Arrest Fever

As more and more senior war crimes suspects end up in The Hague, speculators wonder who will be arrested next.

Arrest Fever

As more and more senior war crimes suspects end up in The Hague, speculators wonder who will be arrested next.

Thursday, 10 November, 2005

In the wake of the arrest for war crimes of Republika Srpska's chief-of-staff Momir Talic in Austria last month, speculation about who is likely next to follow him to The Hague is rife.

Immediately after Talic's arrest, the Belgrade news agency BETA published a list of names of individuals which, citing sources in The Hague, it says are sealed indictees. Meanwhile, Republika Srpska's justice minister, Milan Trbojevic, announced that he had it on good authority that the indictment against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic would is be extended to include events in Bosnia.

Trobojevic also reported that at least ten leading individuals from Republika Srpska would be asked to appear in the Hague as witnesses in relation to this. "Alongside Momcilo Krajisnik and Biljana Plavsic, I am on that list as well", he said, adding that witnesses have no immunity from arrest and may therefore find themselves in the capacity of the accused.

Trbojevic, nevertheless, remains sceptical about both the list of sealed indictments and the extention of the Milosevic indictment. "It is possible that the information has deliberately been leaked in order to gauge the effect," he said.

Citing, as examples, Rajko Kuzmanovic, dean of Banja Luka University, and Jova Rosic, president of Republika Srpska's Constitutional Court, he said: "I know for sure that some of those people did not participate in the work of the then Crisis Committee [the body responsible for organising ethnic cleansing], and especially in the decision-making process."

Krstan Simic, Banja Luka lawyer and defence counsel for indicted Bosnian Serbs in The Hague, says that it is possible to make educated guesses as to which individuals may be wanted for war crimes on the basis of the published indictments against Gen. Talic and Radoslav Brdjanin, a member of parliament arrested in July.

"Many people in Republika Srpska today have a legitimate fear of arrest on the basis of sealed indictments," Simic says.

Speculation about future arrests extends into Croatia where no individual involved in the Croatian Army's incursions into Bosnia as well as the offensives against Serb-held territory within Croatia can ignore The Hague.

Although senior officials at The Hague have publicly stated that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has not been indicted, this has not stopped speculation to this effect in the region.

Sarajevo weekly Dani has reported that the Croatian President is subject of an investigation, citing reliable sources in The Hague. And former Croatian Supreme Court judge Vladimir Primorac has been reported saying that Tudjman is "at The Hague's door" as a result of the Croatian Army's role in the Bosnian war.

Branko Peric is an editor with the Alternative Information Network in Banja Luka.

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