Notify me of new HIR pieces!

HIR mailing list

Murder at the Hague?
An investigation into the alleged suicide of
Slavko Dokmanovic

Historical and Investigative Research - 14 March 2006
by Francisco Gil-White


1  |  2  |  3  |  4 

  The Tribunal’s Official Inquiry


The Tribunal authorities supposedly conducted an inquiry into Dokmanovic’s death. This ‘inquiry’ was entrusted to one Judge Almiro Rodrigues, whose final report was presented on 21 July 1998 and subsequently published on the Tribunal’s website.[9] As we shall see, rather than resolve the absurdities I have documented, Rodrigues’ report introduces fresh ones.

In fact, it reads like a guilty confession.

Let's look at how Rodrigues summarized his inquiry's ‘findings.’ 

[Excerpt From Hague Tribunal Report]

Findings Of The Inquiry:

1. Dokmanovic was suffering from depression and, for that reason, was under particular medical care;  

2. From about 23 June 1998, Mr. Dokmanovic was checked every half-hour, during low service hours;

[End Excerpt]  

What is the Tribunal telling us here?

The Tribunal claims that Dokmanovic was under medical care for depression. And starting a week before his death, we are told, he was closely monitored. The two words apparently missing from points 1 and 2 are ‘suicide watch.’ Why are they omitted?

[Back to The Hague Tribunal’s Report]

3. Under the rules of the Detention Unit, a detainee may keep in his possession all clothes and personal items for his own use or consumption unless, in the opinion of the Commanding Officer or the General Director, such items constitute a threat to the security or good order of the detention unit or the host prison, or to the health or safety of any person therein;

4. This is the reason why items such as cutlery, ties, shoe laces, electric and manual razors, electric cables, are among those commonly found in a detainee’s cell and were found in Mr. Dokmanovic’s as well;

[End Quote]

We can appreciate the fix the Tribunal is in. They must blame Dokmanovic's death on one person only: Dokmanovic. Therefore, on the one hand, Dokmanovic must appear suicidal in order to preempt the argument that he was murdered, and he must have the proper equipment handy in order to short the lights in his cell and hang himself. But on the other hand, the word 'suicidal' must be avoided at all costs, because if Dokmanovic was suicidal, why wasn't he on suicide watch?

Thus Dokmanovic supposedly was getting “particular medical care” because he was “suffering from depression.” This avoids using the actual word, ‘suicide,’ while suggesting that he had suicidal tendencies.

In the same way, elsewhere in the report we are told that Dokmanovic was given “one of the highest levels of supervision other than the 24-hour watch by closed circuit TV.” In other words, not the highest level of supervision because that, of course, would be a suicide watch (and how could he succeed in killing himself if he was watched 24 hours a day?)

The Tribunal tries to walk a line so thin that it cuts into the flesh. If the Tribunal did not consider Dokmanovic to be at risk, why were they checking him every half-hour? And if they did think he was at risk, why did they leave him with "cutlery, ties, shoe laces, electric and manual razors, [and] electric cables" -- everything but a sawed-off shotgun and some hemlock -- in his cell?

I point out that the Hague Tribunal had been trying to walk this impossible line from the very beginning. Tribunal spokesperson Chartier at first said that Dokmanovic had supposedly tried to commit suicide before,[9a] and that tribunal officials were [supposedly] familiar with Dokmanovic's medical records, his depression and his regular meetings with a psychiatrist. And yet Chartier had the nerve to say, at the same time, that he [Dokmanovic] was not known to us [the Tribunal] as a suicide candidate.

What the Tribunal is now giving us in this official report is a similar prevarication. The only difference is that there is no longer any mention here of supposed earlier suicide attempts in Rodrigues' report. Apparently this is because if the report makes too explicit the allegation that Dokmanovic had a suicidal past, then the Tribunal incriminates itself. Why? Because if Dokmanovic indeed was so clearly suicidal then why didn't the Tribunal put him under 24-hour surveillance when he again became depressed? That would be criminal negligence...

