Comments: 2
Thank you. Sending someone to prison for life or a handful of years for mass murder/genocide just doesn't sit well with me. It doesn't bring the dead back and I somehow doubt it detters others in power from doing the same thing. Prisons can be more or less "pleasant" depending on which one, but still.
*Nothing* can bring back the dead -- that's why it's so important to *prevent* this sort of thing from happening in the first place. Stop the arms race, for crying out loud -- in particular, stop exporting arms into areas where conflict and war crimes are imminent.

But (even leaving aside that the U.N. and the vast majority of its member countries are opposed to the death penalty) executing the perpetrators of these crimes would have turned them into instant martyrs and fueled the flames even more, because people in that particular region have literally been at each other's throats for centuries -- to the Serbs, the 1389 Kosovo polje battle is as painfully present as if it had happened last week, and it's no wonder that even today, the Kosovo is the one area that still has the highest contingent of violent incidents. -- Even putting their perceived "national heroes" on trial was something that a large part of the (particularly Serb and Kosovar, but in part also Croat and Bosnian) population resented big time; the Haglund team were really dependent on U.N. / IFOR protection of their lives and limbs, not merely of their excavation sites (it's also no wonder they were given accommodation in a military camp; nor am I surprised to learn that their private Bosnian security providers were intimidated and scared away). Also, unlike in Rwanda, there would have been no way that the trials could have been held in the region as such -- their security just couldn't have been guaranteed, and what imperfect security there would have been would have come at an enormous cost (not only in $$$ figures). Even after the Dayton Peace Accord, the entire former Yugoslavia essentially remained one giant powder keg.

The Dayton approach -- demilitarization, trials of the major perpetrators (including heads of state) with the possibility to impose substantial prison terms, reconciliation and rebuilding of communities on the ground, and finally step-by-step integration of the former warring countries into the European Union (where they have to coexist peacefully) -- was an extremely finely-tuned combination of measures, where putting a step even a fraction out of the way would have had instant disastrous consequences. It may still be an imperfect solution, but as both the Balkans and, even more so, Rwanda have shown, it's really the only way forward. The alternative is what we can see every day in the Middle East -- perpetual war, destruction, and loss of hundreds of thousands or even millions of lives, as well as the destruction of entire countries; not merely the destruction of houses and businesses but also a lasting effect on the land as such, which may end up being unfit for agriculture for a long time to come. -- I'll take a life sentence for a monster like Radovan Karadžić over that prospect any day of the week.

[TA steps of soap box. :) ]