Bosnian Serb General Said Tortured in Netherlands,
Claims of Kidnapping Prompt Tribunal to Reexamine Case
(THE HAGUEFEBRUARY 28) Lawyers for Djordje Djukic, a Bosnian Serb general held by the U.N. criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia, said on Wednesday he was being held unlawfully and demanded the tribunal release him.
Djukic has been held in custody in The Hague with Bosnian Serb Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic since February 12 after NATO soldiers whisked them to the Netherlands from a Sarajevo jail.
"We are of the view that the detention of General Djukic is expiring tomorrow," Milan Vujin, a Belgrade lawyer representing Djukic, told a public hearing at the tribunal in The Hague. "After tomorrow this trial chamber is not entitled to hold Djukic in custody and he should be released without any restrictions on his movement," Vujin said.
"He was subjected to torture and questioning which would last for 20 hours a day. Police would come in teams to see him... the only breaks he would have were for food and drink. We think public opinion should be informed about this," Vujin said.
In response chief prosecutor Richard Goldstone said the kidnapping allegation gave grounds for re-examining the order to detain Djukic. "It's a matter of concern to us and it's a matter we would require more time to look into," he said. But he said the tribunal was able to keep Djukic in custody and pointed out that the general was mentioned in annexes to tribunal indictments against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic.
"I should bring to the chamber's attention the fact that yesterday we were informed the higher court in Sarajevo has... extended its detention order for another month," he said. "We can apply for a further extension of the order here."
Djukic, dressed in a light brown sweater and blue jeans, identified himself as a senior logistics officer in the Bosnian Serb army and said he was arrested while travelling to assess surrendering part of an installation to the NATO peace force.
"On the way I was kidnapped along with my fellow travellers by the (Bosnian) police. I do not know what order they followed in doing so and what requests they carried out because the act of arrest and detention was contrary to all international regulations," Djukic told the tribunal.
Presiding Judge Claude Jorda of France adjourned the tribunal until 1400 GMT while defence and prosecution made submissions about a release date. But he stressed that Djukic, if released, would be returned to Bosnian custody in Sarajevo.
Berserkistan's Earlier Coverage of
Gen. Djordje Djukic and Col. Aleksa Krsmanovic
Under Cover of Darkness, High Security,
Djukic and Krsmanovic Spirited off to The Hague
The two senior Serb Army officers at the center of last week's Balkan crisis were flown to the Netherlands to face war crime charges Monday night (Feb 12). The unannounced transer of Gen. Djordje Djukic and Col. Aleksa Krsmanovic took place after night had fallen in Sarajevoand under extraordinary security.
The men were rushed in Land Rovers from the central prison to a stadium with an escort of armored personnel carriers. Djukic and Krsmanovic, wearing flak jackets and helmets, were under heavy security from the NATO-led peace force. They were driven in a convoy bristling with guns pointed in all directions to board a helicopter for Sarajevo's airport. There, they were placed on a waiting military plane.
In a statement issued in Brussels and Washington, NATO said it ordered the NATO implementation force to make a Hercules C-130 cargo plane available to fly the pair to the Hague. "The operation carried out this evening was a multi-national one involving several nations participating in the IFOR," said the statement, adding that the move had been made at the request of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The flight took off shortly after 7 p.m. Sarajevo time. "It is a further indication of NATO's active support of the work of the International War Crimes Tribunal and its readiness, within its capabilities, to assist the tribunal in carrying out its tasks," the NATO statement said.
According to the statement, Bosnian authorities had "given their approval for the release of these two officers into the hands of the tribunal following initial investigations by tribunal officials as to alleged war crimes." Tribunal officials have said there is enough information to warrant holding them for investigation, but they have not yet been charged. Four other prisoners held by the Bosnians would be released, said a Bosnian government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The transfer of the men came only hours after U.S. State Department envoy Richard Holbrooke, who spent the weekend getting the peace process back on track, returned to Sarajevo for another round of talks with president Alija Izetbegovic.
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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