War Crimes Update
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
has indicted 52 people—45 Serbs and 7 Croats—on charges of
genocide and crimes against humanity. The International Red Cross
reports that Bosnia's rival factions are holding an additional 63
people suspected of having committed war crimes.

LATEST UPDATE: February 29, 1996

Tribunal Hears Case Against Milan Martic,
Will Render Its Decision on March 8th

Milan Martic The 1995 cluster bombings of Zagreb ordered by Croatian Serb leader Milan Martic should be treated as a war crime, a prosecutor told a U.N. tribunal Tuesday. The defiant Martic has admitted ordering the two attacks that rained 3,000 cluster bombs on the Croatian capital last May, but says they were in self-defense. The prosecution asked the tribunal to confirm the indictment against Martic. A decision will be delivered on March 8.

Swedish prosecutor Eric Ostberg strenuously disagreed to the self-defense claim, putting his case before the war crimes tribunal judges at a hearing aimed at forcing Martic out of his safe haven in Serb-controlled Bosnia. "The shelling of Zagreb was ... a terror retaliation and it was unlawful," Ostberg said, claiming the attack was aimed exclusively at civilians.

Ostberg's American partner summed up the prosecution case. "The intent of this attack was to murder civilians and to terrorize the population, and they were successful," said Gregory Kehoe, a Florida-based attorney. "Such conduct simply cannot be tolerated as humanitarian law moves into the 21st century."

Serb cluster bombs detonated near a children’s hospital, a nursing home and the national dance academy in Zagreb, tribunal investigator Kevin Curtis said. Seven civilians were killed and hundreds injured.

Martic is the former president of the self-styled Republic of Serbian Krajina, carved out of Croatia after fighting in 1991. The Croatian government recaptured the territory last May. The judicial panel is expected to rule on the war crimes issue March 8.

Thumbing his nose at the U.N. court, Martic gave an interview to Associated Press Television as recently as last week from the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka. "I really did order the bombing of Zagreb and I will never deny it," Martic told APTV. But he claimed he did it to save a convoy of refugees fleeing a Croatian attack on territory he controlled.

The indictment against Milan Martic

War Crimes Tribunal To Indict First Bosnian Muslims
(PARIS, February 21) The War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia will indict its first Bosnian Muslim suspects next month, the president of the U.N. court said Wednesday. Antonio Cassese told reporters that Muslim suspects would be indicted in a few weeks, but he did not say how many suspects would be charged and did not provide details about the atrocities.

From the start, the tribunal had said it also would examine allegations against Muslims. But its focus has been on alleged atrocities committed by the Serbs, and no Muslims have yet been indicted. Wednesday’s announcement that Muslims definitely would be indicted was seen as an attempt to reassure the Bosnian Serbs that the tribunal won’t overlook Muslim atrocities.

Omarska Detention Camp Bosnia's Genocide Claim
Against Serbia to Reopen

(The Hague, Feb 21) The International Court of Justice said on Tuesday (Feb 20) it would reopen hearings on April 29 in Bosnia's three-year-old genocide case against Serbia. The U.N. court concluded a first phase of emergency hearings in the case in September, 1993, by ordering both sides to do everything in their power to prevent acts of genocide.

Bosnia's suit accused Serbia and Montenegro — the remnant of the old Yugoslav federal republic — of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention by arming and supporting rebel military and paramilitary groups in Bosnia. The case predated the establishment in May, 1993, of the U.N. tribunal for former Yugoslavia which has jurisdiction over individuals responsible for genocide and war crimes.

The court — the main judicial body of the United Nations — settles disputes between states in accordance with international law. Serbia contests the court's jurisdiction over the case and the April hearings will be confined to this issue as the court's jurisdiction must be established before it can consider the substance of a dispute.

Adm. Leighton Smith holds NATO Wanted PosterNATO Prints Posters of Accused War Criminals
(On the USS George Washington, February 19, 1996) The NATO-led peacekeeping force said it was distributing a wanted poster to its soldiers to help them spot and capture the 51 suspected war criminals indicted and at large. The poster, printed on blue card, carries 17 grainy photographs under the heading "War criminals indicted by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia." Thirty-four people for whom matching photographs were not available were also named.

The two best known suspects are Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic and his army commander, General Ratko Mladic. Karadzic, whose wild, bushy hairstyle has made him instantly recognisable on television news reports around the world, is described as "brownish-gray hair, flamboyant" and Mladic as "short, stocky, red-faced." IFOR has emphasised its mandate does not allow it to hunt for them but said soldiers may hold them if they run into them.

