Greetings from Sarajevo: A Postcard from Abroad

Posted July 17, 2006

Greetings from Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina! With possibly the best location in the Balkans—surrounded by mountains and close to the sea—Sarajevo is a vibrant city struggling to regain its pre-war glory. Beginning in 1992, Sarajevo was the scene of the longest siege in recent history, lasting over 1,000 days and resulting in tens of thousands of casualties. The Dayton Peace Agreement stopped the fighting, and since then the country has sought peace as well as accountability.

Walk the World march
Mosque in Sarajevo

The establishment of the War Crimes Division of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is an integral part of that effort. We are international interns at the Court, in the Prosecution Support Section. With the imminent dissolution of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at the Hague, the prosecution of remaining perpetrators falls increasingly on this court. While lacking the glamour of the international tribunal, the work of this court is of equal if not greater importance.

Walk the World march
Court room, State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Court is responsible for the prosecution of war criminals at all levels of responsibility. One of the novel features of the Court is the involvement of both national and international personnel, as well as its groundbreaking role in the national implementation of international law. Featured on the news almost nightly, the Court has become an object of intense interest within Bosnian society.

Natalie has spent her summer working for international prosecutor Philip Alcock. She is currently in trial, assisting the prosecution of a war criminal indicted for crimes against humanity committed in Bosnia in 1992. Her duties have included translating Bosnian tapes and documents, drafting motions for submission to the Court, researching matters of domestic and international criminal law, summarizing witness testimonies, and analyzing physical evidence, such as autopsy and exhumation reports, for use at trial.

Hallet was assigned to Jude Romano’s international prosecution team. Hallet is currently working on a case involving the operation of a system of concentration camps that were the site of major violations of international law. Working with two other national interns, his duties have included participating in witness examinations, drafting motions for the Court, researching procedural and substantive questions of national and international criminal law, analyzing witness testimony, attending trial, and examining physical evidence.

Our time at the Court has surpassed all of our expectations, and we look forward to bringing these unique perspectives and experiences back to U.Va. with us, along with many fond memories.

Natalie Blazer and Hal Brazelton

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.