who fought Nazi Germany during World War II did so to defeat the vicious racism that left millions of Jews dead.
Yet the BBC's Document programme has seen evidence that black colonial soldiers - who made up around two-thirds of Free French forces - were deliberately removed from the unit that led the Allied advance into the French capital.
By the time France fell in June 1940, 17,000 of its black, mainly West African colonial troops, known as the Tirailleurs Senegalais, lay dead.
Many of them were simply shot where they stood soon after surrendering to German troops who often regarded them as sub-human savages.
Their chance for revenge came in August 1944 as Allied troops prepared to retake Paris. But despite their overwhelming numbers, they were not to get it.
The leader of the Free French forces, Charles de Gaulle, made it clear that he wanted his Frenchmen to lead the liberation of Paris.
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Friday, April 10, 2009
Mike Thomson for BBC Radio 4 :
From Tony R. Rodriguez's report as East Bay Literary Examiner :
Editor David Stephen Calonne brings to readers Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, a new assembly of previously uncollected stories and essays by the renowned latter-day Beat, Charles Bukowski. With selected pieces ranging from 1944-1990, Bukowski cleverly paints his careful moments of brutal honesty that can be regarded as some of the most sublime narratives Bukowski’s ever produced. Readers will again experience his artistically rugged tone of voice, one we find to be full of emotional risk and zeal for celebrating life. With brief moments of rambunctious revelry blending with snapshots of reflective salvation, Bukowski maintains his literary craft for savage style and deliberate deliverance.
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MUMBAI (AFP) — India's general election will produce no clear-cut winner, astrologers, tarot card readers and clairvoyants said, predicting another coalition government and even new polls in two years' time.
"There will be a coalition. Until June 23, the election picture will not be clear and final, whatever happens," astrologer and clairvoyant Bejan Daruwalla told AFP.
Daruwalla's prediction -- based, he said, on a vision -- is in line with more earthly methods of forecasting the result of this month's polls, which sees the Congress-led government up against the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and an array of smaller, regional parties.
Political pundits say BJP leader L.K. Advani could give Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a run for his money, and possibly unseat him after four years in power.
Stargazers Raj Kumar Sharma and Lalla Shah agreed with Daruwalla's assessment, viewing the current alignment of stars and planets as unfavourable for a majority in the lower house of parliament.
Sharma attributed it to having fiery Saturn in the house of its arch enemy Leo and positive Jupiter in negative Capricorn, creating "a very confusing state of mind for the public and for the politicians."
But the trio differed as to their predictions about which party would win most seats in the lower house of parliament -- and who would partner them to govern India's 1.1 billion people.
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Russian historian Alexander Dyukov, nicknamed the Dragon by his friends, arrived in Tallinn on the 60th anniversary of Stalinist deportations, Eesti Ekspress reports. Dyukov is one of the key players in Russia's information war against Estonia, according to the paper.
In Tallinn, he presented his book, The Myth About Genocide: Soviet Reprisals in Estonia (1940-1953). The Estonian translation of the book has been published by the former operative of the intelligence directorate of the KGB of Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic Vladimir Illyashevich who distributed the book free of charge to vistors of the presentation.
Since 2007, the young, 30 years old researcher has written and published five books, more than 50 articles and in addition has participated in many historical publications and drawing up of collections of documents. Eesti Ekspress names it a fact of surprising working capacity.
Dyukov is authorized to freely work in the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Military Archive, the Archive of the President of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Archive of Modern History, the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History, the Central Archive of the FSB of the Russian Federation and the Central Archive the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, also in the Archive of Belarus KGB. He has free access to the archives which are unavailable to majority of Russian historians, not even speaking about Estonian ones.
His books have been always corresponding to current political discussion and their coverage in Russian mass media is simply massed, Eesti Ekspress marks. He has been contributing to such "hot" topics as reprisals of the Soviet authorities in the Baltic countries and in Western Ukraine. In his works Dyukov justifies deportations and other Communist crimes, the paper points out. Already the title of the book, The Myth About Genocide..., has been showing the accent he emphasizes in the publication.
