Uncategorized @bs

No Results’ From Serbia-Bosnia War Crimes Deal

19. February 2014.00:00
Not a single person has been brought to justice within a year of the signing of a landmark protocol on cooperation in war crimes cases between Bosnia and Serbia.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The long-awaited protocol between Bosnia and Serbia was signed last February and the exchange of evidence in war crimes cases began – a move intended to stop suspects hiding behind state borders in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries.

The signing raised hopes that cases that were previously impossible to prosecute would be brought to court, but so far this has not happened.

Some evidence has been exchanged in two cases of suspects accused of genocide and other crimes in Srebrenica in 1995, but those cases were not sent to the Serbian war crimes prosecutor’s office.

Earlier this month, the Bosnian state prosecutor’s office withdrew its proposal to send the two Srebrenica cases for prosecution in Serbia because it did not have all the necessary witness statements.

The cantonal prosecutor’s office in the north-western town of Bihac however did send three war crimes cases to the Serbian judiciary and the verdicts have already been handed down.

But these cases were handed over under an agreement on legal aid between Bosnia and Serbia that was signed nine years ago, not the more recent and much-touted protocol. Meanwhile the Bosnian state prosecutor’s office has not requested any war crimes case to be transferred to it.

One of the biggest problems in the prosecution of war crimes was dual citizenship, and the inability to extradite people from Bosnia to Serbia or vice versa.

That was the reason for signing the protocol on cooperation between the prosecutor’s offices of Bosnia and Serbia, a move which was approved by victims’ associations.

Munira Subasic, president of the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves, said that she initially expected that new cases would be launched after the signing of the protocol. After a year has passed, she now says that she was mistaken.

“We gave our approval for this protocol because we wanted justice, but nothing is happening,” she said.

Subasic said she will ask for a meeting with the chief prosecutor in order to find out the reasons for the recent withdrawal of the indictment for genocide and war crimes in Srebrenica. Cases against former Bosnian Serb policemen Nedeljko Milidragovic, Aleksa Golijanin and Milisav Gavric were also supposed to be handed over.

Milidragovic and Goljanin are charged with genocide against Bosniaks from Srebrenica before the Bosnian court. However, Serbia’s chief prosecutor for war crimes, Vladimir Vukcevic, said that the transfer of the case does not mean it will have the same legal qualification in Serbia, which means that if something is qualified as genocide in Bosnia, it may not be in Serbia.

Despite what appears to be a lack of progress, the Bosnian prosecution still praises its relationship with its Serbian counterpart.

“We have very good cooperation in several cases,” said Boris Grubesic, spokesperson for the Bosnian prosecutor’s office, although he added that he cannot say how many because that information is “confidential”.

Meanhile the cantonal prosecutor in Bihac, Jasmin Mesic, has succeeded in seeing convictions in Belgrade without using the protocol.

Earlier this month, the higher court in Belgrade sentenced Djuro Tadic to ten years in prison for participating in the killings of 18 Bosniak civilians near Bihac. His case was transferred to Belgrade from Bihac based on an agreement between the Bosnian and Serbian justice ministries on assistance in international legal matters.

“There is no problem that cannot be solved over the phone, and through mutual legal assistance,” Mesic said.

Amer Jahić

This post is also available in: Bosnian