Arrest of Serbs puts fragile peace in peril
Bosnia setback: Seized general and colonel accused of war crimes
Wednesday 07 February 1996
The Bosnian Serb leadership, outraged by the arrest of eight Serb soldiers on war crimes charges, has suspended contacts with the Bosnian government, which yesterday invited the international war crimes tribunal to question the men.
"The city of Sarajevo has, sadly, become the Beirut of Europe," said a statement issued by the Serbs. It "has disqualified itself as a possible joint Serb, Muslim and Croat capital", and officials would boycott meetings in government-held areas. "We have decided to stop negotiations and not to go to the Muslim part any longer until we get the ... Serbs released," a spokesman, Dragan Bozanic, said from the Bosnian Serb headquarters at Pale, near Sarajevo.
There is much confusion surrounding the circumstances of the arrests - the eight, who include a general and a colonel - were detained between 20 January and 2 February, Nato said. The Serbs claim General Djordje Djukic and Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic were driving to a meeting with Nato officers when they were arrested, but Nato officials said no meeting was scheduled at the time.
During the war General Djukic was in charge of organising arms and other supplies for Republika Srpska from Belgrade.
The news is likely to increase fears among Serbs living in the five Sarajevo suburbs that reverted to government rule at the weekend. Men in particular, almost all of whom wore uniform during the war, fear reprisals from Bosnian authorities, despite a promise of amnesty to all but "war criminals". A constant refrain from Serb troops is to ask who will judge what constitutes a war criminal as opposed to a common soldier waging war.
The government accused the two officers of ordering the killing of civilians, and participating in killings. It said three other men, arrested in a civilian car but carrying weapons, were suspected of killing civilians in eastern Bosnia. The last two were being held as witnesses to war crimes.
Bakir Alisphaic, the Bosnian Interior Minister, told reporters the government had a duty to make the arrests. "Since there exists evidence that both officers were involved in committing war crimes against civilians we were authorised and obliged to start an investigation," he said.
A spokesman for Nato's Implementation Force (I-For), Brigadier Andrew Cumming, agreed the government had a right to pursue suspected war criminals, but described the arrests as "provocative and inflammatory", adding that none of those detained had been indicted by the UN tribunal - unlike their boss, General Ratko Mladic, who remains at large in Serb-held territory.
"It would be a pity if this encouraged a retaliatory reaction," Brig Cumming said. "Everything is very fragile." However, I-For has adopted a low-key approach to the issue, despite Serb demands that it free the men. The Nato commander, Admiral Leighton Smith, has reacted in a temperate manner, merely issuing a statement saying the Bosnian government had assured him it would abide by the decision to prosecute or not made by delegates from the tribunal.
Three of the men were interviewed by tribunal officials yesterday, but officials said it was too early to report any finding. Gen Djukic, who is in his seventies, was a close aide to Gen Mladic, who runs the risk of arrest by I-For on war crimes charges and so has been forced to delegate negotiations with Nato to subordinates. Hasan Muratovic, the Bosnian Prime Minister, said the arrests were necessary: "There will be no peace in Bosnia until war criminals are taken to the Hague tribunal or some other court."
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94
Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
£35000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A true market leader in ...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Consulta...
£50000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: For the first time in its 1,000...
£27400 - £33500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time air conditioning, ven...