Dyukov does not consider researches of Estonian historians even worth of serious analysis as they are always written on evidence and memoirs of the deported persons and to rumors and under influence of nationalist propaganda, as he puts it.
The Estonian paper assumes that judging in particular from the easy access to the FSB and KGB archives given to Dyukov, he in fact may appear an employee of the FSB and a provocateur in the information war. Eesti Espress even consider that a collective body of hardworking Russian historians-archivists may have been hidden under the name of this public figure.
It seems that there are bases for similar suspicions, the paper notes. Earlier this year, a photographer and a historian of Russian origin, Sergei Melnikoff, living in Florida, US, directly declared that Dyukov was a staff employee of the Russian FSB's 'P' department under the nickname of "FLAG". It means a banner in a literally translation, or a flag-officer, and in the information war, Dyukov is really a flag-officer, according to Eesti Ekspress. In his retort, Dyukov tried to deride Melnikoff's claims in his blog.
Application of methods of information and propaganda wars in the field of history research is nothing new even in Estonia, the paper adds. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet KGB and its Estonian branch published series of books and articles in which they branded every politically active Estonian living abroad and calling for freedom of their motherland as Nazi war criminal or at least as their sympathizer. or less active Estonians living abroad, Eesti Express concludes.
~ Eurasian Secret Services Daily Review ~
From Buzzle :
A new campaign by those disaffected with our shopping culture could be a cure for anxiety and low self-esteem, says Jackie Ashley.
Easter? It's about chocolate, obviously, but it is about so much else too. This is an appropriate time of year to reflect on our monotheism. We shall have one god, a jealous god, and no other gods shall we worship. Luckily, except for a few weirdos on the edges of society, we all do worship the one god, yea, the source of all happiness - shopping. It has just been predicted that we will spend £10.5bn over the four-day Easter break. Never have the British been so soaked in consumerism.
But perhaps there is evidence of a backlash against this glossy and omnipresent deity. Next week a conference at London Metropolitan University takes place with the title Countering Consumerism: Religious and Secular Responses. This may very well get them a fatwa from Tesco. Perhaps the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, which has seen sales improve so strongly in the past six months, will be standing outside with a placard declaring "Down with the blasphemers!", and a pile of organic air-freighted fruit with which to pelt the academics.
Interestingly, the conference does not start with the traditional leftwing case against consumerism, the austere hatred of waste that British people once felt, remembered by millions as simply: "Finish your dinner, what about the children in Africa?" There is nothing wrong with that, of course, except that the notion that we should all feel guilty about enjoying material plenty was so comprehensively defeated by the consumer booms of recent decades. It feels like a lost argument from another age.
Instead, the conference promises to focus on a backlash against the shopping culture for producing too much stress and pollution, and too little real satisfaction - the dark side of the consumer culture as experienced by those who are already sated. It talks of "alternative hedonism" - what Kate Soper, one of the organisers, calls "self-interested disaffection with consumerism" on the part of consumers themselves.
This is coming at a time when many organisations, from the television watchdog Ofcom to the National Consumer Council, have been looking at the effect of the shopping culture and its ubiquitous advertising, particularly on children. Polls show that an overwhelming majority of parents are worried. Across Europe there are moves to restrict junk-food advertisements from children's television.
With good reason; work by Juliet Schor of Boston College has tried to track how children are drawn into the shopping culture. Unsurprisingly, she finds that the more children are exposed to the media, mainly television, the more avidly they become consumers. More controversially, she goes on to argue that this produces "higher rates of depression, anxiety and psychosomatic complaints such as headache, stomach ache and boredom, as well as lower self-esteem". Consumerism, says Schor, is "ailing America's children."
