Putting Direct Perpetrators on Trial: the Ovcara Massacre Trial in Belgrade
Title: Putting Direct Perpetrators on Trial: the Ovcara Massacre Trial in Belgrade
Author: MAHIEU, Stephanie
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2007/11
This paper is based on ethnographical fieldwork conducted in The Hague, Croatia and Serbia. It addresses the distinction between command and individual responsibility on the one hand, and between individual responsibility and collective guilt on the other, by focusing on the two trials related to the Ovcara massacre, the one in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the one in Belgrade, and on non-juridical attempts to deal with the past in Serbia. My main question here is the following: are trials held in the territory of the former Yugoslavia more likely than the trials held in The Hague to contribute to the two major features of restorative justice, i.e. to repair the harm suffered by the victims and to reintegrate the offenders into their community. On the basis of the meetings I had with the association Vukovarske Majke, it seems that the victims’ families expect more from local trials than from the ICTY: even though, and maybe because, the indictees are the direct killers of their relatives, they are the ones who can give details about the circumstances of the massacre, and information about the location of the still missing corpses. Yet they all underlined that local trials would never have happened without the existence of the ICTY. In addition, in a situation of such massive crimes, courtrooms are not the only spaces were justice can be dispensed. The essential work of dealing with the past outside the courtrooms, as the example of Novi Sad’s Helsinki Committee for Human Rights presented in this paper shows, is an important step towards restorative justice.
Subject: Vukovar; Croatia; Serbia; Restorative Justice; International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); Anthropology; Command Responsibility; Collective Guilt
Type of Access: openAccess