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U.N. tribunal finds former Bosnia Serb leader guilty of genocide



A former Bosnian Serb leader was found guilty of genocide and other charges on Thursday for his role in deadly campaigns during the Bosnian war in the 1990s, including the massacres of thousands in Srebrenica, as an international tribunal announced a long-awaited reckoning in Europe’s bloodiest chapter since World War II.

Radovan Karadzic was found guilty of 10 charges that touched on many of the atrocities and ethnic-cleansing policies that stunned the world as Bosnia became a crucible for the rivalries and fears that tore apart Yugoslavia.

Among the findings against Karadzic involved the worst systematic slaughter of the war: the slayings of 8,000 Muslim men and boys outside the Srebrenica enclave near the close of the three-year Bosnian conflict.

Karadzic, 70, was sentenced to 40 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which is nearing the end of its investigations of alleged atrocities and other crimes from the country’s meltdown. In total, more than 100,000 people died in the three-sided Bosnian conflict among Bosnian Serbs, ethnic Croats and Muslims.

The court’s ruling placed widespread blame on Karadzic, who it said directed murders, purges and other abuses against civilians, including the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in which Serb gunners and snipers fired nearly daily from surrounding ridges.

Karadzic — a Bosnian Serb political leader and commander of military forces — claimed he was seeking only to protect ethnic Serbs during the war. A legal adviser to Karadzic said he will appeal the court ruling.

The proceedings of the tribunal at The Hague, which is backed by the United Nations, have been closely watched as a potentially significant step in applying international law to investigations of alleged war crimes and other abuses against civilians.

“This is a momentous day for international justice, but also for those in Bosnia who lost husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters in a coordinated campaign of violence,” said Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy and partnerships at Physicians for Human Rights, a group that was involved in exhuming some of Srebrenica’s mass graves.

Karadzic — who was indicted in 1995 but was on the run until his capture in 2008 — was the most senior Bosnian Serb figure to face prosecution at the court, which has spent more than two decades probing the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

The trial revisited the horrors of Srebrenica, in which Bosnian Muslims were herded from U.N.-designated “safe havens” into killing fields over several days in July 1995, and their bodies dumped into shallow pits. Investigators later uncovered many bodies with the hands still bound behind their backs and showing evidence of execution-style slayings with shots to the back of the head.

At a U.N. meeting last year marking the 20th anniversary of the slaughter, Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said the atrocities will remain a stain on the world body.

“We gather in humility and regret,” Eliasson said at the time, “to recognize the failure of the United Nations and the international community to prevent this tragedy.”

Still awaiting trial are Karadzic’s military chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic, and ethnic Serb political firebrand Vojislav Seselj.

In 2006, former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died in his cell at The Hague before judges could deliver verdicts in his trial.

Karadzic was among the most-wanted fugitives from the Balkan wars. When he was captured in Belgrade in 2008, he was posing as a New Age healer — with a beard, shaggy hair and oversize glasses — and using the alias Dragan Dabic.

The Karadzic convictions could serve to strengthen the credibility and reach of other international tribunals, including the International Criminal Court. On Monday, the ICC convicted a former Congo militia leader of war crimes carried out in the neighboring Central African Republic.

But some believe it is too soon to judge whether pan-national courts can adequately hold war crimes violators accountable.

“We must redouble our efforts to ensure that the prosecution of Radovan Karadzic does not stand as an isolated island of accountability in a sea of impunity,” said Nancy Combs, a professor at the College of William and Mary law school and specialist in international criminal law.

After the verdicts on Thursday, the top U.N. human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said the decisions also send a wider message about the dangers of nationalism and ethnic vilification.

In a statement, he said the trial “should give pause to leaders across Europe and elsewhere who seek to exploit nationalist sentiments and scapegoat minorities for broader social ills.”


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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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