Seeking to escape the monotony he had come to endure in his job as assistant District Attorney in San Francisco, Philip Kearney needed a change. His solution came one day in a casual email from a friend: "U.N. has opening here for an international prosecutor doing war crimes stuff. You should apply, gotta go."
"Here" meant Pristina, Kosovo. And "stuff" - Kearney soon finds out, after landing the job despite his inexperience with international law and an inability to speak any foreign languages - meant a harrowing string of investigations involving the most brutal and devastating crimes imaginable. Abruptly removed from the comforts of home and the order and stability of America's justice system, Kearney finds himself the sole international prosecutor assigned to a region of nearly one million people. Welcome to the Balkans circa 2001.
Kearney is thrown headlong into a series of historic investigations that quickly land him under the protection of four armed security guards. Armed himself with only the region's archaic criminal justice code, Kearney is soon prosecuting local street thugs, shutting down a ring of international sex-traffickers and spearheading an investigation into secret death camps - a case that ultimately implicates local officials and inflames ethnic violence. He developed an urgent passion, stemming from devastating stories of torture, murder and slavery that dominate Kosovo's bleak landscape.
Under the Blue Flag, reads like an international legal thriller as Kearney and his colleagues are shuttled in armored vehicles between years-old crime scenes and the makeshift courtrooms where Kosovo's fledgling legal system is tested daily. In the face of almost insurmountable obstacles - witness intimidation, corrupt law enforcement and deep ethnic biases - the truth is slowly revealed and with it emerges a cast of conflict-weary locals and displaced internationals, many of whom come to represent the war's most courageous and unheralded heroes. Under The Blue Flag is a passionate and eye-opening look at a post-war Kosovo that continues to straddle the stubborn gap between a past corrupted by violence and injustice and a future governed by the rule of law.