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UN's advisor, Finnish pathologist Dr. Helena Ranta, deliberately botched Kosovo forensic investigation

Jenin inquiry a witch hunt?
By Aleksandar Pavic   April 29, 2002

The forensic expert picked to advise the United Nations Jenin inquiry commission, charged with determining whether Israelis conducted a "massacre" there, was previously appointed by the European Union and NATO to investigate claims that a "massacre" took place in the Kosovo village of Racak in January 1999 - at which time she allegedly withheld vital information and thus helped usher in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and subsequent troop deployment in its southern Kosovo province.

Finnish pathologist Dr. Helena Ranta was named as an adviser to the three-man panel appointed by Secretary General Kofi Annan last week.

The commission was named in response to Palestinian claims of civilian slaughter and mass graves in the wake of Israel's successful search-and-destroy mission targeting terrorists and their infrastructure in several West Bank towns.

Israel decided yesterday not to grant the U.N. team access, sparking a meeting by the Security Council which decided to give Israel an additional day to reconsider.

'Crime against humanity'

Ranta, when she was head of the EU Forensic Expert Team, was engaged to investigate reports that Yugoslav armed forces slaughtered Albanian civilians in the Kosovo village of Racak on Jan. 15, 1999.

Following the forensic investigation by her team, at a March 17, 1999, news conference, Ranta referred to the Racak deaths as a "crime against humanity," charging that the "victims" were "unarmed civilians," according to BBC reports.

Despite contradictory results gathered by two other forensic teams - as well as doubts concerning the events in Racak raised by European media, including the Paris Le Monde and the London Times - one week later, NATO began its 78-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

In the midst of the campaign, on May 22, 1999, the "International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia," or ICTY, issued indictments for "Crimes against Humanity and Violations of the Laws or Customs of War" against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four of his associates for their part in the alleged Racak massacre.

Although Ranta made the charges that directly led to the NATO intervention, her team's full report was suppressed by the U.N. and the EU for a full two years, until February 2001. When it was finally published in Forensic Science International, the report revealed that there was no evidence of a massacre, even though the OSCE observer mission in Kosovo, led by U.S. diplomat William Walker, was quick to come to such a conclusion.

However, by that time, Yugoslavia had been bombed, leaving its infrastructure heavily damaged and part of its territory occupied, while its former president currently stands trial at The Hague for charges that include the Racak "massacre."

As an April 18, 1999, Washington Post article stated: "Racak transformed the West's Balkan policy as singular events seldom do."

This echoes the words of Daniel Bethlehem, a Cambridge University international legal expert and Israel's external adviser on the U.N. Jenin inquiry. As reported by Ha'aretz, in a memorandum sent to the Israeli government, Bethlehem writes: "If the committee's findings uphold the allegations against Israel - even on poor reasoning - this will fundamentally alter the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian leadership and may make it impossible for Israel to resist calls for an international force, the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state and the prosecution of individuals said to have committed the alleged acts."

Thus, the lessons of Racak and the role of Dr. Helena Ranta concerning it may be highly indicative of the direction in which the U.N. Jenin inquiry is headed.

Withheld information

As the Hague indictment against Milosevic and his associates claims: "On or about 15 January 1999, in the early morning hours the village of Racak ... was attacked by forces of the FRY (Yugoslavia) and Serbia. After shelling by ... [Yugoslavian forces] the Serb police entered the village later in the morning and began conducting house-to-house searches. Villagers who attempted to flee from the Serb police were shot throughout [Racak]. A group of approximately 25 men attempted to hide in a building, but were discovered by the Serb police. They were beaten and then were removed to a nearby hill, where the policemen shot and killed them."

In her March 17, 1999, press conference and statement, Ranta herself claimed that "... there were no indications that the people ... [autopsied were] ... other than unarmed civilians. ..."

Yet she failed to mention the fact that she had not performed forensic testing on the hands of the dead, nor the fact that it was established that the bodies were shot from various distances and directions - and none at close range, which would contradict the version that the deceased were "unarmed civilians" who were summarily executed.

