Amherst Native Sits in on Trial of War Criminal
Slobodan Milosevic in Netherlands
Amanda Leese, a Johns Hopkins University sophomore from Amherst, N.H., headed to The Hague, Netherlands, last year to observe trials in the International Criminal Tribunal. As part of the university's Provost's Undergraduate Research Award program, Leese spent several weeks last year delving into her topic.
The international relations major was in The Hague for three weeks to observe the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia, and interview participants. Milosevic is defending himself on charges of committing war crimes and other atrocities. At the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, Leese was among each day's spectators watching through thick bulletproof glass while listening to testimony on headphones. Each member of the public was given a translating device, which could be set on the language of his or her choice, she said. Without the headphones, nothing could be heard through the thick glass, giving her a detached feeling, she said.
She was surprised, she said, that more people didn't observe the trial, which is still going on; with room for about 80 spectators, Leese said, there were usually just 15 to 20 people, not counting the news media.
Although the most sensitive testimony was closed to the public, Leese heard hours of testimony from people describing firsthand the atrocities they had seen or endured, an experience she likened to "listening to Anne Frank read from her diary."
In its 11-year existence, the Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards program has given 483 students grants approaching $1 million to follow their curiosity, thanks to funding primarily from the Hodson Trust. This year's winning students presented their findings in a ceremony on Thursday, March 11, on the Hopkins campus.
With Hodson support, the university is able to offer its undergraduates two opportunities each year to apply for stipends to conduct independent research during the summer or fall. It's a commitment that the university feels is central to its mission, said Steven Knapp, university provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
"Since its beginnings, Johns Hopkins has always emphasized the value of learning through discovery, and this program is an important opportunity for undergraduates to work in this tradition with our best and most creative faculty at the forefront of their fields," Knapp said.
Leese, whose faculty sponsor was Siba Grovogui, is hoping to return to The Hague this summer to learn more.
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