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tv   Book Discussion on The Butchers Trail  CSPAN  March 29, 2016 8:00pm-8:51pm EDT

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madison. because addition sets up the political structures but it's also the law and if it's the law we have the courts tell us what it means and that's binding on the other branches. >> what sets it apart is the fact that it's the ultimate anti-presidential case. >> who should make the decisions about this debate. the supreme court said it should make the decisions about those things. tonight on the special primetime edition of booktv nonfiction authors on international affairs next, julian borger on his book
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"the butcher's trail" about the international war hunt for balkan criminals. he recently spoke at a bookstore in washington. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] sydney okay we are ready to begin.
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good evening time bradley graham co-owner of politics and prose along with my wife on behalf of the entire staff thank you for coming. a few quick of ministry of notes now would be a good time to turn off your cell phones or anything that might go deep. when you get to the q&a part of the session if you have a question please make your way to this microphone here because as you can see we are filming both for our youtube channel and also for c-span booktv so we would like to be able to hear your questions and also if you use the microphone others in the store can hear the question as well. at the end before you come up to get your book signed our staff would appreciate it if you fold up chairs that you are sitting in and leaned them against something that looks like it won't topple over. this evening we are going to hear about a pretty remarkable
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true story, one that hasn't really been told before, the story of what author and journalist julian borger calls the world's most successful manhunt. is manhunt targeted 161 individuals wanted for war crimes in connection with the balkan conflicts in the 1990s. remember that was the period when the term ethnic cleansing and merged as a kind of euphemism for the wholesale slaughter that was once again taking place in the heart of europe. those responsible for this brutality were identified and indicted subsequently by the international criminal tribunal in the former yugoslavia. the special court in the hague created in 1993 by the united nations. it was the first time that a global court had been established to pursue war
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criminals and ended up engaging in an even more substantial hunt down the search for nazis after world war ii. why 2011 all 161 of those indicted had either been captured or killed or had surrendered were committed suicide. now a lot of the men had was conducted in secret and involved special forces from a number of countries by agencies and even an intrepid tracking unit inside the hague tribunal itself. but their achievement and the subsequent trial have set a precedent for international authorities can bring justice to bear against those responsible for mass atrocities and other crimes against humanity. through much dogged reporting juliette who is an experienced british journalist has the
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together this amazing story. he is drawn in more 200 interviews with soldiers, intelligence officials investigators diplomats and others and they also obtained access to files of previously secret british government documents. julianne covered the bosnian work for the bbc and the guardian living in sarajevo in the mid-1990s. in 1999 he returned to the balkans to report on the kosovo conflict. he is currently a world affairs editor at the guardian and was part of the team that won the guardian's 2000 for pulitzer for journalism for coverage of the edward snowden files. julian's book "the butcher's trail" has received favorable reviews for both its abundant detail, gripping narrative style a vivid page turning account and the new york journal of looks that quote the fascinating tale
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is difficult to put down and reads like the best written true crime. so please join me in warmly welcoming julian borger. ipods go. >> thank you very much and thank you very much to politics and prose for having me here. i really love the publicist. they refer to me as distinguished. i went prematurely gray. thank you very much to all the friends have come out here tonight. and my publishers who took a leap of faith and publishing this book and i realized just
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how big a leap they had taken when they came back to me saying why are there so many names ending in h. although i was pleased to see initially the first bestseller under european politics and when i saw that number two with a hitler. you know what the publishers said, there are too many and really says so much about the problem of the west and western intervention and the balkans. perhaps it's because so many games ended in h and it all seems a very complicated that it took three years to intervene and stop that war. it was my hope that this book to
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breakthrough that terrier and focus on what is universal from this story which is the issue of mass atrocities, the issue of international humanitarian law and the enforcement of that law which is one of the toughest problems in foreign-policy then and now. as bradley said i was involved during the war and afterwards my colleagues who were there and i were astonished after the war when there were 64,000 troops in bosnia and they didn't go after these people who had been indicted for some of the worst crimes since the nazi air out. they actually made a point of avoiding going after them. in fact policy only changed
