Srebrenica suspect surrenders

A Bosnian Serb charged in connection with the massacre of 8000 Muslims during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war is to surrender to the UN war crimes tribunal.

Around 8000 Muslims were massacred in Srebrenica

Bosnian Serb President Dragan Cavic said on Tuesday that the transfer of Ljubomir Borovcanin to The Hague will take place within the next few days.

Cavic, however, did not elaborate whether Borovcanin had already turned himself in to Bosnian Serb or Serbian authorities.

In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces killed 8000 Muslim males when they captured the eastern town of Srebrenica in the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

At the time Borovcanin was deputy commander of special police forces.

Borovcanin, 45, is accused by the UN court with complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity.

War crimes

Cavic hailed Borovcanin’s decision as a “patriotic act” and called other war crimes suspects to “follow the example of those who [by surrendering] contributed to removing the political burden from Republika Srpska”.

Srebrenica prime suspect Ratko Mladic is still at large
Srebrenica prime suspect Ratko Mladic is still at large

Srebrenica prime suspect Ratko
Mladic is still at large

The country, which along with the Muslim-Croat Federation makes up Bosnia, is under constant international pressure to start arresting war crimes suspects.

However, almost a decade since the Srebrenica massacre the main culprits – Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his army chief Ratko Mladic – still remain at large.

Meanwhile, Bosnia peace overseer Paddy Ashdown has fired Croat Dragan Covic from Bosnia’s tripartite presidency for refusing to step down in the face of serious corruption charges.

“I decided to require Dragan Covic to step down from his position in the presidency with immediate effect,” Ashdown told a news conference in Sarajevo on Tuesday.

Ashdown together with US and European Union officials had repeatedly urged Covic to step down after state prosecutors indicted him this month together with six other Bosnian Croats for customs evasion, corruption and abuse of office.

International pressure

The alleged offences were carried out between 2000 and 2003, while Covic was deputy prime minister of Bosnia’s Muslim-Croat federation.

Ashdown said his decision was part of a wider ruling requiring that officials indicted by a court should step down in future to preserve Bosnia’s international reputation.

Paddy Ashdown (L) says Bosnia'sreputation is paramount
Paddy Ashdown (L) says Bosnia’sreputation is paramount

Paddy Ashdown (L) says Bosnia’s
reputation is paramount

The presidency, in charge of foreign policy in a country aspiring to join Nato and the EU, would face serious problems with a member who would be ignored by these bodies, he added.

Covic clinging to office “cannot be allowed to impede the country’s future”, Ashdown said.

The Croat, who was due to take over the rotating chairmanship of the presidency in June, had no choice but to accept Ashdown’s decision, which he called “unconstitutional”.

Last week he refused calls to resign, complaining that Bosnian Croats were under attack.

Sweeping powers

Ashdown, a former British politician, has sweeping powers to enact laws and sack politicians obstructing implementation of the Dayton peace accords in post-war Bosnia, which is made up of the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation.

Covic is the third Bosnia presidency member to be sacked or forced to leave under international pressure since the Office of the High Representative was set up to oversee implementation of the accords after the 1992-95 Bosnia war.

Ashdown said that Covic would not be banned from activity in his Croatian Democratic Union party. The party supported Covic in his early defiance but backed off from threats to pull out of government altogether if Ashdown dared sack him.

Ashdown indicated he may also sack Transportation and Communications Minister Branko Dokic if he refuses to resign over an indictment accusing him of abuse of office while he served as minister in the Serb Republic.

Source: Reuters