Bosnian Serbs plan to submit evidence against former Muslim leader
ARIZONA DAILY WILDCAT
Tuesday August 21, 2001 |
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Bosnian Serb officials said yesterday they were building a war-crimes case against Alija Izetbegovic that could send the former Bosnian president and Muslim leader to the U.N. tribunal for trial.
Izetbegovic, who led Bosnia through the 1992-1995 war, suggested this weekend that he was ready to appear before the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, if summoned.
Izetbegovic was already accused by a Bosnian Serb court of alleged war crimes, but peace terms that ended the war do not allow local courts to try suspects. They must be tried by the U.N. tribunal.
"There is new evidence now which can strengthen the existing accusations,'' Bosnian Serb government adviser Sinisa Djordjevic told The Associated Press yesterday.
Djordjevic gave no details but said Izetbegovic was in command when crimes were committed against Serbs by the Bosnian Muslim-led Army. He said the material would be given to the court by mid-September.
The tribunal has convicted dozens of suspects for war crimes and related charges arising out of the wars that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is in prison in The Hague, awaiting trial. He has been indicted on charges of atrocities against Kosovo Albanians in 1999.
Most of the suspects are Serbs, and as a result, Serbs in Bosnia and elsewhere have accused the tribunal of favoring Muslims, Croats or ethnic Albanians, their opponents in the conflicts.
The most prominent suspects are Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb wartime leader, and Ratko Mladic, his wartime general. Both are at large.
In early August, three Bosnian Muslim war-crimes suspects, including two generals, pled innocent at the Hague court to charges that they oversaw the execution of hundreds of Serbs and Croats.
The Sarajevo weekly Dani recently asked Izetbegovic whether he thought he could be accused of complicity.
In a written response this weekend, Izetbegovic denied any involvement in crimes, and said he and close aides "prevented crimes wherever we could and we have mostly succeeded in our efforts."
But he suggested he was ready to appear in The Hague if asked, saying he would "not hesitate to share the destiny of my generals."
"Let the Hague Tribunal do its job," Izetbegovic told Dani. "That's the place where Bosnian history is written."
The tribunal was established by the United Nations in 1993 to try those responsible for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.