Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Briefly Noted

By Stacy Sullivan in The Hague (TU 315, 26-30 May 2003)
By IWPR

Jovica Stanisic, the former head of Serbia's state security apparatus, is to be transferred to the tribunal next week, Serbian government officials said June 4.


Stanisic, who was arrested in Belgrade in March in connection with the assassination of Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, was indicted by the tribunal on May 1.


He is accused of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war.


If he is extradited, he will be the third official from Milosevic’s regime to land in Hague custody in the past month.


The tribunal’s indictment alleges that Stanisic and his associate Franko Simatovic, were members of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at driving out non-Serbs from parts of Croatia and Bosnia between 1991-1995.


Stanisic's lawyer, Vladan Vukcevic, has requested that the former spy chief be granted provisional release from jail on medical grounds.


According to Reuters, Stanisic's medical report says said he suffers from ulcerous colitis caused by stress.


SESELJ HUNGER STRIKE REPORT DENIED


Contrary to persistent reports that Vojislav Seselj has begun a hunger strike, Hague spokesman Jim Landale said the leader of the Serbian Radical Party appeared to be eating regularly.


Last weekend, according to B92, a radical party official said Seselj was planning a hunger strike to protest the tribunal’s refusal to allow him to represent himself at his war crimes trial.


Seselj is also reportedly upset by the fact that the presiding judge in his case, Wolfgang Schomburg, is a German. “The state of Germany has traditionally been hostile towards Serbia and the Serbian people,” Seselj wrote in a letter to the tribunal’s president.


“Whenever I see Wolfgang Schomburt, I remember Auschwitz, Mauthausen and Jasenovac. The smell of crematoriums and gas chambers comes into The Hague Courtroom with him.”


GENERAL TALIC BURIED


The former chief of staff of the Bosnian Serb army, General Momir Talic, was buried with full military honours in his native village of Piskavica, near Banja Luka, on May 31.


The general, who was accused by the tribunal of genocide, died of cancer in Belgrade on May 28.


He was arrested by Austrian police in August 1999 while attending a conference with other senior officers from Bosnia. His indictment had not been made public – and, at the time, he was the highest ranking officer from the former Yugoslavia to have been apprehended.


His trial in The Hague began in January 1992, but nine months into it, Talic was released due to ill health.


In spite of the war crimes indictment, Talic was buried as a national hero and several thousand friends, fellow soldiers and supporters attended his funeral, though none of Republika Srpska’s political leaders came along.


An excerpt from his eulogy read, "Injustice and untruth have destroyed General Talic, who has done everything in his power to protect the Serb people.”


Among the remembrances laid at his grave was a wreath from Radovan Karadzic, and another from “friends in the detention unit”.


RIGHT GROUP COOPERATION PLEA


The New York-based organisation Human Rights Watch called on the US government to press Serbia for better cooperation with The Hague before pronouncing Belgrade eligible for continued US aid.


Testifying before the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the executive director of Human Rights Watch Europe and Central Asia Division, Elizabeth Anderson, stated, “In the past year, the Serbian government has made some progress on cooperation with the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal and accountability for war-time atrocities. But is still lacks clear political leadership to ensure that all those responsible for war crimes are held accountable.”


NEW MASS GRAVE DISCOVERY


Bosnian forensic experts said this week that they had exhumed 40 bags of human remains from a mass grave near Vlasenica.


The remains are believed to be those of Muslims killed by Serb forces in eastern Bosnia in 1992.


It appeared as if the bodies had been unearthed from another grave and re-buried in the one recently excavated in a cover-up effort, according to Murat Hurtic, the head of the forensic team.


The experts said on June 4 it was impossible to determine how many bodies were in the grave until workers had the opportunity to study the bodies.


Several personal possessions were found among the remains, but only a cheque-book belonging to a Muslim woman was readable, and the forensic team said they could not be certain that her body was among the remains.


The team said they also found pieces of wire, indicating that the people in the grave might have been summarily executed.


“SERB ADOLF” TRANSFERRED TO ITALIAN JAIL


Goran Jelisic, the commander of the Luka Camp in Brcko, convicted of crimes against humanity by The Hague, was transferred to Italy to serve his 40-year prison term, the tribunal announced last week.


Jelisic, who gave himself the nickname “Serb Adolf” during the Bosnian war, was arrested by SFOR troops in January 1998. He was found guilty in October 1999 and launched an unsuccessful appeal.


He is the first war crimes suspect convicted by the tribunal to serve out his sentence in Italy.


Stacy Sullivan is IWPR project manager in The Hague.


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