Furthermore, as pointed out by Chris Soda of Yugoslaviainfo, Ranta used the Scanning Electron Microscope with an Energy Dispersive X-Ray analyzer (SEM/EDX) method, for which samples must be obtained from the skin surfaces of a victim at the scene. Any delay in obtaining residues, movement of bodies or washing can diminish or destroy gunshot residues.

Having used this method, Ranta concluded that the findings for any traces of firearms use were "negative." Yet, contrary to the standards required by the procedure, she did not start analyzing the bodies until six days after the time of death. Furthermore, according to her own admission, the bodies had been both moved and turned over during that time.

During her press conference, Ranta also made the claim that "... medicolegal investigations cannot give a conclusive answer to the question whether there was a battle [that took place]," but nevertheless concluded that the victims were non-combatants because, among other things, "... no ammunition was found in [their] pockets." She declined, however, to reveal a fact extensively recorded by various media - that the entire operation had been filmed by the AP news service and observed by the OSCE and print media reporters, whom the Yugoslav forces had actually invited to come. For on that day, Yugoslav forces were closing in on Albanian Muslim KLA terrorists who had waged numerous murder attacks against police and civilians in the previous months, and whose stronghold Racak actually was.

The AP film shows extensive footage of battle between Yugoslav and KLA forces, and there is also a great deal of published media testimony to the fact that an armed battle took place in which Yugoslav forces reported having killed "15 KLA members." Ranta never refers to this in her statement, nor does the ICTY indictment.

The OSCE observers that entered the village after the battle found no evidence of any "massacre," nor of any civilians killed, just as they received no such testimony from any of the villagers. It was not until the next day that journalists were directed by a KLA member to a gully just outside the village in which the bodies lay.

Still, many of the journalists present, such as Renaud Girard of the French Le Figaro daily, noted the absence of shell casings and blood at the "massacre site." Another French paper, Le Monde, wondered how it was possible for the Serb police to dig a trench and then kill villagers at close range while under fire by KLA forces.

The questions piled on. Yet Ranta never addressed them, and in fact ignored the evidence that would have set the context for the deaths that occurred at Racak.

Just two days later, on March 19, 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton addressed his nation in order to prepare it for the air strikes against Yugoslavia: "As we prepare to act, we need to remember the lessons we have learned in the Balkans. ... We should remember what happened in the village of Racak back in January - innocent men, women and children taken from their homes to a gully, forced to kneel in the dirt, sprayed with gunfire - not because of anything they had done, but because of who they were."

Yet, Le Figaro reported that Yugoslav police had found "1 12.7mm heavy artillery gun, 2 hand-held artillery pieces, 2 sniper rifles, and about 30 Chinese-made Kalashnikov rifles" in Racak after the battle.

In addition, another forensic team composed of Yugoslav and Belarus pathologists, whose findings were ignored by most major media, the U.N., NATO and the E.U., found that 37 of the 40 bodies discovered (not 45 as stated in the Hague indictment) had recently fired weapons, and that they had shown signs of exposure to cold, outdoor conditions - which contradicted the ICTY claim that more than half the dead had been civilians hiding in a building, whom the Yugoslav forces discovered, dragged to the ravine and then "executed."

Finally, the OSCE chairman-in-office, Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, in his own March 17, 1999, statement, wrote: "Dr. Ranta has also concluded that there is no indication of post-mortem tampering with bodies or fabrication of evidence. Furthermore, testing for gunshot residues on the victims has been negative. Minister Vollebaek notes Dr. Ranta's conclusion that there was no indication of the victims being other than unarmed civilians. On this basis the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE reiterates his statement of 16 January [which is 5 days before Dr. Ranta's team arrived to the scene], in which he condemned the Racak atrocity against innocent civilians."

In light of Ranta's controversial record, the fact that the U.N. has named her "to develop accurate information regarding recent events in the Jenin refugee camp" will no doubt be regarded as a bad omen by many Israelis.

As Israeli adviser Daniel Bethlehem said in Ha'aretz, Israel is "for all practical purposes ... faced with a war crimes investigation."

In fact, based on the precedents set by the Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in setting up the Racak indictment, it may develop that Jenin becomes the "test case" inaugurating the work of the recently instituted permanent International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. The presence of Dr. Helena Ranta makes this a likely scenario.

