Richard GoldstoneIt seems that Judge Richard Goldstone – the selfsame jurist in charge of the Goldstone Report accusing the IDF of “war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity” in Gaza this past winter – indicted a fictional Serbian character for war crimes back in 1995.

While we all know that fictional characters can often be really really bad and evil, indicting them as part of an international criminal tribunal is perhaps taking it a bit too far. And is the step from indicting fictional characters to indicting real people for fictional crimes really that big of a leap?

So the story goes, as first reported by Makor Rishon newspaper in Israel, that back when Yugoslavia was breaking up, Goldstone presented an indictment of several Serbs for crimes against humanity. Among those was a man named Gruban, with a silhouette for a picture, charged with raping Muslim prisoners in a Serbian concentration camp. The witness to these crimes was supposedly “Witness F,” who claimed to suffer at the hands of Gruban.

As the picture of Gruban’s silhouette was distributed, all of his details – including description, father’s name, location, and age, were listed as “unknown.” Later identified as Gruban Malic, he was found to have been a fictional character from a Serbian World War II novel called Hero on a Donkey.

The hoax began because some American journalist really, really wanted to see a real live war criminal. So a Yugoslavian war correspondent who probably read Hero on a Donkey, told the journalist about Gruban Malic, likely trying to get the journalist off his back, or simply pulling his leg. He later wrote his own book, Hero on a Donkey Goes to The Hague, capitalizing on the fascination with the silhouetted war criminal with no known description, and how his comment to an American Journalist took off suddenly into an indictment.

The charges were dropped in 1998 for lack of evidence. (Note: Not lack of reality though.) I wonder when the charges against Israel will be dropped as well. Does it even matter?