Europe

Oct 29, 2009

An audience with Radovan Karadzic. Location: The Hague

The Hague has a long history of overseeing international law, the latest being the trial of Serbian Radovan Karadzic, accused of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. Too bad he was a no show, writes Grant Doyle.

The women, mostly elderly, with worn faces framed by scarves, and wearing layers of long flowing clothes and thick heavy coats, sit around tables in the foyer of the Hotel Novotel World Forum, The Hague, Netherlands. Most carry small handkerchiefs, which are well used from wiping eyes, while some flick through family photos or drink coffee, as delegates to the "X Factor" convention file by. Occasionally, a short, stocky man with dark complexion and carrying a small camera case, ushers a few of the women outside the hotel, past the snaking queue of media vans with their satellite dishes, and onto the open grassed forecourt in front of the adjacent building housing the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where the women stand hunched and have microphones thrust in their faces by television reporters from around the globe, and are asked questions -- through an interpreter -- while they hold up placards with shaking arms or point to the printing on specially made T-shirts for the occasion.

One English sentence read: "It is our fault that we are Muslim."

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