Observations on International Justice The Hague tribunal for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland and the Madrid train bombings in Spain have all resulted in closely watched trials that tested the boundaries of international justice.
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Observations on International Justice

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Observations on International Justice

Observations on International Justice

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Over the past decade, reporter Jerome Socolovsky has covered war crimes proceedings at The Hague, the trial for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and most recently the trial for the Madrid train bombings, which ended in a verdict this week.

In this Reporter's Notebook, he reflects on those proceedings.

JEROME SOCOLOVSKY: Seven years ago, I covered a horrific trial at The Hague War Crimes Tribunal. One woman after another testified about how they've been systematically raped during the Bosnian War. One victim took the stand and said she'd been sexually assaulted more than a hundred times during a six-week internment period.

Unidentified Woman: I simply cannot think about these things because I was - I was exposed to so much torture. But I'm proud to be here. Let the world know what they did.

SOCOLOVSKY: Let the world know what they did. Those words resonated with me. The victim of such a horrendous crime could feel power over her former tormentors. It seemed that this was the essence of the international justice that had been promised at the Nuremberg trials.

But my optimism was moderated by two trials I covered later. One of those trials began a month later, 13 years after the Lockerbie bombing. A whole Scottish court had been moved to the Netherlands to persuade Libyan leader, Moammar Gaddafi, to hand over the Libyan defendants. This diplomatic balancing act didn't give much voice to the victims.

Several years later, I was assigned to another trial at Spain's National Court.

Unidentified Man: (Speaking in Spanish)

SOCOLOVSKY: In the Spanish justice system, victims can appoint their own prosecuting attorneys to interrogate defendants. It seems like a great idea in theory to empower the victims.

But in reality, the main victims' group has established partisan alliances and many of the questions posed by those attorneys merely served the interests of Spanish politicians.

After the verdict, the victims spilled out of the courthouse into the bright sunshine. Adeneria Moreyda de Andrade(ph) is a Brazilian nurse. The bombing killed the baby that she was carrying in her womb. I asked her if the trial had helped ease her emotional suffering.

Ms. ADENERIA MOREYDA DE ANDRADE (Nurse): (Speaking in Spanish)

SOCOLOVSKY: No, the suffering never ends. It's there every day, every hour of the day. I'm not one to say whether this trial has resulted in true justice, but I found it severely disappointing to see it politicized in a way that may have prevented these victims from feeling a sense of closure. I wonder what the Nuremberg judges would have thought.

SIMON: Reporter Jerome Socolovsky.

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