Aleksandar Pavic in Belgrade covers Yugoslavia for

Webmasters at Holy Land Inc., Host,  Communications & Service Providers for Projects & Events in ISRAEL.

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Pres. Bush is ready to finish
off the Security Council, too

Zev Chafets
March 11, 2003 / 7 Adar II, 5763

I have a feeling the sophisticated governments of the Old World have been set up by a Texas cowboy.

In a matter of days, the United States and its current allies will invade Iraq and capture Baghdad. It has been evident for some time that this will likely happen without the blessing of the United Nations Security Council. But in his press conference Thursday, President Bush pushed things a step further.

Russia, France, Germany in the cold in restoration of Iraq
"No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote," he

Oleg at for

said of a new resolution that would green-light an invasion. "We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council."

Why should Bush want to force a vote he could very well lose?

Some losses are victories in disguise. And Bush is getting ready to use this defeat to finish off the Security Council.

He set the trap in September. In a speech to the UN General Assembly, he challenged the body to remain "relevant" and avoid the fate of the League of Nations. His implication was clear: No international body can survive without the approval and participation of the U.S.

The Security Council responded to Bush's threat with Resolution 1441, which calls for the disarmament of Iraq. But a lot of the hands raised on behalf of the measure, which passed 15 to 0, had crossed fingers. France, Russia, China and others were betting that Bush would be mollified by a pro forma inspection regime in Iraq.

They were very wrong, because they didn't get what Bush is really after.

The President is serious about getting rid of Saddam - but only as a first strategic step in the creation of a 21st century international order. He intends to make the world safe for the U.S. and its friends by imposing a Pax Americana that is based on American values, promotes American interests and relies on American economic and military power.
Sorry brother Arafat, there has been no massacre

Under the post-9/11 Bush Doctrine, the U.S. claims the right to defang - unilaterally, and by armed preemption, if necessary - regimes and organizations that he regards as hostile and dangerous.

This is obviously an approach that can't live in harmony with an independent-minded and internationally empowered Security Council.

If the lesser powers, including the permanent members of the council, were willing to go along, the UN could serve as a convenient multilateral forum through which the U.S. would run the world by subcontracting spheres of influence and control to Russia, China, France, Germany and others.

Instead, these powers - with the exception of Great Britain - are aghast at the Bush Doctrine. Only now, more than a decade after the fall of the USSR, have they begun to internalize the meaning of the term "the world's only superpower." Their response is clearly visible - an attempt to turn the Security Council into a rival collective superpower.

Bush saw this coming, and he gave his answer Thursday: "When it comes to our security, if we need to act, we will act. And we really don't need United Nations approval to do so."

The President added that he wants the UN to be a "robust, capable body." By this he meant a body capable of following America's robust lead. If the Security Council reassesses the situation and comes around, swell. If not, well, look what happened to the League of Nations.

Governments that vote against America in the coming Security Council roll call are about to learn - if they haven't figured it out already - that America's cowboy President has led them into a genuine Texas ambush. War is coming to Iraq, but the real shootout is about to take place at the UN corral.

JWR contributor Zev Chafets is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.
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United? Nations?

David Warren  
March 17, 2003

Readers will appreciate that I have no idea at present, and suspect neither have they, what the Bush administration in the United States plans to do about the United Nations. Therefore I cannot possibly represent any present American position, public or secret. I mention this because a proportion of my readers are under the impression that I am, in the words of one, "a minor White House spokesman". This is not true; there are good reasons why they do not hire me.

For example, I am entirely opposed to what the U.S. President did this week, allowing the U.S. to be dragged down into the pit for sordid last-minute diplomatic manoeuvring in the Security Council. His purpose in doing so, as it was from the beginning in taking the whole matter of Iraq back before the U.N., was to save the British prime minister, Tony Blair's political skin. This was not a purpose

Oleg at for

good enough to justify what has since happened -- and which, as I argued months ago, would almost certainly happen. Far better to ignore the U.N., than to confer moral recognition upon the sort of interests that must be served when the U.N. is asked for support.

The concession was demoralizing, in the full and original sense of that word. By agreeing to go before the U.N., President Bush has detracted from the justice of the U.S. cause.

