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Authors: Peter B. Robinson


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Peter B. Robinson
A novel by Peter B. Robinson
To my wife, Jeanne – “the wind beneath my sails”
and my daughter, Jennifer – the turbo-jet!
    Many people helped make this, my first book, possible.
    Jeanne and Jennifer Robinson had to live with me while I wrote it, and suffer through my endless readings and revisions.
    Bruce Henderson, a fabulous author, helped turn my amateur writing style into something more acceptable. My friend and agent, Shana Keating, a great lawyer in her own right, offered me many useful suggestions and unfailing optimism.
    At the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Christian Chartier, Chief of Public Information Services, was most gracious with his time and arranged a tour of some parts of the Tribunal that even defence lawyers don’t get to see. Jan Maarten Terwiel, the Director of Education of the Scheveningen prison complex, where the Tribunal keeps its inmates, gave me a wonderful tour and showed me his own, impressive book.
    Judge Ewald Behrschmidt of the Court of Nuremburg, Germany, graciously gave me a bird’s-eye perspective of the Nuremberg trials and let me sit in the very chairs occupied by those who defended at Nuremberg almost 50 years ago.
    My good friend and colleague Tomislav Visnjic of Belgrade taught me what it was like to be a defence lawyer at the Tribunal, and gave me the opportunity to try it out myself.
    To all of these people, I will be forever grateful.
The Security Council, expressing once again its grave alarm at continuing reports of widespread and flagrant violations of international humanitarian law occurring within the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and especially in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including reports of mass killings, massive, organized and systematic detention and rape of women, and the continuance of the practice of “ethnic cleansing”, including for the acquisition and the holding of territory,…decides hereby to establish an international tribunal for the sole purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
     – United Nations Resolution 827 (1993)
Since its inception, the Tribunal has become a fully operational legal institution rendering judgements and setting important precedents of international criminal and humanitarian law. Many legal issues now adjudicated by the Tribunal have never actually been adjudicated or have lain dormant since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials.
The Rules of Procedure and Evidence guarantee that Tribunal proceedings adhere to internationally recognised principles of a fair trial.
     – International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia document (2001)
    “All rise!
Veuillez vous lever!
” the black-robed usher bellowed in English and French, the two official languages of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
    Trial lawyer Kevin Anderson leapt to his feet. The adrenaline from the impending verdict flowed hard and fast inside his well-conditioned body. He had tried more than two hundred cases and lost only a handful. Waiting for a verdict was always a heart thumper. With what he had at stake here, this one was a heart stopper.
    The three judges filed solemnly into the courtroom. They wore black robes with bright red satin covering the chest and shoulders and striping the cuffs. Crusty old William Davidson of Great Britain led the procession, carrying an old leather book in which he had made notes during the trial.
    Kevin studied Judge Davidson’s face for some indication of the decision, but the judge’s eyes were impassive behind his thick glasses, his mouth fixed in its usual scowl.
    Next came the President of the Trial Chamber, Juana Orozco of Chile, with jet-black hair pulled tight behind her head. She looked down; the normally pleasant smile absent from her face. Finally, Francisco Linares of the Philippines marched in, wearing the same blank expression that he had maintained throughout the month-long trial.
    “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” Judge Orozco began when everyone had been seated. She looked out at the visitors’ gallery, separated from the courtroom by a wall of bulletproof glass. Normally empty, the gallery was standing room only.
    Journalists and court watchers had flocked to The Hague to see the result of the War Crimes Tribunal’s most notorious case yet; the prosecution of the infamous Serbian warlord known as “Draga”, leader of the Black Dragons. Draga was accused of leading his paramilitary group on genocidal attacks in Bosnia at the behest of Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic.
    “Will the accused please rise?” Judge Orozco ordered.
    A tall, clean-shaven athletic-looking man wearing a dark blue double-breasted suit rose to his feet. In America, he would have been mistaken for one of the lawyers. However, at the Tribunal here in Holland, all the lawyers wore robes.
    Kevin’s gaze met the deep brown eyes of the woman he loved, seated next to him at the counsel table. He took her hand and squeezed. With his other hand, he reached inside the pocket of his robe and rubbed the lucky stone that their eleven-year-old daughter, Ellen, had given him. Ellen had sat in the audience for many of his verdicts, and now, her life depended on this one.
    A wave of panic engulfed Kevin. He looked up at the judges. The proceedings were moving in slow motion. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself.
    “The Trial Chamber has reached a verdict in this case,” Judge Orozco intoned. “It is a majority verdict, as required by our rules, but it is not unanimous. The verdict on all of the counts of the indictment is the same.”
    Kevin struggled to process this information. A 2-1 verdict. But for acquittal or conviction?
    Judge Orozco continued. “Separate majority and dissenting opinions will be filed in due course. Only the result will be announced this morning.”
    Kevin looked around the courtroom, desperate for a clue. If any of the court personnel knew what the outcome was, they didn’t show it. The clerks, guards, and interpreters all had their eyes fixed on Judge Orozco, her black and red robes framed by the sky blue background of the United Nations flag.
    Kevin gave up his attempt at cognitive analysis.
    Instead, he closed his eyes, rubbed the stone, and prayed.
    “I can’t believe we’re moving to Holland tomorrow, Daddy.”
