NARRATOR: From the earliest days of the war, there were accounts of atrocities against civilians on all sides of the conflict. TV reports finally made them too real to ignore, and in 1993 the United Nations established the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. It was the first international war crimes court in Europe since Nuremberg … and the first ever to be convened in the midst of a war.
HILDEGARD: My husband is from the former Yugoslavia. And we followed the news when the war started.
TV ANNOUNCER: It was the first air raid on a European region since World War II. And war seemed to have begun again in Yugoslavia…
HILDEGARD: That this could happen after such a short period of time, where everybody else was saying “This will never happen again in Europe. “ It did happen. And that was very upsetting.
NARRATOR: Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff was a seasoned litigator who’d spent years prosecuting cases of fraud and other white-collar crimes in her native Germany. She came to the fledgling tribunal while 800 miles away the Serbs’ campaign of ethnic cleansing was advancing with devastating brutality.
PEGGY: The thing that was most heartbreaking about the war in Yugoslavia is that this was neighbor on neighbor.
NARRATOR: Peggy Kuo came later to the Tribunal from the U.S. Department of Justice, with experience in prosecuting hate crimes and civil rights cases.
PEGGY KUO: I came to the U.S. when I was three from Taiwan and I went to public school in New York City. There were Hispanic kids, black kids, a couple of Asians, white kids, Jewish kids. There were always fights. There were racial taunts. I got called names. Maybe seeing how badly kids behave when the grown-ups aren't there made me a prosecutor.
NARRATOR : Peggy Kuo joined Tejshree Thapa and Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff to form the heart of a team assigned to investigate the growing tales of horror that were filtering out of the eastern Bosnian town of Foca.
TEJ: The impression that I formed was that bad stuff had happened but the truth was impossible to figure out and we had to eventually, as in all of these cases, you have to go and you have to look for the individuals who were there, who knew the story.
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