Djukic and Krsmanovic See Their Lawyers
(The Hague, February 19, 1996) Lawyers for the two officers, General Djorje Djukic and Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic, said in The Hague on Monday they had held first meetings with their clients. Neither man has yet been formally indicted.

Djukic and Krsmanovic Transfer to The Hague
Points Up Problems with War Crimes Tribunal

(The Hague, February 14, 1996) The
extradition of the first two major war criminal suspects to The Hague has drawn attention to the shortcoming of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. With 282 staff and a £25 million budget, little has been accomplished since it was set up in 1993.

Gen. Djordje Djukic and Col. Aleksa Krsmanovic are only second and third inmates of the tribunal's exclusive detention center and it is far from clear that they will be put on trial. The tribunal has issued 52 indictments for war crimes—45 Serbs and seven Croats. Djukic and Krsmanovic were not among them. The principal problem the tribunal faces is that it has no powers of arrest. Since the majority of those indicted are believed to be sheltering in either Serbia or Croatia, that means securing the compliance of Presidents Milosevic and Tudjman. Visits to both countries by officials of the tribunal have failed to secure concessions.

Dusan Tadic So far, only one of the 52 has been detained: Dusan Tadic, charged with murder, rape and torture. His trial early next month is hardly enough to occupy 11 judges. The latest inmates of Scheveningen prison were detained under an open-ended rule that allows the tribunal to request the extradition of anyone it wishes to interrogate and hold them indefinitely. The tribunal must determine whether there is sufficient evidence against the men to charge them, a decision a spokesman promised would be made in days.

Red Cross Correct Reports of
700 in 'Slave Labor' Across Bosnia

(Sarajevo, February 11, 1996) Bosnian Serbs may still be forcing some local residents in conquered areas to work for them, but most of the workers are now free, the international Red Cross said Saturday (Feb 10). Anne-Sophie Bonefeld, the Red Cross spokeswoman in Sarajevo, said the organization had no reports of any recent forced-work programs that amounted to slave labor, as had been alleged in news reports.

She said several hundred Muslim and Croat men in Serb-held areas, if they did not serve in the army, had been required to perform non-military tasks. These ranged from dangerous work like digging trenches near front lines to routine tasks such as office work, she said. Many of the men were able to go home to their families at night, and others returned home on weekends, she said. "You couldn't call it slave labor."

Two weeks ago, the Bosnian Serbs ended the entire "working obligation" program, which Bonefeld described as a positive step. She said the Red Cross believed a small number of non-Serb men may still be engaged in forced labor in isolated villages and towns, but had no figures. Many of the men released from their working obligation had come to the Red Cross office in Banja Luka, northern Bosnia, seeking advice on how to leave Serb-held territory or to locate their families.

"It's a rather positive story, that these men are no longer under working obligation," Bonefeld said. During Bosnia's 42-month war, there were numerous well-documented accounts of non-Serbs being subjected to forced labor, often in dangerous combat-zone areas. Under the U.S.-brokered peace accord, all detainees, civilian or military, are supposed to be freed unless suspected of war crimes. The Red Cross says more than 150 POWs remain held in violation of this agreement, but it has no firm figures on how many civilians might be stuck against their will in areas they wish to leave.

On Saturday (Feb 10), The New York Times reported that hundreds of people were being forced into what amounts to slave labor in dozens of towns and villages in Serbian-held areas of Bosnia. The Times cited the case of a 15-year-old boy from an isolated village who showed a reporter the document that bound him as a forced laborer to the local military unit. The paper gave the boy's name and that of his 16-year-old brother and said they and their horse "are working for the needs of this brigade." The boy, who said he was afraid to have his name made public, said that for three months he and his brother have been forced to provide firewood for the military unit.

Croatia Drafts Law to Speed War Criminal Prosecution
(Zagreb, February 9, 1996) Croatia's government on Friday (Feb 9) introduced draft legislation to increase cooperation with the International War Crimes Tribunal. The bill will proceed through Croatian parliamentary procedure. The draft law regulates the communication between Croatia and tribunal, the functioning of the tribunal on Croatian territory and the extradition of people charged with war crimes. The existing pact between the Croatian government and the tribunal lacked a proper legal framework wherby certain provisions of the tribunals statute would be incorporated into Croatian legislation, Croatian Radio reported.