For all of Rodrigues' fancy footwork, however, the line he tries to walk still vanishes beneath his feet.

[Back to The Hague Tribunal’s Report]

5. On the night from 28 to 29 June 1998, after 10.00 p.m, Mr. Dokmanovic twice attempted to commit suicide by trying to cut his veins with a razor blade and by attempting to hang himself using a tie;

6. These attempts were not visible to the guards checking his cell. This check consists of opening the little window on the cell door and looking through it into the cell. If the guard notices something unusual or abnormal, he must call at least one other guard to be present before opening the cell door itself. On the date in question, nothing unusual was detected until midnight;

[End Quote]

In what universe does a detention facility carry out 'checks' on a prisoner that are so pathetically inadequate that the guards doing the checking don't notice that a prisoner has cut his veins with a razor blade? And again, why would somebody who was being checked every half-hour be left with a razor? And why did we hear nothing about the razor blade suicide attempt -- a dramatic detail -- before...?

Mutually contradictory nonsense: Dokmanovic was under special monitoring but was left with a razor; he slashed his veins but nobody noticed. There is a reason for this: you are to get the following point: Dokmanovic was so determined to commit suicide that he just kept trying! With such determination, how could the Hague Tribunal authorities stop him?

The hidden message: nobody's fault.

[Back to The Hague Tribunal’s Report] 

7. Between 11.30 p.m. and 00.05 a.m., Mr. Dokmanovic short-circuited the general power supply of his cell by placing the two extreme prongs of a fork (the middle prongs of which had been deliberately bent) into one of the wall sockets. He did that in order to avoid the regular half-hour guards checking his cell;

[End Quote]

Notice that, once again, the story has been changed. Previously, Tribunal officials told the media -- repeatedly -- that Dokmanovic shorted the light with his electric razor. Now he did it with a fork.


Also note that the report explains Dokmanovic's motive for, supposedly, shorting the light: "He did that in order to avoid the regular half-hour guards checking his cell."

There are three problems with this.

First, how could The Hague investigators possibly know Dokmanovic's motive for this supposed act? Did they ask him? Remember, he is dead.

Second, notice that, as I speculated earlier, the Tribunal authorities wish us to believe that Dokmanovic shorted the light to avoid detection. As I pointed out, shorting a light -- especially when one is under a special order to keep lights on 24 hours a day -- is a way to guarantee detection, not to avoid it. But The Hague people carry this absurd logic one step further, saying that Dokmanovic shorted the lights "to avoid the regular half-hour guards checking his cell."

Think about that one.

The man is supposedly being medicated for depression. His lights are kept on 24 hours a day and he's checked every half-hour. The guard comes by for the regular check and sees that Dokmanovic's lights are off. According to the Tribunal, finding the lights off could reasonably be expected to keep this guard from checking what is happening in Dokmanovic's cell!

Do these Tribunal people think they can say anything, no matter how crazy, and people will just nod and believe it?

Finally, if we assume that Dokmanovic did short his lights, as they tell us, then why in the world didn't the Tribunal guards immediately rush to check what was happening in his cell?

ğğ Continue to part 4:

Footnotes and Further Reading

[9] http://www.un.org/icty/bulletin21-e/dokman.htm

[9a] “Although tribunal officials were familiar with Dokmanovic's medical records, his depression and his regular meetings with a psychiatrist, ‘he was not known to us as a suicide candidate,’ Chartier said. However, Chartier disclosed on Monday that there had been a ‘previous incident’ last year in which Dokmanovic was placed under tighter supervision that included surveillance cameras in his cell. He refused to elaborate.” AP Worldstream, June 29, 1998; Monday 09:44 Eastern Time; SECTION: International news; LENGTH: 663 words; HEADLINE: AP Photos AMS101-102; BYLINE: JENIFER CHAO; DATELINE: THE HAGUE, Netherlands







































































































Notify me of new HIR pieces!

HIR mailing list