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after he left the region but i kept tabs on it and the rest, gathered momentum and finally they got down to the big fish, radovan karadzic they got in 2008 and finally they got that last guy ratko mladic. i wrote a magazine piece at the time because it was striking that there was a u.n. mission that was completed. they had 161 names on their list and they finally completed it. and in doing a short magazine story it occurred to me what became evident to me there was a much bigger story that hadn't been told one of their fast sprawling manhunt. if you talked to intelligence and special forces people who
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were in the business in the late 90s up to 9/11 more than likely they would have been involved in that manhunt one way or another. it was the biggest deployment of special forces since 9/11. there were layers of secrecy because it involves intelligence and special forces but also it was interrupted midway through by 9/11 and all attention was focused on the war on terror. which this manhunt directly segued into the people who were looking for the war criminals in bosnia went out immediately and went to afghanistan and went to iraq. the first renditions were from seri a vote, people that been
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involved in the manhunt like the hotel hollywood had picked up h.r. damien and an egyptian and as far as they know a few days after 9/11 they were the first people to undergo rendition to their respective countries. i've been trying to find out what happened to them since. but i did find the man had an extraordinary story from the very beginning. the first operation, arrest operation specifically for the hague war crimes tribunal was called operation little flower which was a pickup team, and next multinational team under the u.n. flag which is in that way showed all the best of the u.n.. it was a group of people brought together serving eight diplomat,
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an american diplomat journal, an american prosecutor, a british british -- a czech, site detective and a polish special forces unit. they concocted this elaborate sting operation to lure one of the war criminals over the border so they could be arrested and they did so pretty much without the approval of their own government. this act of maverick act opened the floodgates because until then nato who were in bosnia did want to get involved. they call that mission creep to go out to the criminals. they said to keep the peace and they didn't want to do anything else. after that it became much harder to make the argument that was
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far too dangerous for our troops and a bunch of u.n. officials and some untried unknown polish soldiers. so they set up a joint operation in stuttgart the u.s. invades france germany and the netherlands and the original idea was to have both multinational big multinational sweep and pick up everything -- everyone pretty much at the same time. involving going into serb headquarters with guns blazing. it was never clear to me what they would do this and they created an operation but it was never put to the test because the whole thing was torpedoed by an espionage scandal that came
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to be known as the -- of french major whose job it was to go up and down from seri about two holiday and the cia became convinced the flow of information was going the wrong way and giving away far more information than he was collecting. clark comes plain about him and he was recalled to paris in debriefed that the french hierarchy sent him back and it occurred to the u.s. intelligence officers on the ground that maybe this wasn't an individual act that it was a french format force protection and they would go in and have a
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sweep and be looking so if you don't wanted a job you might want to stay out of that area. the end result, but he ended up leaving seri about eventually because a young woman came into sarajevo and complained she had been sexually assaulted by him and this was presented to the french generals. he was asked within hours of leaving his clothing and possessions behind him whether he's set up for whether this was something there remained unclear but the end result was he was out and the franco-american military intelligence relations are very much soured for the
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following years. after that it didn't count for anything but everyone went their own way and the british started off with a dozen or press ringing with them a rough edged technique that they had effected in northern ireland. then the dutch who were operating under the guilt of having been a soldier who was supposed to protect its revenue and then you have the u.s. who learned man hunting techniques they are that they would take into the war on terror. and he had the germans who went into action for the first time since the second world war and their first casualties since the war in this manhunt. finally the french the most reluctant whose first timeout turned out to be wrote this asked her.
quote
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they kill the guy and almost killed a bunch of kids who were traveling with him and then went on to capture one of the biggest prices of all. so by the time of 9/11 when everyone was shipped out to afghanistan and iraq a lot of the small fry had been hoovered up but what that meant the people lead given the orders had gotten away. the small fry were being picked up. they fled to serbia and croatia where they found safe haven and the next stage in the manhunt was about putting the pressure on those governments in belgrade to do the hunting themselves and economic pressure. ultimately the big fish were only arrested when there was a
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fundamental little change in those countries and those countries intelligence. what i will do as they will. an excerpt about them, the finals when karadzic was arrested in 2008 after the political changes that happen. so by 2008 radovan karadzic was the most wanted man in the greatest embarrassment. the former psychiatrist and poet had bought death camps mass executions and genocide back to the continent and fool themselves into thinking it left such abominations behind. the atrocities in bosnia drawn indiscretions of horror and outrage in the capitals of europe yet did it taken three years to stop the killing and 12 more years to sit by in which