The point of anti-consumerism, however, is not to ban one kind of advert any more than it is to produce better labelling about the fat and salt content of food. These things are useful in themselves, but if anything they could be called pro-consumerism: by reassuring consciences, they allow us to return to the shopping frenzy with renewed energy. The point of "alternative hedonism" is to confront the frenzy itself.
~ more... ~
From Radical Philosophy :
by Maurizio Lazzarato
According to Michel Foucault, for some time we have been leaving disciplinary societies in order to enter into societies of security that, unlike the former, 'tolerate a whole host of behaviours that are different, varied, or even deviant and antagonistic toward one another'.1 These societies lead us beyond disciplines, because they put in place policies regarding the government of conducts that are exercised through the management of heterogeneities and the 'optimization of systems of differences' – that is, through the differential administration of inequalities (disparities in situation, income, status, knowledge, and so on).
Again according to Foucault, in societies of security the function of liberal policies regarding the government of conducts is 'to produce, instigate and enhance freedoms', 'to introduce a surplus of freedom', but to do so 'through a surplus of control and intervention'. The government of conducts, Foucault says, 'produces freedom, but, in the same gesture, implies that limitations, controls, and coercions are set in place'. Following Félix Guattari, we can make these statements more precise. While contemporary capitalism produces a 'generalized control, it is nevertheless forced to preserve a minimum of degrees of freedom, creativity, and inventiveness in the domain of the sciences, technologies and the arts, without which the system would collapse in a kind of entropic inertia'.2 Just like the production of disparities or inequalities, the production of freedom is differential. Depending on the situations, activities, social groups and balance of forces at stake, there will be what Guattari defines as absolutely heterogeneous 'coefficients of freedom'. The government of conducts will then be exercised through a modulation of coefficients of heterogeneity and coefficients of freedom.
In order to grasp these modalities of the government of contemporary capitalism, it is perhaps useful to analyse what modernity regarded as the very paradigm of freedom, heterogeneity, difference and deviance: art and the artist. To the passage from disciplinary societies to societies of security there corresponds a transformation in artistic practices and techniques, in the conception and function of art, artists and publics, in the relationship that the latter entertain with society, the economy and politics. In order to analyse this passage we will make use of Jacques Rancière's 'aesthetic regime of the arts' – which in my view makes perfectly explicit what we no longer are – alongside the work of Marcel Duchamp, and freely interpret a novella by Kafka, which will allow us to grasp what we are in the process of becoming.
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There is an excellent passage in Nadja on the 'enchanting days spent looting Paris under the sign of Sacco and Vanzetti' and Breton adds the assurance that in those days the Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle [Boulevard of Good Tidings] fulfilled the strategic promise of revolt that its name had always held.1
'The Right to the Use of Force'
Benjamin's critique of violence cannot be separated from its religious inspiration. Not merely does it open up a space of thinking unavailable to the profane discourse of his time; it also enables him to conceive of a 'radical politics that is “just” and, precisely for this reason, wants to be nothing but politics'.2 Conversely, and by the same token, this points to a notion of justice modelled on the Jewish God. Radical profanity in the spirit of theology: this seeming paradox is, we saw, the crux of the 'Theologico-Political Fragment'. In acknowledging the autonomy of the profane order – and thus presumably the 'legitimacy of modernity' (Blumenberg) – it rejects any form of political theocracy3 and obviates any attempt to (re)theologize the profane. Aside from the Protestant ethic analysed by Weber, there is perhaps no greater immunity to false idols, including those of the capitalist market, than the one afforded by an old religion. All the more so if, as here, it propels a radically 'profane order of the profane' on its way.
Seen in this light, the modern state would be the 'new idol'4 that Zarathustra calls it – a hybrid between myth and demythologization. A rough draft for a review article from the same period, 'The Right to the Use of Force' (Das Recht zur Gewaltanwendung), suggests as much.5 It is irrelevant, Benjamin there writes, 'whether the state imposes itself [sich einsetzt] as the supreme legal institution [Rechtsinstitut] by its own authority [Machtvollkommenheit] or by an alien one'6 – that is, as a secular or a religious theocracy. In either case, it needs to be dissolved into a politics that is 'nothing but politics'.
Benjamin's draft enumerates four critical options: (A) to deny both the state and the individual the right to use force; (B) to recognize unconditionally the right of both to do so; (C) to grant it to the state alone; (D) to grant it only to the individual. To sum up an already summary argument: Benjamin maintains that (A) – termed 'ethical anarchism' by the author under review – is valid for morality (though not for the reasons usually given), but not for politics; that (B) is intrinsically contradictory and effectively leads to (C), which would be defensible only if the state and its laws coincided with the ethical order; and that, since there is (contrary to C) a contradiction in principle between the state and ethical life and (contrary to A) none in principle between force and the ethical order, (D) remains the only logical possibility. It is its apparent material impossibility that prompts the author under review to reject it out of hand.7 But a 'word against the law', the 'Critique of Violence' claims, is not necessarily spoken into the wind.
~ Source: Radical Philosophy ~
From Boloji :
by J. Ajithkumar
Outspoken or silent belief in evolution of species (of life) is indeed the sure sign of intelligent human beings in this modern age. Those who are still struggling with unsubstantiated theories of creation of species can be at best classified as primates who missed evolution process or those who are trapped in the cobwebs of their social setup. All natural phenomena in this universe, including the very working nature of it, are cyclic in nature and it is nothing but natural to expect the reversal of evolution to take place in due course.
The upward evolution of species will definitely be followed by their steady deterioration once the evolutionary trend has peaked and a plateau had set in for some period. One look at the increasing disorder in this planet in recent times makes me feel that we have already been on the evolution plateau and are seeing the dawn of 'de-evolution'
All evolutions follow a path of slow and steady improvement of qualities based on natural selection and survival of the fittest. Then it is only natural to expect that the reverse is true in the case of de-evolution. It may not be far away from truth to expect the 'unfittest' to become extinct first. Those among all the species who cannot adapt well to the changing conditions of physical and social world would fall away first only to be followed by those who are little better. The process would continue until some species would disappear totally sooner than others. We are already seeing this in the animal world and many world bodies of human beings are monitoring this with great concern. What is not being monitored in a similar pattern is our own decline in the various parts of this world. Many individuals, communities and isms the world over are finding it increasingly difficult to survive the unmerciful march of time.
Un-survival of Un-fittest
If survival of the fittest was the crux of evolution, the disability of individuals, communities and isms to fit in with the pace and scrutiny of modern times are the reasons for their decline leading to eventual extinction. What we call as Science is the sum total of human capacity for scrutiny and analysis of everything for their substance and relevance. All tangibles and intangibles who cannot survive the trial of Science will have to decline and fade out in the long run. The decline of so many empires and emperors is nothing but a combined effect of the failure of the associated individuals, communities and isms. In the beginning of evolution, the resourceful few could establish their rule over others and popularize their own isms. When evolution climbed steadily upwards they had to give way to the pressure from evolving 'others' and the scrutiny of their isms by 'others'. All those which were built up on falsehood and power naturally failed in the process.
~ more... ~
From 911 Blogger :
"If we prosecute those in America who only commit one murder, under what theory don't we prosecute a president who is criminally responsible for over four thousand murders?" Vincent Bugliosi
(April 7, Wash. DC) The legendary Los Angeles County prosecutor and top selling true crime author, Vincent Bugliosi, continues to make the case that he argued in detail in his New York Times best seller, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. His crime, according to the esteemed former prosecutor: deliberately deceiving the United States into an illegal war that resulted in the deaths of 4,200 U.S. soldiers and more than 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians.
He has the help of a citizens group called ABA Publishing headed by Arminda and Bob Alexander with Jude Morford. The all volunteer group recently sent Bugliosi's cover letter and book to 2,200 local prosecutors across the country.