    Kevin Anderson beamed at his eleven-year-old daughter, Ellen, as they huddled together over a two-scoop vanilla sundae with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
    She was beautiful, with her long brown hair gathered into a ponytail by a purple scrunchy; fun-loving, liquid-brown eyes, and a batch of girlish freckles on her nose.
    “It’s going to be an adventure,” he said, smiling.
    Her expressive face had morphed from a smile into a frown. “I’m really going to miss my friends. And my new school is
big. How will I ever find my way around?”
    “You have plenty of experience finding your way around,” he said, nodding toward the Game Boy that sat on their white marble table at the soda fountain. “You get around Super Mario Land real well.”
    Ellen’s face broke into a wide grin. “Can I play while we finish our ice cream?”
    Kevin caught that infectious smile. If she had asked him for the moon at that moment, he would have somehow found a way to get a lasso around it.
    “Sure. We’ve got time.”
    “Yeah, if we go home now, we’ll just have to help Mommy pack.”
    They exchanged conspiratorial smiles.
    He hadn’t cared much for babies until he held Ellen in his arms seconds after she was born. Never before had he experienced the unconditional love that he felt for his daughter from that moment forward. There were mornings now he dropped her at school, and watched as she walked away, leaning against her heavy backpack, ponytail flapping. He’d sit there and look at her, thinking how lucky he was to have her as a daughter. Sometimes she would look back like, “Dad, go!” And of course, he did. But he couldn’t wait to see her again. He was a highly-regarded federal prosecutor, but his favorite job was being Ellen’s dad.
    Ellen picked up the Game Boy and flicked it on. Its annoying, all-too-familiar tune filled the air.
    Kevin watched his daughter squinting at the little screen, oblivious to the world around her. He went back to the ice cream, now without competition.
    Less than an hour ago, he and FBI Special Agent Bud Marcello had been seated side-by-side at the prosecution table in San Francisco’s Federal Courthouse. As Ellen had watched from the public benches, a jury had convicted a prominent Santa Rosa City Councilman of bribery. It was Kevin’s last federal trial for the next year, and the final case of Bud’s long and illustrious law-enforcement career.
    Tomorrow, Bud Marcello was retiring from the FBI after 30 years, while Kevin was heading to Holland where he had landed a one-year assignment to prosecute war criminals in The Hague at the United Nations’ sponsored International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
    After twenty years as a federal prosecutor, Kevin was looking to do something different for a year, and at the same time, he wanted Ellen to experience living and touring abroad before she got to the age where she wouldn’t be seen with her parents.
    When he returned to California, Kevin planned on landing with a prestigious law firm where he could try civil cases in federal court and make enough money to fund Ellen’s college education. Ellen was a straight “A” student. The day before, she had completed the fifth grade. To Kevin, she was Ivy League material already; Harvard, Yale, Princeton – none were too good for his little girl.
    A trip to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, with its large clock tower overlooking San Francisco Bay, was Kevin and Ellen’s tradition whenever he finished a trial. As he heard Ellen exclaim in frustration while pressing the buttons on her Game Boy, Kevin got up and filled two cups of water from the dispenser.
    Ellen finally paused her game and looked up. “I was thirsty. Thanks, Dad.”
    “Ready to head home?”
    “We have to look at the machines on the way out.”
    Ellen took a swig of water, got up from her chair, put the Game Boy in its case, and headed for the rear of the soda fountain. Kevin followed, snatching a napkin from the holder as they left. He caught up with Ellen and handed her the napkin without a word. She knew the routine. Grimacing, she wiped her mouth and handed the dirty napkin back to Kevin as they reached the exhibit showing how Ghirardelli chocolate was made. Ellen studied the placards, which she read every time they came here. She examined the machinery used in making chocolate candy.
    “I wonder what the chocolate will be like in Holland,” she said.
    “The Dutch make some of the best chocolate in the world. They’re famous for it. I hear they even sprinkle chocolate on their toast.”
    Ellen’s face lit up. “Now that’s a habit I could get into. But I’m really going to miss my friends.”
    “You’ll have all kinds of new friends.”
    “I’ve lived in the same house since I was born. I’ve gone to the same school since kindergarten. There’s only a hundred kids there, and I know them all. There’s more than a thousand kids at The American School of The Hague. And it’s in a foreign country where I don’t know the language.”
    Ellen nodded.
    “So am I,” he admitted. “A little, anyway.”
    He put his arm around her shoulder as they watched the sea of milk chocolate wash back and forth in the large vat.
    “Hey, have I ever steered you wrong?” he asked confidently.
    “You made me take those drama lessons and play in that dumb softball league.”
    Kevin grinned sheepishly. “Besides those two.”
    Ellen rolled her eyes, then reached for his hand and cupped it in her own. Kevin loved it when she let him hold her hand. He knew it wouldn’t last much longer.
    They strolled out of the ice cream place and into the parking garage. When they got to their minivan, Ellen grabbed the Game Boy and resumed the challenge.
    Kevin didn’t object. He had slain his dragon in the courtroom today, and now Ellen was trying to slay hers.
    As was their tradition, Kevin maneuvered the van over to the part of Lombard Street known as “The Crookedest Street in the World.” Ellen paused her game as the Andersons’ van joined the procession of cars carefully snaking their way down the switchbacks of the famous crooked street. She waved happily to the tourists who stood at the bottom of the street, snapping pictures.
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