Storm (2009)

 

 

 

Director:     .

Starring:     Kerry Fox (Hannah Maynard), Anamaria Marinca (Mira Arendt), Stephen Dillane (Keith Haywood), Rolf Lassgård (Jonas Dahlberg), Alexander Fehling (Patrick Färber), Tarik Filipovic (Mladen Banovic), Kresimir Mikic (Alen Hajdarevic), Steven Scharf (Jan Arendt), Joel Eisenblätter (Simon Arendt), Wine Dierickx (Jule Svensson), Reinout Bussemaker (Carl Mathijsen), Bent Mejding (Judge Lars Andersen), Alexis Zegerman (Daliah Sofer), Arturo Venegas (Arnold Michaels), Drazen Kuhn (Goran Duric).

 in the case of Serbia and Bosnia will war criminals get off free without any real punishment?

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  The F word spelled out.

A husband and wife are on vacation with their two girls. They play on the beach and later buy some groceries. Now they start to go home. The husband notices that two men in a car are following him and his family. The husband makes some fast turns to get away from the car following him.

At home and in bed the police arrive and grab the husband.

Three years later. A woman lawyer comes into a building where they are holding an International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Her name is Hannah Maynard. Colleagues talk to her about Keith Haywood getting a promotion to chief deputy prosecutor. Hannah goes into Keith’s office to congratulate him. He uses the opportunity to ask her to help him on one of the cases he has.

They captured Goran Duric three years ago and are going to charge him with crimes against humanity. Hannah comments that Duric is a national hero in Serbia. Keith says, nevertheless, they are going to put Duric in prison for ten years. He shows her footage from Kasmaj in the Serbian part of Bosnia. The leader there led a campaign of ethnic cleansing, but Duric was the one who gave the orders.

Hannah is in the bedroom with her husband. He observes that Hannah is upset about not getting the promotion to chief deputy prosecutor. She says she had the same rank as Keith, and she worked twice as hard as Keith.

In the morning her husband takes off on a plane to go to a conference.

Meanwhile, a young Muslim man in his hotel room prays to Allah. A woman assistant for Hannah knocks on the door and asks him if he is ready to go. In court, the man with the name of Alen Hajdarevic gives eye witness testimony against the defendant Duric. He said there was a bus on school property. It was there to be used to deport the village residents not of the right ethnicity. The JNA soldiers were there to make sure the women got on the bus. [The JNA was the army of the Socialist Federal Republic of the former Yugoslavia.] A soldier would not force a reluctant mother with a child onto the bus. So Duric grabbed her by the hair and dragged her over to the bus and forced her onto the vehicle. Duric was the officer in charge of the Kasmaj deportations.

At a break in the trial, Hajdarevic goes over to Hannah to talk to her. Hannah’s female assistant comes over to the man and says that he is still under oath and is not allowed to talk to the prosecutor.

Cross-examination of Hajdarevic takes place. The defense lawyer destroys the testimony of the witness. He wasn’t in the right place to see a bus on the school grounds, he couldn’t identity the kind of bus that was there, and, as a matter of fact, the roads were too narrow to permit the bus from getting onto the school grounds.

Hannah says she has no reason to doubt her witness’s testimony, so the defense attorney will take the court to Republika Srpska by airplane to test his statement about the bus.

The demonstration turns out to be a real embarrassment for Hannah. The bus could not make the turns during the test at all. She is really upset because she thinks that this could mean that Duric could be released as a free man. Hannah wants to know why Hajdarevic took them for a ride.  Hannah says to her male assistant Patrick that this whole farce has made her feel ill.

Hajdarevic comes into Hannah's office saying that Duric is a criminal.  Moreover, he says Duric is a sadistic bastard, only happy when he can make people suffer.  Hannah uses the opportunity to ask Hajdarevic why did he lie to her and in court?  She says Hajdarevic strung everyone along like fools.  The Muslim fellow says that Duric has to be punished, implying that lying is okay as long as they punish Duric.  Hannah says that's not how it works in a court of law.  Hajdarevic says he only wanted to get things right and it's not fair.  Hannah responds:  "Oh, piss off!"  The fellow leaves. 

Hajdarevic hangs himself by his tie.  Hannah sees the paramedics taking down the man's body.  Hannah gives out with a big groan and a sigh.

Hannah sees her boss Keith and he consoles her with a big hug.  He tells her that it's alright.  He then tells her that Dahlia and Arnold are going to put something together for the press.  When they meet with Dahlia and Arnold, Dahlia explains that this is all for damage control.  Hannah doesn't trust Dahlia.  She tells her:  "Don't play games with me.  What you're really wondering is if you need a scapegoat and whether I'm it." 

In her hotel room, on the phone Hannah tells her husband that she can't sleep.  She says she is furious about the witness and she lost her temper. 

Hannah wants to find out why Hajdarevic created such a lie.  She wants to speak to his relatives.  She attends the man's burial.  She then visits his wife.  She tells his wife that surely her husband wouldn't have made up such a wild story without a reason, so what's the reason?  The wife is not cooperative and tells Hannah to leave them alone.  Her husband was just buried today.  So, Hannah talks to the man's sister, but she says she and her brother rarely kept in touch.  The sister now lives in Germany because there's no future in the Balkans.  A man in a car takes photos of Hannah. 

Hannah drives to check out a hotel.  She speaks with the manager and asks him if the complex was used for military purposes in the 1990's?  After all, the hotel was owned by the Yugoslavian state.  The manager says he bought the hotel in 1997, so he has no records or files of the time before that.  He takes out the photos done of Hannah and gives them to her.  She asks if he's trying to scare her?  He tells her to get out of here.

Hannah walks to her car and some hotel worker throws a rock through her back window. 

A policeman speaks with Hannah saying that the manager she dealt with is a  man named Stanic and he's part of a group of wealthy men who are known as the Big Five or the Untouchables.  After the Bosnian War they split up the Serbian part of Bosnia among themselves.  He also tells Hannah that it was not a good idea to go to the hotel, and certainly, not alone. 

The man taking pictures of Hannah now harasses Hajdarevic's sister knocking her head into a wall and warning her not to talk to the people from the Hague.  Mira and her husband and son are going back to Berlin. 

Hannah sees her husband again.  They kiss.  Mr. Dahlberg, her husband, introduces her to a man named Mr. Alic, the E.U. negotiation representative of the Republika Srpska.  They want to get to Alic to get them permission to investigate the one hotel that Hannah visited, the one in Vilina Kosa.  Alic protests that Duric has been held in their jails for three years now.  He is becoming a martyr for the nationalists.  And if the E.U. continues to sling mud at Duric, it will cost his political party the next election.  Dahlberg warns Alic of the fact that his country wants to be part of the E. U., but it seems that his country is balking at cooperating with the E. U. investigators.  Mr. Alic now in a huff gets up and leaves. 

Hannah tells her husband she's taking a flight to Berlin tomorrow to see Mira. 

In Berlin Hannah arrives at the apartment building where Hajdarevic's sister Mira lives.  There waiting for her is Patrick, who she calls a golden retriever.   He says that Keith send him to bring her back to the Hague.  She comments that he's ever faithful to Keith.  He goes with her into talk with the sister.

Hannah tells Mira that she is investigating Duric and the hotel at Vilina Kosa.  Mira tells her:  "Duric is responsible for everything."  Then she says that she has a good life in Berlin and she doesn't want to mess it up.  Hannah leaves her number where she can be reached.  She will be in Berlin for the night.  If Mira changes her mind, she can call Hannah. 

Mira gets harassed again when she has trouble finding her son Simon after school is out.   She finally finds him and her son says a man gave him a cell phone and some Serbian candy for mother.  Mira smashes the cell phone on the ground.  A little later Mira calls Hannah.  She tells her about being harassed and adds that her husband and her son don't know anything about this matter.  Even though she called Hannah, she still tells Hannah to leave her alone and that she is not going to testify.  She starts trying to get away from Hannah when she almost steps right in front of a car coming down the street.  Hannah tells her she will never be at peace until she testifies and gets this thing out in the open.

So Mira speaks while a recorder tapes her testimony.  She says her brother told Hannah the truth.  It's just that he wasn't an eye witness.  She was looking for her brother and when she was coming back she saw the bus standing in the Dalmatinska, behind the gymnasium.  "They were putting people into the bus  One of the soldiers saw me.   He told me to come closer.  I didn't want to, so he pulled me off my bike and backed me into the bus.  One woman had a baby with her.  . . .  They brought us to this hotel, Vilina Kosa.  The soldiers pulled us out of the bus.  The woman with the baby resisted.  Then Duric came in and dragged her out.  She fell.  She was lying there and crying.  . . . He didn't stop kicking her and the baby.  He kept saying to the soldiers, 'This is the way to deal with them.'  None of us helped her."

The women were put 6 in a room.  They were repeatedly raped.  Anyone sick or sickened or who disobeyed the soldiers were taken to the cellar and shot dead.  Duric gave the orders.  She doesn't know how long she endured this, but one day she woke up and the soldiers were gone. 

Now a forensic investigation team examines and tests for blood in the basement.  With the spraying of luminal, the walls of the cellar turn blue, indicating blood.  There is blue everywhere. 

Mira and her boy come to the Hague and are put up in a hotel room. 

Keith speaks with Hannah.  He says he would have appreciated being informed about her new witness.  He adds that tomorrow they have to met with the president of the court.

