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

International Justice/ICTY: Jun ‘08

Dutch media approach IWPR for analysis of Zupljanin arrest and Hague-based IWPR journalist pays reporting visit to Bosnia.
By Merdijana Sadović
IWPR coverage of the arrest of former Bosnian Serb security chief Stojan Zupljanin – one of the four remaining war crimes suspects from the Hague tribunal’s list – prompted enquiries from a number of local and international media.

Our reporter in Belgrade Aleksandar Roknic investigated the unusual circumstances surrounding Zupljanin’s arrest by Serbian police in the town of Pancevo near Belgrade. Zupljanin, who was on the run for almost eight years, tried to avoid being sent to The Hague by claiming the police had caught the wrong man.

Radio Netherlands, Dutch newspaper Volkstarnt, as well as and several media outlets in Bosnia, approached us to discuss Zupljanin’s capture, following our reports on the story.

As well as covering the arrest of the fourth remaining fugitive, we also produced several in-depth reports on various issues related to the Hague tribunal and international justice.

Topics ranged from a preliminary hearing in Croatia’s genocide lawsuit against Serbia, accusations that Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj could be using his political links to harass prosecution witnesses in his war crimes trial, to the real role foreign Muslim fighters, or mujahedin, had in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war.

Another highlight last month was our Hague-based reporter Simon Jennings’s visit to Bosnia, which resulted in a piece examining the ethnically divided town of Stolac.

“Talking with people first hand, who had been directly affected by the four-year siege of Sarajevo or had been victims of some of the conflict’s most horrific war crimes in places such as Foca or Stolac, not only gave me vital stories to tell but brought me much closer to events as a reporter,” said Jennings.

“My investigations in Stolac, Herzegovina, led me to write about a level of ethnic segregation which although I knew still existed 13 years after the war, I did not realise had such a profound affect on peoples’ everyday lives today.

“Just as reporting on the war crimes themselves and the related issues involved forms the basis of the project, seeing how the tribunal in The Hague and the Bosnian Court in Sarajevo is viewed in the region is also an important part of IWPR work.”

Another interesting article by Alexander Roknic looked at the Slovenian government’s war crimes indictment against a Serbian military officer in relation to the 10-day war following Slovenia’s proclamation of independence in June 1991.

As Roknic discovered while working on this report, not everyone in Slovenia believes the Yugoslav army really committed war crimes during the clashes with the Slovenian Territorial Defence, TO.

Some Slovenian NGOs claim it was JNA soldiers, rather than the Slovenian people, who were the victims of these crimes.

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