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."
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Ian Watkins: Police probed over earlier allegations as paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences
DNA from a 50,000 year old toe shows Neanderthals were highly inbred
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
UK evangelist says Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£500 - £680 per day: Harrington Starr: Murex Business Analyst - 1000 CHF per d...
£35000 - £42000 per annum + excellent company benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group:...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Capita Education Resou...
£39000 - £425000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Newly Qualified ...