Bugliosi is offended by the prominence of proposed torture charges to the exclusion of what he argues is the much larger charge: murder. .
Prof. Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University School of Law was asked what charges were the most likely if there's ever a serious investigation into Bush administration criminal activities. Turley noted:
The two most obvious crimes in this administration are the torture program and the unlawful surveillance program. Despite the effort to pretend that there is some ambiguity or uncertainty on these crimes, the law is quite clear.
Blog of Legal Times, Dec. 23, 2008
Torture and illegal wiretapping are important concerns to Bugliosi.
But murder is by far the larger crime with a much stronger case, Bugliosi argues.
~ more... ~
From Taiwan News :
Arsonists planted incendiary devices at Greece's main Orthodox cathedral and three other churches Thursday in a provocative new round of anarchist violence since major riots in December.
Police said one device exploded causing minor damage outside the Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in the port of Piraeus, near the Greek capital. No one was hurt when the crude gasoline device went off at around 3 p.m. (1200 GMT).
Police defused four similar devices found at the Orthodox Cathedral in Athens, and in the northern city of Thessaloniki's central churches of Agia Sofia and Agios Dimitrios.
An anarchist group calling itself "Nihilist Faction" claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement posted on the Internet.
The group said it carried out the attacks before Orthodox Easter on April 18 to protest what it described as the church's "underhand role in the oppression of the people."
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From Balkan Travellers :
A large number of Greek consumers are organising a boycott of the expensive coffee served in the Athens cafés, which they claim is one of Europe's priciest.
The protest, planned to take place this Saturday, is organised through the Internet, the Greek Ta Nea newspaper reported.
More than 5.8 billion coffees of all kinds, with an overall value of 1.8 billion euro, are consumed each year in Greece, according to the publication, which also noted the Greeks' strong connection to coffee.
Evgeny Morozov reports for Net Effect :
Cellphones and text messaging are widely believed to have played a crucial role in fostering the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (or at least, making the protests as widespread and successful as they were); the Berkman Center at Harvard published probably the most comprehensive study of the role that social media played in the Orange Revolution (even though I criticized some of its cyber-utopian assumptions in a recent essay for Boston Review).
Could it be that five years after the famous protests in Kiev's Maidan Square another technology - Twitter - will usher in another revolution in neighbouring Moldova? Will we remember the events that are now unfolding in Chisinau not by the color of the flags but by the social-networking technology used?
If you asked me about the prospects of a Twitter-driven revolution in a low-tech country like Moldova a week ago, my answer would probably be a qualified "no". Today, however, I am no longer as certain. If you bothered to check the most popular discussions on Twitter in the last 48 hours, you may have stumbled upon a weird threat of posts marked with a tag "#pman" (it's currently listed in Twitter's "Trending Topics" along with "Apple Store", Eminem, and Easter).
No, "pman" is not short for "pacman"; it stands for "Piata Marii Adunari Nationale", which is Romanian name for the biggest square in Chisinau, Moldova's capital. This is not the first time that a Twitter "tag" has been used to mobilize young people around a particular event; the most famous previous case has been that of "griots" - the tag used to report on the youth riogs in Greece, which later spread to Europe, arguably also with the help of Twitter (check these two pieces I wrote on the subject of "networked protest" - one for The Economist and one for openDemocracy).
Ever since yesterday's announcement that Moldova's communists have won enough votes to form a government in Sunday's elections, Moldova's progressive youth took to the streets in angry protests. As behooves any political protest by young people today, they also turned to Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness about the planned protests and flashmobs. Led by youth NGOs like HydePark and ThinkMoldova, the protests began very peacefully - as a flashmob, where young people were simply supposed to hold lit candles in the vicinity of the square.
