Graham Blewitt: Washington controls, and NATO pays for the ICTY
TARGETS - September 2004


Written by Nico Varkevisser

In June of this year the Deputy Chief Prosecutor if the ICTY, Graham Blewitt, resigned. On June 19 the Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad, published a large article about the man who has worked for the Tribunal since the very beginning. The article is based on four interviews and it is revealing in many ways. Blewitt did not only express publicly his aversion for Carla Del Ponte, who he accused of putting him on the sidelines, withholding important material surrounding herself with a group of French speaking collaborators; he also gave a clear and revealing insight in the close relationship between NATO and the ICTY, and how NATO-countries use the ICTY as their instrument.


‘Nazi hunter’

Blewitt presents himself as a man very qualified for the job of Prosecutor at the ICTY, because of his experience as ‘Nazi hunter’. Apart from the fact that he has a rather poor record as ‘Nazi hunter’ – he admits that his work as head of a special Australian unit to investigate war criminals from World War II, was heavily obstructed by the Australian government, so that out of 840 suspects only 3 persons were brought to trial, and none were convicted – the use of this self proclaimed title only serves to maintain one of the biggest and most monstrous objectives of the ICTY: to portray the Serbs as the new Nazis.

Who the real Nazis in reality are, becomes clear out of the mouth of this same ‘Nazi hunter’. “Out of the 840 suspects, 24 came from Yugoslavia. When we heard the witnesses on these suspects, we noticed the feelings of injustice because they were not brought before a court of law. Among these 24 there were some of the most notorious criminals who, even before the war in Yugoslavia started, were working from Australia for a ‘Free Croatia’.”

According to Blewitt old Croatian fascists in Australia participated in a sinister plan to break up the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Further, according to Blewitt, some witnesses - Croats and Serbs - said that they would send their sons to Yugoslavia if it would come to a war, to revenge the crimes committed in World War II. “That is what they did, Croats and Serbs from Australia jointed the paramilitary groups in Bosnia and committed terrible crimes.”

That is quiet a different picture than the ICTY usually gives. The overall majority of the accused are Serbs and the ICTY, NATO, and their media continually depict the Serbs as the new Nazis, and the main culprits responsible for the outbreak of the war. It is essentially the aim of the so-called trial against President Milosevic, to be able to punish the Serbs in length of years. Blewitt, who must know the names of these Croat fascists and their crimes, said nothing about weather the ICTY plans to indict them. We can assume they will not.


In a hurry

Blewitt has acted differently when it comes to Serbs. He describes his first time at the ICTY as being poorly organised and understaffed. Blewitt was, according to his own words, very concerned about this situation and was “in a hurry”. Bypassing all UN procedures and regulations regarding the hiring of new staff, Blewitt contacted people he knew from the network of ‘Nazi hunters’, and brought prosecutors and investigators from Australia, Scotland, England, the US and Canada to The Hague. The list of countries is interesting and it shows in what kind of network Blewitt was operating. Unlike the countries of the former Soviet Union and Israel for example, these countries, like Australia, show a poor record in bringing Nazis to trial. The US in particular is known for giving a safe heaven to Nazis.

With his fellow ‘Nazi hunters’ Blewitt designed the strategy. That strategy was to start as quickly as possible. “We had to come up as soon as possible with an indictment. We had to make an arrest as soon as possible. The public wanted it and also the judges, who were doing nothing for months. The machinery had to be set in motion,” according to Blewitt.

Lucky for Blewitt Germany had a suspect in detention, the Bosnian Serb Dusko Tadic. According to Blewitt he was not a big criminal and would normally not brought before the Tribunal, since they wanted only the ‘big fishes’. Bad luck for Tadic, but Blewitt decided to start with any ‘fish’, especially the small ones, so he was brought to The Hague and got 20 years imprisonment. Asked if he had no problem with what he did, Blewitt answers: “No, I have no problems with that. This institute needed urgently a case to become credible. Dusko Tadic was more a sort of a symbol.” However his ‘conviction’ to 20 years in jail is not symbolic.


