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COURTSIDE: Warrants - New Test For Belgrade

Will Belgrade turn over two Bosnian Serb indictees sheltering in Yugoslavia?
By Mirko Klarin

A pledge by the new authorities in Belgrade to cooperate with The Hague war crimes tribunal was put to the test again last week. Tribunal Judge Patrick Robinson sent the Yugoslav authorities an order for the arrest of Radovan Stankovic and Dragan Zelenovic, accused of rape and other war crimes in Foca in 1992.


According to the tribunal prosecutor's office, both accused are now in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The authorities in Belgrade were ordered "to search for them, arrest them and surrender" the pair to The Hague.


Since both accused are citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they cannot shelter behind "constitutional obstructions" which Belgrade officials say bar the extradition of Yugoslav subjects. There has been no reaction from the Serbian authorities.


That means that their arrest and extradition does not - according to the Serbian authorities - need to wait for the adoption of a new law on cooperation between Yugoslavia and The Hague, now being discussed in Belgrade.


The indictment against Stankovic and Zelenovic was issued in June 1996 when arrest warrants were sent to the authorities in Bosnia and to the former Bosnian Serb administration in Pale. The same indictment for rape and sexual enslavement of Bosniak girls and women also named six other members of the Bosnian Serb security forces.


Two of the six - Dragan Gagovic and Janko Janjic - were killed resisting arrest. Three others, Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac, and Zoran Vukovic, received prison sentences of 28, 20 and 12 years respectively. Another man on the list, Gojko Jankovic, could not be found.


The 16 Foca victims have testified that soldiers hauled them out of detention and subjected them to sexual abuse including rape.


Mirko Klarin is IWPR's senior editor in The Hague.