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Another Bosnian Serb Surrenders

Tribunal Update 66: Last Week in The Hague (March 2-7, 1998)

On 4 March, Dragoljub Kunarac, surrendered to the French members of SFOR in Foca, eastern Bosnia, the site of the crime of which he is accused. On the same day, Human Rights Watch launched a campaign "Rape is a War Crime: Arrest Now!". The two events may not be directly linked, but their coincidence is interesting.

Kunarac is one of eight people named in the Tribunal's first indictment dealing with rape and sexual offences as war crimes. Known as the Foca indictment and issued in June 1996, this covers the brutal regime of gang-rape, torture and enslavement which Muslim women were subjected to in Foca between April 1992 and February 1993.

After the Bosnian Serb take-over of the city, Muslim women were detained in houses, apartments and motels, run in the manner of brothels. Many of them - some as young as 12 - were subjected to humiliating and degrading conditions, brutal beatings and to sexual assaults, including rape, by Bosnian Serb soldiers, policemen and members of paramilitary groups.

Kunarac was the commander of a special volunteer unit of irregular Serb soldiers, mainly from Montenegro. According to the indictment, he was responsible for the acts of soldiers subordinate to him and knew or had reason to know that they had sexually assaulted Muslim women at his headquarters. It is also alleged that he was personally involved in torture and rape of at least four women.

Unlike other Bosnian Serbs who surrendered before him, Kunarac did so without much publicity, only stating that he has "full confidence in the Tribunal". His initial appearance before Trial Chamber II is set for 9 March.

Whether the message of the Erdemovic sentence has reached Kunarac remains to be seen.

As this was going to be published, Sarajevo based Radio Zid reported Kunarac was sentenced for life. We will have a full report in the next issue of Tribunal Update.