Warren Christoper Promises War Crime Probe,
Bosnia's Izetbegovic Pledges POW Release

(Sarajevo, February 5, 1996) U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher pledged strong U.S. support for the search of the thousands of civilians presumed to have been massacred during the war. In Sarajevo, Christopher said Assistant State Secretary John Shattuck would soon go to Ljubija and Omarska, both purported mass grave sites in northwestern Bosnia. At a news conference with U.S. Secretary Christopher, Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic said his side would soon release the last five war prisoners it holds.

NATO Pledges to Preserve Evidence of War Crimes
(Munich, February 3, 1996) NATO secretary general Javier Solana says the peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina will try to preserve evidence of war crimes. Mr. Solana made the comments at an international security conference in Munich, Germany. Speaking to reporters, Solana said NATO will guarantee that evidence in Bosnia will be maintained so that the international war crimed tribunal can operate.

Although the monitoring of suspected mass graves in Bosnia was never part of the original Bosnia mandate for NATO, Mr. Solana said that troops will monitor and report any suspicious activities near the sites. He refused to say exactly what NATO would be fdoing to preserve evidence of war crimes, but he once again stated that they would detain and andicted war criminals they should encounter.

War Crimes Tribunal Accuses Serbia of Non-Cooperation
(Paris, February 1, 1996) The chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia accused Serbia on Thursday of failing to cooperate and expressed pessimism about catching indicted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic soon, Reuterss reported. Serbia's "attitude has always been to refuse to recognise the existence and legality of the court," Richard Goldstone told the French daily Le Monde in an interview.

Goldstone said Serbia had agreed to let an investigator work in Belgrade provided he was in a U.N. building, did not call himself a representative of the tribunal and sought government permission to interview witnesses. Goldstone said he reluctantly agreed to the restraints but "the person I appointed has waited for months for a visa that has never been granted." He also doubted that Karadzic or Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, both indicated for war crimes, would be arrested.

"I'm not terribly optimistic about their capture in the short term," Goldstone said. "If they continue to stay in their bunkers surround by armed men" He said Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had committed himself to cooperating with the tribunal, based in The Hague, when he signed the Bosnian peace accord in Paris in December. Goldstone said the tribunal had to denounce "serious violations" of the treaty to the U.N. Security Council, which could lead to reimposition of economic sanctions. "This is an important threat for the Belgrade government, and I hope that the international community will know how to use it. There will be no other possibility," Reuterss quoted him as saying.

Croatia Eases Path to War Criminal Extradition
(Zagreb, February 1, 1996 Croatia, under growing pressure to hand over war criminals indicted by a U.N. tribunal, is changing a law banning extradition of its citizens in a possible sign of compliance. "The Croatian constitution disallows extradition of its citizens," Justice Minister Miroslav Separovic told the Croatian weekly newspaper Globus. "But we have announced we will pass a special law regulating our relations with the International Court in The Hague," Separovic said. He gave no details. "The law is being drafted now and will be processed in the government next week... the law will precisely define our relations with The Hague and I think all possible doubts will be resolved," he said.

Tribunal Seeks Goldstone Replacement
The tribunal is looking for a new leader to replace chief prosecutor Richard Goldstone, who plans to step down in June or July. Goldstone intends to return to South Africa to serve on the country's constitutional court, but his departure raises serious questions about war crimes prosecutions. He has been a driving force in pressing for prosecutions as part of the Dayton Peace Accord. Goldstone is nearing the end of a two-year leave of absence from South African president Nelson Mandela. Goldstone was instrumental in resolving political violence charges in South Africa. A successor who can be approved by the U.N. will be difficult to find. Some 150 investigators, lawyers, translators, analysts and clerks serve under Goldstone at the tribunal's offices in The Hague, including some 20 laywers and FBI agents on loan from the U.S. Justice Department. The tribunal appointed a special team to investigate charges against Serbia's president Milosevic, Croatia's president Tudjman and Bosnia's president Itzetbegovic. The tribunal has reported little progress in their prosecution of the three.

Muslims captured by Serb forcesSurvivors Tell of Slaughter of 2,000
in Warehouse Near Srebrenica

The Associated Press reports that new evidence that Serb militias massacred up to 7,000 Bosnian Muslims will be handed over to the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. According to reports, John Shattuck, U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights, was in eastern Bosnia collecting evidence of alleged war crimes.