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the west combined intelligence agencies supposedly stretched every venue to find the perpetrator. yet karadzic and high priest of ethnic cleansing remained at large and every day he was at liberty called into question the worlds judgment on the killings that had failed -- the pursuit of radovan karadzic have been marked by betrayals and near misses and the negotiations over the surrender if he spy and the consequent long-running franco-american -- followed by a series of wood the american ambushes that the fugitive managed to avoid either by wind luck tip off her highly sensitive note of danger. this was a frustrating state of affairs in early 2008. lock for once abandoned the
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fugitive in favor of his pursuers. one of the many dormant phone numbers on the dia the serb intelligence agency lists after four years of silence. more interesting still the person using the card in question was brought up on's younger brother. he was a blustering smalltime businessmen preoccupied with defending himself against charges of killing a young woman in a drunk driving incident in 2005 but who was luke calling? the voice on the other end of the phone was unfamiliar to the eavesdroppers. it was mail, high-pitched with the belgrade accent is stilted perfunctory conversation that told them nothing more. investigators were sent to take a look at the address to which the phone number was registered to they returned having discovered his name was -- as somewhat eccentric character who
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lived in one of the highrise. apartment blocks that lined the street named in honor of the first man in space in the shabby remains of the concrete socialist dreams that would be belgrade about the bushy white eared and glasses he sported a top not tied with a black bow perched distractingly on a snowy hair. he made a living as a new age mission offering spiritual cures for everyday maladies. and the world of operative medicine he was a minor celebrity a part-time gig representing tel aviv to and a joint project with the well-known rejuvenating the of infertile men. he claimed the sluggish would start musing -- moving faster -- it seemed an unlikely accordance for hard drinking heritage who
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had hitherto shown little interest in alternative lifestyles. the dia offices dug a little deeper and the more they looked into the life of this white-haired shaman stranger appeared. according to his identity records that came from a town called wormer west of belgrade halfway to the courage and border but there was one wearing discrepancy. there was another with the same date of birth. this version looked nothing like the looming figure in belgrade. he was a former conjunction worker with short gray hair and a chirping mustache. he barely strayed more than five miles from his current birthplace in his entire life and didn't own a mobile phone. the records show only one that he had been born in the 1940s so one of these two men was clearly an imposter.
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there were other aspects which fit the lifestyle of the spiritual -- he used some of them to make contact with serb nationalist campaigning against the hague tribunal. an officer was sent back to hang around and take a closer look stroke length pass them in the road. he returned with a startling question. perhaps he was not the mysterious link to radovan karadzic the surveillance team suspected. he shaved his beard and remove the glasses he could be karadzic himself but by this time word had reached he was being watched. according to his lawyer the fugitive began to spot unfamiliar faces in mid-july rushing past him on the
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stairwell at his favorite are, the madhouse. the endgame has begun in which the fugitive king was running out to shield himself. he wasn't prepared to simply wait for them to come knocking on his door and tell the bia surveillance team sounded the alarm after seeing two identified men and apartment with large bags and it look like the old man was getting to run. the next evening he left in that light the t-shirt and abroad rand straw hat pulled over his space. he was weighed down with baggage a shopping basket and a knapsack he walked to a nearby bus stop where he was discreetly joined by one of his cia trackers. they boarded the number 73 bus bound for the suburb eight miles
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to the northwest. he said neither front of. as he lumbered through the streets from the concrete house of belgrade into the old richer and lee feared district takes eccentric character known as radovan karadzic in his last minutes of the long-running performance put on his clear glass spectacles and opened the spiritual text. through the window turning gold in the light of a balkan summer evening. the comments contrasted with hectic activity in the surrounding streets triggered by his sudden departure from belgrade paid the new chief has set up a plan in motion. a few stops in the greenbelt
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around belgrade patrol car student on the bus and got out, two in the front desk got on, tune up front and two in the back. they made their way to the sea posing as inspectors -- inspector showing their badges and asking for tickets. the old man men of straw hat was reaching for a spare 20 belt the policeman's grip around his arm. radovan karadzic, no it's radovan karadzic the policeman insisted to are your superiors aware of what you are doing? >> s. foley he replied. the officer ordered the driver to stop the bus and he was exported -- escorted onto the broad choate. in 9:30 p.m. on july 18, 2008 the flamboyant radovan karadzic evaporated.
