Cheating the verdict

It is always a disappointment when a criminal escapes a verdict. Milosevic was by no means the only villain in the Balkans conflict of the 1990s, but he was the worst. There is a real chance that if he had never lived things would have progressed very differently. Franjo Tudjman, the almost equally vicious dictator of Croatia, rose to power on the back of the anger that Milosevic engendered in Croatia. Tudjman, incidentally, also cheated the judicial process, dying just before he was indicted.

Some of the most cruel abusers of human rights, such as Stalin and Mao, died in their beds. A few, like Castro, Ghadaffi and Mugabe are still in power. Hitler and Himmler committed suicide. Only a handful have ever faced trial.

That Saddam and Milosevic - equally foul, but unrelated criminals - were on trial simultaneously was a unique bright spot in history. That one of these two did not live to be sentenced is a dreadful shame.

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