Horrors of Bosnian War relived in British court

An engineering professor masterminded a series of war crimes, including ordering the execution of wounded Yugoslav soldiers, when he briefly became President of Bosnia at the outbreak of war 18 years ago, a court in London heard yesterday.

Ejup Ganic, 65, was arrested at Heathrow in March this year on an arrest warrant issued by the Serbian authorities which he and his family claim is a politically-motivated attempt by Belgrade to rewrite the history of the Bosnian War which broke out in 1992, eventually claiming more than 10,000 lives.

British prosecutors representing the Serbian government yesterday outlined evidence that Dr Ganic, a friend of Baroness Thatcher, "personally commanded" a succession of atrocities in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, when for 48 hours he became the country's President on 2 and 3 May 1992.

The chaotic events which presaged the bloody dissolution of the former Yugoslavia were resurrected nearly two decades later in a courtroom at the City of Westminster magistrates' court as lawyers outlined the case as to why Dr Ganic should be returned to Belgrade to face charges of "grave breaches" of the Geneva Convention. Dr Ganic denies all the allegations.

The academic, who was a senior member of the Bosnian presidency in Sarajevo at the outbreak of war, was appointed the country's temporary leader when the incumbent, Alija Izetbegovic, was taken hostage by Serb-dominated Yugoslav federal army (JNA) forces.

The crisis led to clashes between JNA troops and Bosnian forces in Sarajevo during which, according to prosecutors, Dr Ganic ordered attacks on a JNA officers' club, a hospital and a convoy of ambulances, leading to the execution of troops who had surrendered.

The skirmishes came to a head on the evening of 3 May when a United Nations convoy, organised to resolve the hostage crisis by exchanging Mr Izetbegovic for a senior JNA general and his troops, was fired upon by Bosnian forces while retreating from a barracks in central Sarajevo, killing a large number of Serb soldiers, some of them already wounded.

James Lewis QC, representing the Serbian authorities, told the court that the order for this and four other alleged atrocities came directly from Dr Ganic and the Bosnian high command.

He said: "It is alleged that Dr Ganic agreed with others to carry out a course of conduct which would necessarily mean the commission of war crimes."

Arguing that the Serb arrest warrant was backed by reliable evidence, Mr Lewis added: "This is not a trumped-up charge. It is a matter which needs to be adjudicated upon before a proper tribunal. So intimidating were these attacks, so high profile were they, that they cannot have taken place without authorisation at the very highest level."

Court documents stated that the claimed atrocities began at around 11am on 2 May when Bosnian troops attacked an officers' club, leading to the capture of catering staff who were later tortured and executed.

A JNA medical convoy sent to retrieve the injured from that attack was then fired upon with machine guns and rockets, destroying two ambulances before 11 soldiers with their arms held up in surrender were picked off, the court heard.

One witness said the surrendering soldiers were killed or wounded by opponents "carrying out a liquidation as if they were at the firing range".

Prosecutors said that in the following 24 hours a military hospital was attacked by sniper fire and grenades before the order to carry out the assault on the retreating JNA column was given from a room in the Bosnian presidency in which Dr Ganic was present.

Dr Ganic, who runs a private university in Sarajevo and was a regular visitor to Britain, was arrested after attending an academic ceremony at Buckingham University and spent 10 days in prison before his £300,000 bail surety was paid by Diana Jenkins, a Sarajevo-born socialite and the millionaire wife of a British banker.

Speaking outside the court, the academic, who was greeted by protesters waving banners reading "Ganic – blood on his hands" and "Gotcha Ganic", denied the allegations and said he could not hope to receive a fair trial in Belgrade.

He said: "They hope to rewrite history because this is a country that committed genocide. It is 18 years after these events and there were hundreds and hundreds of incidents of this kind.

"They are trying to say, 'We are an organised country that can give a fair trial'. Just imagine – it is as if the Germans were prosecuting those who led the resistance against them."

The case before Chief District Judge Timothy Workman continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Life and Style
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn