Jon Bellish, DU student, blogs from The Hague on Ratko Mladic war crimes trial

When you're in your third year of law school, you want something a bit meatier than dusty lectures and heavily footnoted case studies.

If you're Jon Bellish, that means you head for The Netherlands -- and the trial of a man charged with some of the most heinous war crimes of modern times.

Bellish, who's studying at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law, is the online editor of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, a student-run quarterly. But he's also just launched a website, The View From Above, designed to bring a more timely sensibility to the university's discussion of international law and foreign policy issues.

And what better way to begin that conversation than with up-close-and-personal daily coverage of the international tribunal weighing the fate of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic? Since Bellish is spending much of his summer attending seminars at The Hague Academy of International Law, he decided to see firsthand how the International Court of Justice operates and write about the Mladic trial for the new site.

Mladic stands accused of numerous crimes of genocide, including a major role in the Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre, considered the greatest mass murder of civilians in Europe since the end of World War II. Bellish's first dispatch deals with Mladic's antics at his initial appearance, during which he was admonished for interrupting the judge, playing to the audience, contesting the legitimacy of the court -- and generally trying to delay his day of reckoning. After several warnings, he was removed from the proceedings.

"We can expect more delay tactics of this sort as the proceeding moves forward," Bellish informs his readers, describing Mladic as a defendant "whose lack of self-awareness made him uncooperative to the point of apparent immaturity."

To get more of one local observer's take on a trial with far more at stake than the kind of stuff Nancy Grace wallows in, check out the site.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast