On Tuesday, the world marked the 28th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. At exactly noon, sirens sounded in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, to commemorate the ethnic cleansing that began when Bosnian Serb troops invaded Srebrenica, a supposedly protected town, on the fateful 11th of July. The memory of the crime and tragedy of that day was highlighted by many leaders on this important anniversary, but few did it with as weak a moral base as the Slovenian political leadership. The Minister of Justice, Dominika Šarc Pipan, particularly stands out, who is said to have been involved in the legal defence of the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadžić.
We have previously also reported on Nataša Pirc Musar. The Slovenian President of the Republic also remembered the victims of Srebrenica, but on the other hand, she has so far failed to remember their compatriots who lie unburied in the abysses all over Slovenia. However, the public performance of Dominika Švarc Pipan is even more problematic. Today, she tries to present herself as some kind of human rights defender. For example, on the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, she stated: “The shadows of Srebrenica will haunt us until the end of our days.”
To this, she added the account of Judge Fouad Riad of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, who wrote: “Scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.” The Minister’s account would not have attracted much attention if it had not been for the cooperation of Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan with the law firm Drolec Sladojević, which defended Radovan Karadžić.
One of the founders of the law firm, Marko Sladojević, has a history of being quite excited about the war criminal in question. He told the Serbian media that defending Karadžić was like playing for Real Madrid and also that Karadžić “is Satanised by the Western media, as he is a perfectly ordinary man”! He also never hid his enthusiasm for the business. “Why would someone who has been a politician at the top for 15 years want me as his advocate. It was incredible – like in a movie! The other day I was watching him on TV, and today, I am his defender,” he admitted in the past.
Sladojević also told the media outlet Novosti that Karadžić did not change his views and convictions even during his trial and imprisonment: “He did not change his political ideals. In 2015, he is still the man he was in the 1990s […] He is full of optimism and enthusiasm.”
More than 8,000 men, including minors, died in the Srebrenica genocide in 1995. The crime was committed by the Bosnian Serb forces (the Army of Republika Srpska) under the command of Ratko Mladić. The Scorpions, a paramilitary unit from Serbia, also took part in the killings. 25,000 women and children were forcibly expelled from the area. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia labelled the event as genocide, a verdict subsequently upheld by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The defence was unsuccessful
Radovan Karadžić’s defence was ultimately unsuccessful. In 2016, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for genocide and other war crimes. He was proven guilty on 10 of the 11 counts. In 2019, the Hague Court increased his sentence to life imprisonment. He began serving his sentence in Dutch prisons before being transferred to the United Kingdom. Karadžić opposed the transfer on the grounds of security. Namely, former Serbian general Radislav Krstić, who had previously been transferred to the UK, survived an attack by an Islamic extremist who slit his throat in Wakefield prison. The UK authorities admitted to the incident and awarded him £50,000 in compensation, the Guardian reported at the time.
The Minister’s excuses
Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan recently defended herself online: “I was a prosecutor. You do not have to believe everything that other people say. Besides – a quality defence is a key part of a fair trial, only in such a process can justice be done.” Investigative journalist Bojan Požar wrote some time ago that Švarc Pipan landed in the above-mentioned law firm after completing her internship in The Hague. The Minister of Justice was, therefore, certainly involved in the work and life of the firm at the time of the Karadžić trial, as is evident from social media posts. Little is known about her work in the office. Her Wikipedia page does not mention this part of her career. However, the office still lists her as part of the team on its website under the “About us” tab (HERE).
In the past, the Bosnia and Herzegovina media also picked up on the story and reported on it with a series of articles whose headlines were similar to the following: “Slovenia’s Justice Minister Candidate Participated in the Defence of the Criminal Karadžić.”
Some time ago, we asked the Supreme Court judge Jan Zobec for a comment, who said before the Minister was sworn in that this kind of work should not disqualify a lawyer from becoming the Minister of Justice. “However, in the case of a potential minister, it does bring a certain bad taste. But I do not find it that burdensome. In fact, in this case, I find it difficult to make a decisive statement.”