The president says that Duric's defense team went to the judge yesterday.  They are not happy about a new witness being presented in the middle of a trial and if this happens, they will ask for four weeks extension of the trial.  The president gets more blunt.  They are trying to close down the tribunal and a four week extension will bollix up their time table.  In other words, don't bring the witness forward and let Duric off so they can close down the tribunals per schedule.   The president leaves.  Daliah comes over asking what the prosecution will do.  Keith says that's for the prosecution to decide.  So, Daliah definitely becomes more forceful, personal and nasty toward the two prosecutors, and especially toward Hannah.  Hannah and then Keith walk away from her.

The judge tells Keith that their new witness can talk about what happened at Kasmaj, but not what happened at Vilina Kosa. 

Keith, Hannah and Patrick go to speak to the main defense lawyer.  He says that Duric's supporters will just say that the U. N. is mud-slinging and Duric will become even better known as a martyr.  It will help his political career, not hinder it.  So it's best to leave Vilina Kosa out of the trial. 

The aide certainly doesn't like the way the case is going.  He says:  "We're exchanging justice for convenience. That's how it looks like."  Keith tells him:  "Maybe you should consider whether you're quite cut out for a career in criminal law, Patrick." 

Hannah is very upset and she wonders what on earth is she going to tell Mira. 

Mira's husband tries to see Mira, but the guards throw him out of the hotel.  So Mira and her boy sneak out of the hotel and go to a restaurant with the boy's father.  The father shows her a newspaper article on Mira and her brother.  The paper says Alen was a crazy Muslim fundamentalist and Mira is a traitor who's in The Hague dragging Duric's name through the mud.  And they even gave their address in Berlin in the paper.  The husband is really angry, and Mira decides that she must testify to get everything out in the open. 

Mira reunites with Hannah, who tells Mira that she does not know how her address was leaked to the press.  Mira tells her she has to get this story out, for her sake, if for no one else's. 

Hannah goes to her hotel and she sees her husband and Keith together shaking hands to some deal with the defense attorney.  She is shocked and stunned.  She confronts her husband, who says he knew he should have informed her, but he didn't know how she would react.  He explains that it's his job  to make sure these Balkan countries become members of the E. U. as smoothly as possible.  The new revelations would only complicate things for everybody.  He belittles her work, goes too far, and has to apologize to her.  Hannah tells Dahlberg that the two them are over with.  He walks away from her. 

Now Hannah goes into speak with Keith.  He says:  "It's done.  Written confirmation from Banovic [the defense lawyer] that Duric will give evidence against his former comrades."  So everybody is happy.  Hannah asks Keith what about the new witness?  Is this an acceptable deal for the witness?  She adds that this is unjust.  She says this woman needs to be heard.  She has to tell her story.  Keith says testifying is not fucking therapy. 

The worked-out case is now to be rolled up.  Hannah now tells Mira about the bargain worked out by the major parties.  Vilina Kosa will be swept under the rug.  Mira is now furious with Hannah.  Hannah says she can't do anything.  She can't change it. 

The prosecution calls Mira to the stand.  She testifies as to what happened on April 26, 1992 about the bus at the gymnasium.  Hannah asks if she ever saw Duric again?  The defense attorney and the president all scold Hannah for even asking the question because it's outside the case at Kasmaj.  But Miss Maynard just keeps re-asking the question.  Mira hesitates a bit but then shouts out that yes, Duric was in Vilina Kosa when she and dozens of women were raped.  She gets up and starts shouting accusations at Duric directly, asking him, for instance, where did he bury the bodies of the women that he killed?  A guard has to restrain Mira and two guards remove Duric from the courtroom. 

The defense attorney says to Hannah:  "You'll never see another courtroom from inside, I swear."  He leaves the courtroom. 

The news of the day is that:  "Goran Duric, sentenced to three years for war crimes in Kasmaj, Bosnia, was released in the Hague today.  He had been in jail since his arrest in 2005.   But the Bosnian State Court announced new proceedings against the former general as new evidence suggests that Duric may have been in charge of a rape camp during the war."

Mira, although bitter about Duric being free, does say thank you to Hannah. 

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  Good movie about a war crime tribunal against a Serbian General Duric.  The prosecutor Hannah worked hard gathering the evidence against Duric, who, by the way, is a war hero to the Serbs.  She has a star eye-witness willing to testify against Duric.  However, when he does testify, the defense attorney clearly points out that the eye witness is lying about the case.  This puts the whole case against Duric in danger of completely collapsing and Duric getting away free and easy.  Hannah is determined to find out through others why would her eye witness just make up a false story against General Duric.  What she finds out is very interesting and helpful.  But then the politics surrounding Duric starts to change the court situation. 

In essence a plea deal is taken because the E. U. wants to bring the Balkan nations into their union of countries in a trouble-free way.  In the United States, for what it's worth, most of the criminal cases are settled by plea bargains.  But Hannah felt she had made a commitment to her new witness that the woman could tell her full story against General Duric.  The woman needed to get her story out for her own emotional well-being.  Hannah, against orders, lets the new eye witness get her story out, thereby putting Hannah's own career in jeopardy.

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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