George Will pointed, this last week, to the height of absurdity to which the U.N. has ascended. "The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire, the United Nations is a disunited collection of regimes, many of which do not represent the nations they govern."

When its own Secretary General, Kofi Annan, avers that by going to war in vindication of the plain words in Security Council Resolution 1441, the United States would be acting in defiance of the U.N. Charter, we are fully aloft in the faux-empyrian. It necessarily follows, and let me spell this out, that going to the rescue of the victims in Rwanda would have been against the U.N. Charter. Exactly the same principle applies. The Korean War of 1950-53, and the Gulf War of 1991, were the only military actions upon which the U.N. ever conferred its supposed legitimacy.

France, and verily, Jacques Chirac, were instrumental in keeping the allied confrontation with Milosevic's Yugoslavia out of the U.N. -- for the express purpose of avoiding the quagmire, when he thought action urgently necessary. He did not dream of asking U.N. permission before recently dispatching French troops to the Ivory Coast.

The only reason the U.N. vote carried, when North Korea invaded the South, was because the Russian delegation happened to walk out before the vote was called. They would otherwise have vetoed even the Korean War, and Kim Jong-il would today control the entire peninsula. And in 1991, George Bush the elder stopped the attack on Iraq a little beyond the Kuwait frontier, because he did not have a U.N. mandate to proceed. He turned to the U.N. to deal with the rest of the problem, caused by the survival of Saddam Hussein; and 12 years later, see what it achieved.

See what is achieved by Mr. Blair's ludicrous six-point plan, quickly cobbled together this last week to persuade such incidental Security Council members as Cameroon and Guinea to support another plain statement of fact, in the face of threatened French and Russian vetoes.

Reading through the text, I was reminded of when I was a teenager, and went to a Model United Nations in which my high school participated. The resolutions were similarly childish and impractical -- "Saddam must get on TV and say he is hiding WMD" is the sort of thing we might have come up with -- for we were, after all, around 15 years old. And one of my discoveries, now that I am almost 50, is that the world's business is conducted thus -- that grown men are not merely capable of thinking like early adolescents, but incapable of laughing at themselves a moment later.

But as Mr. Blair persisted, only grim laughter. Heretofore the British and Americans, Spaniards, Czechs and others in their train, had in fact been making a deadly serious case. It was by stooping to where they must try to win favour from various small, sleazy regimes, and engage in sophistries with continental politicians of the moral ilk of Schroeder and Chirac, that they tipped over. From the beginning, the proposal to take the problem of Iraq to the United Nations was an act of folly.

But now that the folly is complete, some kind of lesson must be taken from it. This latest U.N. travesty has demonstrated, beyond reasonable doubt, that the U.N. is itself a counter-productive institution. No organization that puts advanced constitutional democracies on a par with corrupt, dysfunctional, Third World dictatorships can have any moral authority. No bureaucracy such as that which has sustained the inspections rackets of Hans Blix and Mohammed El-Baradei has any business entering into serious matters of life and death.

And while there is hardly space to review the whole comprehensive disaster of the U.N.'s organizational efforts in social, economic, and cultural affairs -- or the very mixed results of its humanitarian efforts -- I can find no part of the main institution worth retaining. Such useful agencies as those which regulate civil aviation, intellectual property, or cross-border mail delivery, do not require the U.N. edifice to continue their work. Most such were founded long before the U.N., and the only contribution from headquarters is to make them bloated, inefficient, and political.
But that is hardly the worst sin of which the organization can be accused. In the final view, the evil of the U.N. consists in its having appropriated to itself the very ideals of human co-operation and solidarity, our hopes for international order and peace. By making all effort towards such ends dependent upon an apparatus of bottomless cynicism and corruption, the U.N. subverts those ideals and hopes.

The most effective way to proceed is for the United States to lead, by withdrawing its membership and all support, including all diplomatic and even parking privileges accorded to delegations in New York. For all that it has achieved, the U.N. deserves to be reduced from an international, to a municipal problem.
UN Conference on Racism - mostly to bang Israel
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JWR contributor David Warren is a Columnist for the Ottawa Citizen. Comment by clicking here.
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