"We believe there are up to 7,000 missing, and I'm afraid their fate could very well be very clear from the mass graves and mass executions we've heard about in the area," he told reporters. Shattuck said survivors have named the abandoned, bombed-out village of Glogova, nestled among snowy hills, as the grave of those killed in one of the worst of the alleged war crimes. "Up to 2,000 people were herded into a warehouse and then fired upon by grenades and other weapons, and anyone who was left was shot when they left" the town of Kravice, just up the road, Shattuck said. Kravice was part of the eastern Muslim enclave of Srebrenica that was overrun by the Bosnian Serb forces on July 11, 1995. Shattuck did not explain how or why the bodies were moved from Kravice to Glogova.

Shattuck said he could see blood spatters and massive holes in the warehouse from the heavy weapons and grenades. "Two thousand missing people very nearby could mean that up to 2,000 people could be buried in this mass grave," Shattuck said, standing in a desolate, snow-covered field in front of a gutted house. He predicted diggers would begin work at Glogova with the spring thaw.

Shattuck also toured Nova Kasaba, another reputed mass grave, and Konjevic Polje, where witnesses say 200 people were shot as they tried to flee along along the road. In the town of Karakaj, Shattuck said his team looked at a school house and gymnasium where Muslims were reportedly held before being taken out in groups of 30 and shot before open pits.

"This is the evidence many eyewitnesses have provided," he said.

Indicted War Criminals

Radovan Karadzic
RADOVAN KARADZIC, the Bosnian Serb political leader and military commander Ratko Mladic faces renewed prosecution pledges by the U.N.'s war crimes tribunal. Richard Goldstone, chief prosecutor, said Monday that "it would be inconsistent with my independence, which is guaranteed by the U.N. Security Council." Karadzic spends most of his time in Bosnian Serb headquarters in Pale, while international prosecutors compile evidence against him and against Gen. Mladic. Karadzic has kept silent except for occasional television appearances.

Ratko Mladic GEN. RATKO MLADIC has not been seen in public for over a month. His response to the peace accord was an angry, emotional speech in Vlasenica last year, in which he said, "We cannot allow our people to come under the rule of butchers." Since then, his troops have cooperated with NATO forces. He was last reported to be at his underground headquarters in the village of Han Pijesak, north of Sarajevo. The Bosnian peace accord requires both men to resign, though neither has done so. Instead, they keep out of sight to avoid being taken into custody by NATO. The Serbs and NATO seem keen to avoid any meeting which could embarrass the alliance and result in the arrest of Karadzic and Mladic before the time is ripe.

BRIG. GEN. TIHOMIR BLASKIC, a former Bosnian Croat commander, will be extradited to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague by spring. Blaskic is wanted for his alleged participation in the 1993 massacre of Muslims in Ahmici, in central Bosnia. Blaskic, Chief of Staff of the Bosnian Croat Army, was promoted to staff member of the Croatian amry's main inspectorate by Croatian president Franjo Tudjman's office the day after his indictment.

Borislav Herak BORISLAV HERAK, the only convicted war criminal in the Bosnian War, now denies his crimes despite well-documented testimony. Herak confessed to 20 murders and the rape of seven women, demonstrating at his trial how he killed his victims. "They said the rapes would be good for the Serbian fighters' morale," Herak explained at his trial. The killing of young women, he said, "was being done to take revenge on Muslims, who had done the same thing in World War II to Serbian women." CNN reports Herak claims the confession was forced. "I was beaten for seven days until I signed a paper saying I'd killed and raped. I didn't want to do that," he said. Herak wants to turn witness against 42 Serbians he claims ordered war atrocities in hopes the war crimes tribunal will reverse his death sentence. Herak's alledged accomplice, 35-year-old Sretko Damjanovic, challenges Herak's claims of innocence in an interview with The New York Times. "Let Herak talk if he wants, but it's all lies," said Damjanovic. "Now he says he didn't do anything. Well, that is a guy that I know pretty well. He's not really clean, if you know what I mean. He never was. He's an animal. They never should have given him a gun."

Additional resources
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia from the United Nations
The Massacre of Muslims at Srebrenica from The Washington Post
Coalition for International Justice
Reports concerning human rights abuses in Bosnia published by Intac Access
Major War Criminals/Suspects from CalTech's Bosnia Site
Reports on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia from CalTech's Bosnia Site
Six Possible Grave Sites Identified By US Intelligence Agencies from The Christian Science Monitor
Exposing Europe's Worst Massacre Since the Holocaust from The Christian Science Monitor

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