Washington controls

Blewitt’s strategy was heavily criticised. The judges of the Tribunal wanted an indictment of the political and military leaders. They felt bored to preside cases against only policemen. “The judges were mainly preoccupied with themselves and their own role”, says Blewitt.   

This criticism continues to today. Blewitt says that the Americans are expressing more and more their discontent. The tribunal is said to have indicted too many 'little' criminals, which allegedly has cost too much time and money. Last year the UN cut the budget for the tribunal by about 20 million dollars. According to Blewitt, the Americans as well as the British, want to close the doors of the ICTY, in one way or another. “Because it is too expensive,” Blewitt stated, adding that the British want future trials in the recently established International Criminal Court (ICC).

Blewitt says that In the past the US provided major support for the Tribunal, and he inadvertently gives revealing examples of how the Americans controlled the Tribunal. According to Blewitt, the Americans agreed with the choices made by the tribunal for a long time. In 1994, when he urgently needed employees, the American government sent twenty-two people to The Hague, to work for free.

Blewitt was very happy with them. According to him some of them knew a lot about the Balkans and did research there. “However,” as he is bluntly stating, “they did not only come to assist. The US also wanted to know what was happening inside the tribunal.”

“Once, I have tested them,” Blewitt continues. “We had a reorganisation and people had to move to other rooms. I placed the Americans at the end of the corridor. They protested by saying: ‘But now we can no longer see who is visiting the chief prosecutor’. We all laughed. They didn't make a secret of the fact that they frequently visited their embassy. Sometimes they said ‘I have to leave early, since I have to go to the embassy’, but since we didn't pay their salary, we had no control over them."


NATO pays

According to Blewitt, other countries also sent staff members and material, like computers, even direct payments. The Tribunal received money for ‘special projects’, like the search for mass graves in Kosovo.

Investigators of the Tribunal have told NRC Handelsblad that NATO gave money for a special project: An investigation in to possible war crimes committed in Macedonia in 2001. NATO wanted this to be the moment that they took control over Macedonia. According to Blewitt the crimes were not very ‘impressive’ and the Tribunal would investigate it. Blewitt said, “We told them [NATO] we are very busy and we do not have the resources. They must come from you”.

According to investigators of the Tribunal, the donations which amounted to 700,000 Euros, came from several NATO-member states. Graham Blewitt calls this: "a normal budget procedure". An investigation team for Macedonia was eventually established and this will, according to Blewitt, result in at least one indictment in the course of this year.

Asked whether it is odd that the tribunal is investigating war crimes on request and being paid for it, Blewitt responds: “You may have that opinion, but this inquiry is within our mandate, and our presence there has had a deterring effect.”

Blewitt also mentioned cases in which NATO-countries deliberately refused to co-operate with the Tribunal. The Dutch government for example, who refused to let Tribunal officials be present at the debriefing of the Dutch troops after the fall of Srebrenica. “It was very clear that the Dutch were acting in damage control, they were of the opinion that we had nothing to do with it”, Blewitt says. He still is not sure if the Tribunal has all the relevant information. Blewitt: “Material has been destroyed, a film with photos. We never believed it was an accident. That would be very unprofessional. I think it is a part of the cover-up”.

What kind of cover-up? That the whole story of 7000 Muslims killed by the Serbs is a lie? The fact is that the Dutch commander, before the debriefing, spoke in very positive words about the attitude of the Bosnian-Serbian troops. “They behaved correctly.” But after the debriefing he was forced to shut up.   



Apart from the gossip about the internal intrigue, Blewitt’s main frustration could be read in the title of the NRC article: ‘The politicians let Karadzic walk free’.

Blewitt has refused to work as prosecutor in Iraq. He wants to go back to Australia. The Australian Labour Party has promised that if they win the next election they will prosecute war criminals from recent conflicts. The same Labour Party that stopped the prosecution of war criminals from World War II in 1994. But these criminals still had a mission to fulfil on the battlefields of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Blewitt says he is very much willing to co-operate. Unfortunately the real culprits behind these conflicts, as well as old and new fascists can be assured that Graham Blewitt will not be "fishing" for them.  

Published in TARGETS, monthly paper on International affairs, September 2004
Posted for Fair Use only.