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his place the ghost of radovan karadzic that haunted the balkans for a decade or a material lies on the belgrade roadside as an old man distraught hat askew clutching a white plastic tag to his. three years later ratko mladic had become isolated by this time in a farmhouse and although the most ruthless of men was given away by a moment of sentimentality. they were following his son who went to that village because he had several -- and during this visit two of have the czech grandchildren walked into the courtyard of a house which was as far as a new empty and the
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grandchildren stood in the courtyard for several minutes and then left and they all went to the family party. there's a small room who pretty much in his underwear ratko mladic. the reason he was called he wouldn't be able to talk to them but they want to see them. and a few months later the last man radovan karadzic was caught in the woods in northern serbia bringing to an end the 17 year manhunt. the lessons from the manhunt
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were technical. one of the special forces said everything we did in iraq and afghanistan we learned in bosnia. they learned small and big and they learned how to use drums and they learned how to integrate intelligence. the bigger lesson from my point of view was taken away from this experience was the realization that it's never enduring without justice. the generals are waiting in bosnia and resisted any talk of mission creep learned after year that it wasn't working and by leaving the war criminals at
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large was undermining the peace process and the whole idea of returning people to their homes and reintegrating the country but being sabotaged by this country. painfully after many months they learned this lesson and enduring peace had to be accompanied by some measure of justice. but in a way my impression is those lessons have been overlooked in this forgotten manhunt. the strength of the international criminal court which is in a way the legacy of the hague tribunal has been undermined to the point where nobody really functions in africa which is a problem in itself. humanitarian law and its enforcement but i think in the
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present situation if you think the enforcement of international humanitarian law is expensive you should try because in a way situation in syria and the growth of da'ish isis outcroppings of the commission of mass atrocities by murderous regimes that have gone forward with impunity. this book if it has any policy purpose is to demonstrate there is an alternative to that route and that enforcement to humanitarian law is not idealistic. it has been done and it has worked. thanks very much. [applause]
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>> thank you for coming. looking at the situation now 20 years out from the peace accords, more than 20 years out. what do you think of the situation in general in the balkans and in general in europe with the refugee crisis, the increasing threat from terrorism do you think there's a possibility that it could happen again and spread? ..
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divided bosnia and ethnic lines and made it difficult to succeed politically. if you don't fly the ethnic flag. that has deepened the division and made it hard to function as a state as contributed to paralysis and the highest unemployment rate in the world by figures. no, i don't don't think it will lead to war like we saw in the 90s because they have had enough and because i think europe cannot a allow it at this time. but that does not mean that everything is fine. it's a festering sore. it is remarkable to me there is not more jihadists coming out of both because it's a miserable place. many of the muslim citizens have
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to live in a situation where what happened to them is being denied by their neighbors and they're not allowed to talk about it. people who went back or not allowed to talk about what happened if they want to get along. so it amazes me there is not a bigger jihadist threat. isis is trying very hard to have very high-end production videos aimed at the area to recruit people. i don't think europe is going to get away with it for much longer. it may not be warlike we saw in the mid- 90s but it will not be pretty. >> i teach at georgetown but it is unclear to me why the united states is so anti- i see c.
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the icc, having great promise it seems to me even now, do you have any insight as to why the united states has taken such an in transient position for the success of the icc? >> it seems to me as a professor at georgetown you probably know better than me. clinton signed it in his last days of office to sign a promise or whether he ever expected it to go through is hard to say. as you know bush administration one of the first things they did was not simply just squelch the ratification, they went as far as to on sign it. it is a bout the idea of exceptionalism. they must never ever come a time when an american would face for injustice, even though their own
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statute that set up the icc is full of safeguards that if you have a functioning law system of any kind you won't face justice of the icc. but the mood and bush administration's why should we take the risk we are the world's most powerful country. then the price of exceptionalism means you are not creating international norms. do not creating the rule of law. you pay a longtime price but you know well the prospects of ratification of their own statute or for any major international treaty is pretty grim with congress we have here right now. >> i was wondering about your thoughts on why it took so long
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to get this process running. we're there and we saw -- these guys were running around, maybe there is a method method to the madness. they wanted things to settle down and they didn't want to go after them immediately. so why did the whole process takes a long to get started? >> that's a very good question. i think it's really hard now to go back to that mindset, the military mindset before 911. after so much blood has been spilled on and realize what a risk that was back in the 90s. it was said that if you were a general in the u.s. armed forces in that time, your chances of
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getting an extra star were minimal if you had casualties under your watch. it was the most a career destroyed thing that could happen. for that reason, as you can remember the u.s. of forces who came in as part of the international peacekeeping force , they played baseball in their flak jackets and helmets. and shots were not fired after the treaty pretty much. but it it wasn't just the u.s. it was the brits in the french, none of them wanted to risk casualties for a task that was not specifically mandated in the dayton peace agreement. as far as they were concerned they had to piece the keep the peace.
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>> a thank you much representation. the question is as a historian looking at these mass crimes a mass genocide you look at the perpetrators, victims and bystanders so my question is, how do people respond to this mass hunting? what was the response of people? >> they very much depended on who, not just the question of destiny. obviously most bosniak silver right behind it because they had been 80% of the civilian casualties of the war. there very much in support.