However, this morning things got out of hand - and, with or without Twitter's help, the crowd got much larger, reaching as many as 10,000 people, who first picketed Election Commission headquarters, the president's residence (windows are reported to be broken - and there are also reports that this building has been stormed), and other government buildings before storming the building of the Moldovan Parliament, which happens to be just across the road.
Technology is playing an important role in facilitating these protests. In addition to huge mobilization eforts both on Twitter and Facebook, Moldova's angry youth - especially those who are currently abroad (roughly a quarter of Moldova's population are working abroad due to dire economic conditions back at home) - could follow the events on this livestream provided by a Romanian TV station - directly from the square.
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From Lankasrinews :
7 Apr, 2009
The SLA had announced that they had surrounded and captured Puthukudiyiruppu. They also claim that they have defeated the tigers and mass of them are dead. These are the words found in all leading newspapers and media news.
But, actually according to the news sources reached recently, is when the army surrounded the area, the tigers made their fierce attack severely. When the army cannot equalize and balance their position, they announced the tigers to get surrender. After giving the time limit, they used the heavy poisonous gas bomb over the area. The bomb attacked the LTTE cadres and they were dead, then the army had gone ahead. Some person who escaped from the bomb attack are suffered from giddiness, vommiting and breathing problems.
When the army communications are recorded secretly it came to know that, before using the poisonous gas bombs the army seeks permission from some officials and they were provided immediately with face mask and also army had moved back. Even the effect of the bomb had attacked some armymen also.
India and Sri Lanka are trying to destroy LTTE upto its root, even by using the weapons that are banned worldwide. The International community also seeing and supporting this horror.
From the Institute for War and Peace Reporting :
War crimes trials in Croatia remain hampered by political pressure and must be improved urgently before the Hague tribunal closes its doors, activists and politicians said at a conference held in Zagreb last week.
In a report presented at the event, three Croatian NGOs – Documenta, the Osijek Center for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights, and the Citizens' Human Rights Committee – oulined many weaknesses in the way in which local war crimes trials are conducted.
They cited an adverse political climate, insufficient staff and technical support, weak protection of witnesses and inabsentia cases.
In 2008, these NGOs monitored two dozen war crimes trials held in Croatia and the report presented in the Croatian capital on March 24 was a compilation of their findings.
“The judicial, executive and legislative bodies of Croatia have not made the expected and necessary step forward,” director of Documenta Vesna Terselic told the conference.
“Neither the administration of justice, nor the executive government has made any progress in trials [or] in creating a favourable atmosphere for witnesses. There are still problems when victims testify.”
Speaking of the politically charged atmosphere surrounding war crimes, Terselic noted that the Croatian parliament's decision to release from custody member of parliament Branimir Glavas – accused of war crimes against nine Serb civilians in Osijek in 1991 – was blatant interference into the theoretically independent judiciary and a “clear demonstration of the power of politics”.
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From What Karadzic Prosecutors Learnt From Krajisnik Trial
Krajisnik was originally sentenced to 27 years in prison for crimes against humanity – including persecution, murder, extermination and deportation – for his bid to permanently remove Bosniaks and Croats from large areas of Bosnia between July 1, 1991 and December 30, 1992.
Trial judges found him guilty of responsibility for the killing approximately 3,000 Bosnian Muslims and Croats and forcibly removing more than 100,000 non-Serbs from Bosnian Serb-held territory.
But he was acquitted of genocide charges after judges found that prosecutors had failed to prove that he possessed genocidal intent, an element necessary for a conviction.
In last month's appeal verdict, judges reduced Krajisnik's sentence to 20 years after overturning his convictions for murder, extermination, as well as several of the more serious persecution counts, including cruel and inhumane treatment and unlawful detention.
Appeals judges upheld his conviction for persecution, committed through deportation and forcible transfer, saying they were satisfied with the trial chamber's finding that Krajisnik “shared the intent” to commit these crimes as part of the joint criminal enterprise.
