Briefly Noted ...

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 307, 31 March – 4 April 2003)

Briefly Noted ...

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 307, 31 March – 4 April 2003)

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005

Croatian police this week arrested war crimes fugitive Ivica Rajic, 45, in Zagreb this week.


Rajic has been indicted by The Hague for the murder of 16 Muslims in Central Bosnia in 1993. He had been on the run since an arrest warrant was issued two years later.


Rajic is the only one of 18 Bosnian Croats indicted for war crimes who has not yet gone to The Hague.


MLADIC PROMISE


Under intense pressure from the international community, Serbia has promised to hunt down key fugitive Ratko Mladic, former head of the Bosnian Serb army.


Mladic was until recently looked after in style by elements of the Yugoslav army in Belgrade.


But since the March 12 murder of Prime Minister Zoran Djinjic, Belgrade has launched a ruthless crackdown on Milosevic loyalists, and this week promised that Mladic, now in hiding, would be found.


BOBETKO INDICTED BUT FREE


The Hague tribunal said this week that a war crimes indictment has finally been served on Croatia’s ailing former army commander, Janko Bobetko.


Doctors have ruled he is too ill to travel to The Hague to stand trial, and the issuing of the indictment also saw the automatic cancellation of an arrest warrant.


BELGIUM CLOSES DOOR


Belgium has tightened its war crimes laws to make it almost impossible for human rights activists to bring a case against Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.


Activists had planned to use a Belgian law that allows war crimes cases to be brought against non-citizens to indict Sharon for the massacre of Palestinians in Beirut in 1982.


News that the appeals court approved the charge – once Sharon had left office – caused an outrage in Israel last year.


But the move now looks unlikely. The lower house of parliament voted 63-48 to approve amendments to the law that would allow prosecution of non-Belgians, for crimes outside Belgium, only to be brought by people living in that country for three years.


In fact, the genocide convention and some other human rights treaties include promises that states will take action against offenders who appear in their territory. But few signatories have converted such pledges into concrete laws.


Chris Stephen is IWPR’s project manager in The Hague.


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