Bosnians applaud German film on war crimes trials

Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:13am EDT
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By Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO (Reuters Life!) - Around 3,000 Bosnians sat in silence through a screening of "Storm," an English-language thriller about the trial of a fictional Serb war criminal which they said exposed some of the pitfalls of international justice.

Storm features New Zealand's Kerry Fox as a determined prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague who struggles against Serb nationalists, Brussels bureaucrats and the pressures of time.

Her case is in danger of collapsing when the court rejects a new witness to rapes allegedly committed by the suspect, bowing to pressure from officials in Brussels who are lobbied by Serb nationalists.

"To me, as a Bosnian, it was extremely important to see the way the tribunal functions," said Eldina Jasarevic, a university teacher, after the weekend screening.

"The film gave me an insight into the behind-the-scene games and made me understand for the first time how the court bargains. It shattered many illusions I had about justice."

German director Hans-Christian Schmid said the film was fictional, but included elements of cases he had studied.

He admitted he was nervous presenting the movie at the Sarajevo Film Festival, where most in the audience had lived through the 1992-95 war at the center of the plot.

Reaction was generally positive in Muslim-dominated Sarajevo, badly shelled during the Bosnian Serb siege leaving its inhabitants short of food, electricity and water.   Continued...