In explaining why the convictions were overturned, appeals judges said the trial chamber had erred by failing to establish which local politicians, military forces, police commanders and paramilitary leaders it was refering to when it mentioned lower-level members of the joint criminal enterprise.
It also failed to show exactly when the crimes of murder, extermination, and more serious counts of persecution became part of the Bosnian Serb leaders' criminal plan, the appeal judges said.
Karadzic is charged with many of the same crimes – including killings and extermination in the Bosnian municipalities of Bijeljina, Brcko, Foca, Ilijas, Kljuc, Kotor Varos, Novi Grad and Prijedor – of which Krajisnik has now been acquitted.
Some say that following the Krajisnik appeal judgement, the prosecution in the Karadzic trial will be under pressure to ensure that it can deliver on all the charges against the former Bosnian Serb strongman – particularly after appeals judges confirmed that he and Krajisnik were members of the same joint criminal enterprise at the top of the Bosnian Serb regime.
“Anyone concluding from all of this that [it is a matter of] going in there and putting on evidence and walking away with a conviction on Karadzic, I think is mistaken,” Michael Karnavas, a defence lawyer at the Hague tribunal, told IWPR.
“Karadzic is [Krajisnik's] political twin so the evidence that applies to one applies to the other.
“If they couldn't get Krajisnik [for several of the charges in his indictment], it's going to be very difficult to [prove similar charges against] Karadzic, unless there's additional evidence.”
But despite the strong links between the two cases, other observers do not believe that overturning many of Krajisnik's convictions will have a significant bearing on the Karadzic case.
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From Del Ponte ordered to return to Argentina and forget about her book's launch
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) - Carla Del Ponte, former prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), has exhausted the patience of the invariably calm Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, where she works.
She received a message ordering her to immediately return to her position as ambassador to Argentina, and banning her presence at the launch of her new book, "The Hunt: Me and War Criminals," which was scheduled for early April in Milan. "Any public presentation of this work is incompatible with the author's status of a Swiss ambassador...Carla Del Ponte's book...contains statements, which are unacceptable for a representative of the government of Switzerland," department spokesman Jean-Philippe Jeannerat said in a special statement to the press on April 8.
Any other diplomat would have been knocked out for a long time by this public reprimand, but not the Swiss Iron Lady. She calmly left Italy, and is supposed to have arrived in Argentina by now. Indeed, how does this pinprick compare with numerous awful nicknames that Del Ponte is bizarrely proud of? They were coined by all those she punished as a former Swiss Attorney General, and head of the ICTY (from 1999 to 2007). In her latter position, she was dubbed "New Gestapo," Italian Cosa Nostra called her "La Puttana," and Swiss bankers gave her the name of "Unguided Missile."
But Del Ponte does not find these labels insulting because they only show how good she is at her job. Her former Italian colleague Giovanni Falcone called her the "incarnation of stubbornness," but she was unabashed. She has a strange attitude toward these assessments, but it is enough to see her in flesh and blood once, and many questions will disappear.
Ponte's 416-page book about her work as the head of the ICTY was published in Italian by the Milan-based Fertinelli publishers, and has already been translated into English and French. For 20 euros, one can get an insight into the prosecutor's inner world. In general, her book is dry and would have been even drier if she had not had a co-author - New York Times reporter Chuck Sudetic.
In principle, Del Ponte has not revealed any secrets. Serbian refugees reported that Kosovo Albanians cut the organs out of live Serbs, and shipped them to the West as donor organs for transplantations. But Serbs were not supposed to be trusted in the 1990s. The prosecutor's voice sounds more convincing, but suggests the following question - why didn't she do anything in order to find the culprits and punish them?
Del Ponte claims that she could do nothing because it was next to impossible to collect evidence in Kosovo, which was swarming with criminals. Witnesses were intimidated, and even judges in The Hague were afraid of the Kosovo Albanians. She writes in her book that some of the tribunal's judges were afraid that Albanians would come deal with them.
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