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the nationalists were very much against it because they saw it as feeding sovereignty and we will take care of our own issues, thank you very much. haven't just gained independence they did not want to be feeding their own sovereignty to an international court. plus they were complicit themselves. what changed is the arrival and office of people who saw the future in europe but also wanted to draw a line between those people there were responsible and the people as a whole. they did not want all crimes to be seen as being complicit and so the way to get out of that was to find the guilty men and all but one. and to have them over. that was a question of political evil.
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>> thank you very much for coming. i look for to reading your book. i am bill nash and i was the american commander in bosnia in 1995, 96. i would just like to make a couple of comments. first first of all we were not smart enough to do what was done a year later. it took the whole institution a long time to figure it all out. as i told one of the visitors we got one time asking me if i could go capture -- because he was in the american sector, i said sure. i know know where hans is, i know where the headquarters is but i don't do snatches, i have a tank division. now i can destroy than mounted and i can go in there and sort out who is left and if he is there i will hand you his body,
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or alive or dead, but i do not do snatches. you have to do it better. that is one point. the second point i would say is that having spoken to senior american political leaders, senior national leaders from all of the countries that participated, there is not a political directive to the military performance. the only thing i really take exception with what you had to say tonight was the fact that it's not up to the generals what they do, it's up to the government to tell the generals what to do. we would all sacrifice our democracy in the civilian control of the military if you were to put yourself in a position whether it be bosnia or iraq, or afghanistan, afghanistan, where the generals
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were making political decisions. so i don't excuse us for not being smarter, but i do think it was a good idea to listen to the president of the united states. >> i would say one thing, i absolutely agree and certainly before the clinton election in 96, there is absolutely no willpower at all, there are be absolutely nothing that would upset the reelection campaign. my understanding is after that they had a principal making where the -- very much to the dismay of the secretary at the time but between that time and
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would be american arrest with a gun there was a lot of internal institutional resistance because of this issue. but if we have casualties, if we sever casualties will be the one to blame i got the impression, you can correct me if i'm wrong that somewhere very much for it and then you had some people on the ground to troops would believed would bear the backlash if someone was killed or if there is a backlash to the arrest who are pushing against. >> thank you for the book and for the outstanding reporting that preceded.
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i would say there was an informed to view among some policy people, ex- government people, human rights activists in this town and some in europe that the principal actors were given, in some form immunity by in the course of the dayton negotiations. that certainly some of those figures believed they had received it. what if anything did you uncover on that front? >> while the people around there made two distinct claims about immunity. one that richard holbrook promised and a second that sheer rock had promised. when they're talking to each other you were like how could
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this happen? with hall brick, i doubt it. i can imagine a situation situation and he was a very able negotiator. i can imagine the situation but he was never stupid enough to commit himself in any way, certainly not in writing. with the french it's different. the end of the war they had two pilots who were shot down and captured. there is a long drawn out negotiations. money changed hands and that seems to be clear, some arms weapons are likely to have changed hands. it is quite possible that some soft promises would be made that would worry about the tribunal. surly not to me but french officials told a book about that
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they understood that under this rocket administration undertakings were given but they were given know they're empty because it wasn't a gift to the french. not ultimately. >> it seems like the general in the balkans now is largely been a disappointment for a variety of reasons. do you think the courts ultimately have been successful? do you think it's lived up to the effort that was put into it? >> when i call this i refer to the manhunt of getting the bodies into the court and not the decision the court then made which are controversial. there are some very
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controversial acquittals, some some very controversial ones have now been reversed. they have not covered themselves in glory. at the end it's going to the be the glass half-full sort of story. you talk to the families of the dead in bosnia they will say it took so long, so few people have had to face justice. some are already out because some of the worst criminals have faced the world's most lenient pino system. -- penal system. the idea of it not happening at all is unthinkable. some measure of justice has been done but it will never be enough for the scale of killing. it's a bit like the un. it's completely flawed. if also for itself. but if you abolished and you'd
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have to reinvent it the next day. >> to think there will be a similar manhunt one day first syrian war criminals? >> i really hope so. i know some of the people who were involved in this manhunt are now building prosecution cases so that one day they will be able to maybe prosecute people in the assad regime. and people in ice is. what they're doing is smuggling out documents to prove that these people are guilty. smuggling them out of syria and keeping them in europe and going through them and building a case that could one day convict these people. first you need a tribunal, court. for that you need the world to agree. we need the security council to
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agree. if one day there is a case there that could put them in jail. >> so by necessity the operations when they were current were secretive. how hard was it for you to ferret out what happened? how willing were the participants now to talk years later? >> i think when i took out the experience i had to get used to rejection. i would say many would tell me to go to hell. which was quite right. but a quarter of the people would say it's a story worth

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