Can international justice be free of politics?
Now that we have seen and heard Radovan Karadzic in the dock, facing a grim litany of charges, we might as well consider two issues that he raised.
For Karadzic's defence, in as much as we have now heard one, poses questions about how far ends justify means and also how far international criminal justice, applied to the leaders of warring factions, can ever be shorn of politics.
The former Bosnian Serb leader argued firstly that in 1996, following the Dayton peace agreement, which ended the Bosnian war, he was promised by the agreement's architect, Richard Holbrooke, that he would avoid prosecution if he quit public life and disappeared.
Mr Karadzic also alleged that he had been detained by unknown persons three days before his official arrest, and not allowed to communicate prior to his delivery to a special court in Belgrade. The Serbian rumour mill has it alternatively that he was lifted by Serbian intelligence agents, by bounty hunters, or by western intelligence agencies.
We can expect vociferous denials of these claims, but in some measure there is substance to them. Firstly it was well understood in Nato after it moved into Bosnia, that no serious attempt to arrest Mr Karadzic was to be made - and the top civilian representative Carl Bildt confirmed as much on Newsnight last week.
Did Nato's inaction arise solely from a desire not to inflame Serb opinion or is this evidence of a deal ? Well, here's a clue - no determined efforts were made to arrest Mr Karadzic under President Clinton's administration. Dayton was a triumph of that president's diplomacy, not so George W. Bush.
Now you might argue that it doesn't matter what kind of promises are made to a rogue like Radovan Karadzic, so long as it stops a ghastly war. Something similar happened with Charles Taylor in Liberia. Despite his truly grim record of atrocities, he was first given sanctuary in Nigeria under a deal, but later that was torn up and he was put on a plane to the International Criminal Court.
The problem with making deals cynically is that others take note. Many believe this is why we are where we are with Robert Mugabe. He simply does not believe those who might try to convince him that he could retire quietly to the countryside if he handed power to Morgan Tsvangarai.
In short, this is the dilemma with indicting leaders. They are the ones capable of leading their people into peace deals, of ending horrific conflicts. Would it be satisfactory for Bosnian Serb officers to be prosecuted for their crimes but not Radovan Karadzic ? Certainly, I favour prosecuting the generals or the actual torturers - forget for the moment the narrative that they are not ultimately responsible, since they are clearly liable for their own acts.
Does that mean letting go Karadzic or Slobodan Milosevic - the overall Serbian leader (now dead) who many consider the man ultimately responsible for the Balkan tragedy of the 1990s ? My answer would be, that if such leaders are promised immunity as part of a peace agreement, that deal, however distasteful or deniable, will have to be honoured, since others around the world will be watching.
If Mr Karadzic proves his case on this point, it may not save him from prosecution, but it will be deeply discreditable to American diplomacy.
The other issue concerns bringing someone to a court by illegal, or more accurately extra-legal or unorthodox, means. Did bounty hunters collar Karadzic ? Many of you may not be bothered. It's what Israel did with the Nazi Adolf Eichman in 1960 or Turkey with Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK Kurdish separatist group in 1999 - bundled them on planes.
At least Mr Karadzic went through some sort of extradition formality in Belgrade. If bringing a war criminal or terrorist to trial this way doesn't bother you, consider the Americans doing the same with al-Qaeda.
Does rendition in this context matter ? I do not mean secret jails or torture in countries where such treatment of suspects is possible. By rendition, I simply mean apprehending someone overseas without the usual procedures and bringing them before a court for trial.
The way people process this dilemma depends to a great degree on their political stance. It's like those who thought the Iraq war illegal because it was not specifically sanctioned by a UN Security Council resolution - but approved of Nato's war over Kosovo, similarly bereft of Security Council cover. Neo-cons thought Iraq was justified, liberals that Kosovo was a daring departure in 'humanitarian intervention'.
All of this then brings us back to the politics of indictments and trials, notably of leaders - the people who symbolise a particular point of view. It is often going to problematic, and whatever the assurances of those involved in prosecuting such cases, political motives are bound to be ascribed to them. One thing is clear though from yesterday's proceedings in the Hague - the court's determination to push ahead rapidly.
For down the line in a year and a half the Tribunal's UN Yugoslav mandate will expire. This will give Russia its chance, if it wishes to pose once more as the defender of slav interests, to be obstructive about renewing it. Or would that simply be playing politics ?