Milan Martic (right) with General Radovan Karadzic (left) in 1994 (c) BBC News
On Monday, a court in Zagreb, Croatia, issued a European Arrest Warrant demanding the extradition of Serbian General Milan “Mile” Martic to stand trial in Croatia for shelling the towns of Karlovac and Jastebarsko near Zagreb in May 1995. During the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Martic was interior minister, defence minister and president of the self-proclaimed Autonomous Region of Krajina located in the south of Croatia near the Bosnian border.
Martic is currently in Estonia serving a 35-year sentence of imprisonment for war crimes committed against non-Serbs in Croatia for which he was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 2007. The ICTY concluded that Martic’s activities resulted in the expulsion of all Croatians and non-Serbs from the areas which were under his control.
Croatia had originally indicted Martic for war crimes in 2003 alongside Serbian military leader Milan Celeketic. However, authorities did not decide to proceed with the case against Martic until 2010 when it became clear that the ICTY would not prosecute Martic for the shelling of the towns.
Estonian authorities have requested time to consider the possibility of handing over Martic. Croatian authorities have indicated that the trial will go ahead regardless of the decision of the Estonian authorities.
New York court begins today jury selection in the trial of Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, known as Abu Hamza al-Masri. Abu Hamza is facing 11 terrorism charges, including providing support to al-Qaeda and trying to set up an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon.
Islamic cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri Photo: EPA
Facts of the case date back to the late 1990s, when Abu Hamza allegedly conspired to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, to arrange for others to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan, and to ensure there was satellite phone service for hostage takers in Yemen in 1998 who abducted two American tourists and 14 others. Three Britons and an Australian were killed then as the Yemeni military attempted to rescue the hostages.
At a pre-trial hearing last week, Abu Hamza declared that the will testify on his own behalf, telling US district judge Katherine Forrest “I think I am innocent. I need to go through it, have a chance to defend myself.” Prosecution evidence mainly include media interviews and recordings of Abu Hamza’s weekly speeches at Finsbury Park mosque (London).
Abu Hamza was first arrested in the United Kingdom in 2004 where he was found guilty of 11 charges, including encouraging the murder of non-Muslims, and intent to stir up racial hatred. Abu Hamza was sentenced to seven years in prison.
The same year of his conviction, the United States requested Abu Hamza’s extradition. Following a legal battle, the European Court of Human Rights finally authorized extradition after it was given assurances by the United States that Abu Hamza would neither be designated as enemy combatant (with the consequences that that entailed, such as the death penalty) nor subjected to extraordinary rendition. Abu Hamza was extradited on 6 October 2012. He appeared before the New York court on 9 October and pleaded not guilty to the 11 charges.