The U.N. Takes a Hard Line on War Crimes - Plea Bargains for All
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
This story via The New York Times: Plea Deals Being Used to Clear Balkan War Tribunal's Docket
The United Nations tribunal for the war crimes in the Balkans in the 1990's is suddenly rushing through its backlog of cases, adopting a disputed strategy to promote plea bargains with much reduced sentences in exchange for cooperation and guilty pleas.But before you go and get pissed at the U.N. like I did when I read the first paragraph, you get to these bits:
The abrupt shift after seven years of methodical if plodding trials came in response to intense pressure from the United Nations Security Council and particularly the Bush administration, which pays almost a quarter of the tribunal's current $120 million annual budget and has little sympathy for such international courts. The Council has demanded that the court end all investigations next year and complete its trials by 2008.So is the rush to finish the cases interfering with Justice? You bet your ass it is.
...The plea-bargaining strategy was proposed by American lawyers on the prosecution staff. "Facilitating guilty pleas certainly makes sense from a management standpoint," said a senior prosecution official, asking not to be identified. "It's a reasonable solution to a difficult problem, how to get all our accused tried in the time available."
One lawyer at the court raised the question of whether the workload and the rush to complete it would override the interest of justice. "It never should," he said. "It's a dilemma for any court, but people are wondering if it is happening here."Should we let a guy who murdered *only* 20 people go free (or get a slap on the wrist) to ensure that the one who was responsible for 7,000 murders gets punished?