Bosnia Trip – Day 7European Union, Summer 2012
I wake up late so another quick workout. When I go to shower I realize we have no towels. We only had one towel in the room and I’m guessing Alex or Batu used it last night because its damp. Oh well, I guess I’m going to be late today.
Luckily one of the ladies bring me a towel and I shower with just enough time to get down to breakfast. We are back at the Hotel Astra Garni so breakfast is the typical; soft boiled egg, rice, sausage, tomato, cheese and croissant with marmalade and a side of orange juice and a piece of fruit on the way out.
After breakfast we head to the court. Our crazy taxi ride takes us to the side gate. Marcel makes his rule of 3 joke and we try our best not to laugh. We are at the official court of BiH and here to observe serious matters.
They take our phones upon entering so I have no photos other than the sign at the side gate. We are allowed to sit through a court session from a glass room just behind the defendants. There are six defendants and their lawyers wearing black. The prosecutors wear navy blue. Three judges walk in wearing red robes, oddly enough Marcel does not make his rule of 3 joke. He is too busy struggling with the translation device. We have little radio type devices with headphones that are shaped like inside out umbrellas. They are the worst thing I’ve ever put into my ear. The English translation is on channel 4 but very faint so it is difficult to follow. I mainly observe the defendants. Half of them have police escorts. They make jokes and laugh along with their lawyers and escorts. I can imagine when you are one trial for two years and see the same people everyday it must get pretty comfortable.
The witness comes in wearing all white. I want to believe this is symbolic somehow but I shall not jump to conclusions. After a long session of looking at documents and being confused by the military jargon (the defendants are all ex soldiers one of which was the commander) we get a water break. It feels good to dress up, but sitting through court is not what I want to do. I’d rather be talking one on one with judges or something. After the break we return to our glass box. 10 more minutes of confusion and then the session is over.
We have a while till our next meeting with Judge Phillip Weiner so we walk to a nearby coffee shop. I use the word nearby loosely. After drinks and a long hot walk back to the courtroom we meet with two American Judges. They are the few International judges still in BiH but are leaving this by the end of the year because the EU president is content with the results. He stated that all war criminals have been extradited; members of the Republika Srpska would beg to differ. Nonetheless this talk with Judge Phillip Weiner of Boston and his female colleague from Vermont was very insightful. We were not the only group there so we didn’t get to ask many questions but overall I felt that it was one of the best sessions we had. The judges seemed down to earth, no political agenda, a rarity here in BiH.
During the taxi ride back we see our first accident in Bosnia despite the crazy driving techniques. When we get back Batu and I get Ćevapčići for lunch and I try a Schweppes (bitter lemon soda).
Afterwards we head back to the hotel and nap. All three of us, Alex, Batu and I oversleep. Sam comes in to wake us up. ”You know we’re supposed to meet at 7 right, we’ll its 7:15.” We hurry and get dressed. We have are farewell dinner tonight at a nice restaurant on the other side of town. Alex doesn’t bother getting dressed up and runs downstairs. Less than a minute later he comes back upstairs saying that Karin told him he was not dressed appropriately for the restaurant we are attending (reminds me of earlier that day when she told him to tuck his shirt back in when we were standing at the front gate of the court waiting for our taxis).
On the way we pass the Holiday Inn which was the setting for most of the graphic novel Fax from Sarajevo. This was where the main character Ervin and his family took refuge during the war. It is still standing.
We arrive at Park Princeva, a nice restaurant in the hills with a beautiful view of the city, live music, and most of all good food. I was stuck between whether or not to order the Sarajevo Sword or the chicken cheese rolls. Batu got the Sarajevo Sword and I ended up getting the chicken.
We realize this is our last night in Sarajevo. Its a good end to a good trip; order drinks while overlooking the city lights as the sunsets. The call to prayer sounds like a choir enticing all to stop and stare. After that the sound of the band fills the background while we chat and reflect on our experiences. The chit chatter of various Serbo-Croatian dialects, a chuckle here and there, I propose a cheer.
After dessert we head out to the cabs, the ride back downhill is much faster but I can’t say it feels safer.
This concludes the 7th Day of my BiH trip.
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