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Delic Under House Arrest After Violating Tribunal Rules

Bosnian general’s provisional release almost ended due to disregard for tribunal conditions.
Bosniak war crimes suspect Rasim Delic has been placed under house arrest after he broke the terms of his release by discussing his case with a senior Bosnian politician.

Judge Wolfgang Schomburg made the order at the prosecution’s request after Delic broke conditions set out by the court that he was not at liberty to “discuss his case with anyone… other than with his counsel”.

Delic was granted provisional release by the tribunal in November. The accused was permitted to return to Bosnia for a month from December 11. A number of other suspects were also granted temporary release – which Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte recently criticised as “Christmas presents”.

On December 13, Delic met Haris Silajdzic, the Bosniak member of the Bosnian presidency, which also includes a Croat and a Serb.

According to a statement from Silajdzic’s office, the politician “enquired into the proceedings against General Rasim Delic”.

“Silajdzic expressed his hope that the tribunal will complete the proceedings in the case based on presented evidence and facts, without any political influence,” said the statement.

Delic headed the Bosnian army’s staff during the 1992-95 war in his homeland. He is charged with failing to prevent atrocities committed by foreign Muslim volunteers who came to fight on behalf of Bosnian forces as autonomous military units.

The atrocities included the capturing, beating and execution of Serb soldiers at the Kamenica camp near the Bosnian town of Zavidovici.

The prosecution contends that Delic has been particularly imprudent in meeting Silajdzic since the latter was foreign minister of Bosnia in the period during which the crimes were committed.

Political analysts, meanwhile, said the meeting was a stunt to gain Silajdzic support from Bosniak voters and also to rile Serbia.

“The war here is not over yet, it is just being fought with other means,” said analyst Slavo Kukic, echoing criticism from Bosnian Serb politicians.

Rajko Vasic, a Bosnian Serb politician and executive secretary of the Association of Independent Social Democrats, said Silajdzic was trying to present a distorted version of the past.

“These are efforts to artificially convince people that Bosniaks were innocent in the civil war and that the guilt falls on the Serb side only,” he said.

Other Serbs also felt the meeting was a severe insult to those who were abused and killed by troops under Delic’s command.

“This sends to the world an ugly image of Bosnia at the very moment when the tensions caused by the political crisis have been subdued. It feels as if the aim of this totally unacceptable meeting is to raise tensions again,” said Branislav Dukic, head of the Bosnian Serb Union of Former Camp Detainees.

Despite these reactions, Delic’s defence team contended that the terms of his provisional release had not been breached. It argued that Delic did not reveal any information about the case, and the mere fact of Silajdzic having asked a question “should not be sufficient to result in a finding that a discussion has occurred”.

Delic’s lawyers said their client had not been informed that a statement would be released. They also emphasised his history of cooperating with the tribunal since he voluntarily surrendered to as soon as he knew of the indictment against him.

The judge confirmed that any further breach of the terms of his provisional release would lead the court to reconsider Delic’s leave from The Hague.

Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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