Serb charged over role in Sarajevo siege

EMMA DALY

Sarajevo

The international war-crimes tribunal in The Hague yesterday charged a Bosnian Serb general with crimes against humanity for abetting the siege of Sarajevo, which killed more than 10,000 people and wounded 50,000.

Hours after the Bosnian government declared that the blockade was over- in practice it ended in December after the arrival of Nato troops - the UN tribunal indicted Lieutenant-General Djordje Djukic, a Yugoslav Army officer who ran the Bosnian Serbs' logistics operations.

The general was indicted for aiding and abetting the siege in which "Bosnian Serb military forces, on a widespread and systematic basis, deliberately or indiscriminately fired on civilian targets that were of no military significance in order to kill, injure, terrorise and demoralise the civilian population".

The general's lawyer, Milan Vujin, was contemptuous: "This contains one fact: that General Djukic is in the Bosnian Serb army," he said. "If that is all they have, we can get the trial over today. Yes, he's in the Bosnian Serb army. There's not one other fact here."

General Djukic fell into the hands of his alleged victims on 30 January, when his driver took a wrong turn into Sarajevo and was stopped by Bosnian police. They arrested General Djukic and Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic, a colleague, prompting an angry response from Bosnian Serb leaders in Pale, who severed ties with the Nato peace force (I-For).

Two weeks later, General Djukic and Colonel Krsmanovic were dispatched on a Nato plane to The Hague for investigation, to the rage - and fear - of their military and political masters. Both men refused to co-operate with the tribunal as witnesses; the Chief Prosecutor's response was to indict General Djukic and extend the colonel's detention.

"Being unable to continue to regard General Djukic as a witness we have had the opportunity of considering evidence we have against him," Judge Richard Goldstone said yesterday. "Whilst our investigations ... are not yet complete, we considered that in respect of two counts there is sufficient evidence to justify indicting General Djukic."

Judge Goldstone said the indictment was likely to be amended as investigations continued. General Djukic was already known to the tribunal: his name figured in evidence attached to the earlier indictments on war crimes of Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, the political and military leaders of the Bosnian Serb forces.

Most Bosnian Serbs were angered by the arrest of General Djukic, arguing that he and Colonel Krsmanovic were "backroom boys" who could not have blood on their hands.

But both had an important role in organising the weapons and ammunition for the siege, which ended formally yesterday when Bosnian police took control of the Serb-held suburb of Ilijas, linking the city to government territory for the first time since May 1992.

Both men could bring down bigger prey, perhaps even President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia. Despite the routine denials from Belgrade, it is clear Serbia's help was crucial to the war effort of its Bosnian clients. General Djukic is an officer in both the Yugoslav and Bosnian Serb armies.

General Djukic, due in court on Monday to enter a plea, is unlikely to face trial for months. The only other suspect in detention, Dusan Tadic, is expected to stand trial on 7 May, more than a year after his extradition from Germany to The Hague. Both he and General Djukic are housed in a specially built cell-block in Scheveningen prison.

Colonel Krsmanovic will be another neighbour for at least a month, held as a possible suspect and witness. Judge Goldstone is considering whether to indict him or release him to the Bosnian authorities, who would pursue their own case against him. The colonel refused to attend earlier hearings because he does not recognise the tribunal. He may now consider the role of turncoat preferable to that of defendant.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
tech
Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Y5 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Long term position for a KS2...

Graduate BI Consultant (Business Intelligence) - London

£24000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate BI Consultant (B...

Service Delivery Manager (Product Manager, Test and Deployment)

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager (Product Ma...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teachers with QTS nee...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week