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More EU and NATO Raids in Bosnia

(TU No 465, 26-Aug-06)
The raids took part in the small Bosnian town of Pale, a wartime headquarters of former Bosnian Serb president and top war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. In one operation, NATO troops are reported to have searched the home of former police commander Jovan Skobo.

"Mr Skobo is believed to be linked to the support network of Radovan Karadzic that allows him to remain at large," said Derek Chappel, a NATO spokesman in Sarajevo.

In another operation, the State Investigation and Protection Agency, SIPA, also searched the homes of former wartime commander Radomir Kojic, his brother-in-law Radoslav Ilic, as well as that of Vlatko Macar, Skobo’s next-door neighbour, reported SRNA, the Republika Srpska news agency.

SIPA, which is the first statewide police agency in Bosnia and Hercegovina, conducted this operation with the assistance of the EU force in Bosnia, EUFOR, and Italian Carabinieri officers.

According to local media reports, SIPA also detained Skobo after the NATO troops had left.

The reports quoted a EUFOR spokesperson as saying that SIPA is leading the operation in Pale and that the EU forces “are supporting local authorities”.

These raids follow a similar operation last week by EUFOR, in the Bosnian town of Banja Luka, when four homes are reported to have been searched, including that of a former Bosnian Serb soldier suspected of sheltering Bosnian Serb wartime military commander and war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic.

This signaled the launch of a new EU and NATO campaign to remove support for war crimes suspects.

EUFOR and NATO both support the work of the Hague tribunal by conducting operations aimed at capturing war crimes suspects, as well as targeting those who support them.

But such a high concentration of raids in the last two weeks - after a rather long period of inactivity for the EUFOR and NATO troops in this regard - suggests they may be acting on new information, or have adopted a new, more aggressive strategy in order to help bring top war crimes fugitives to justice.

When asked about any tribunal involvement in the operation, spokesman for the prosecutor at the Hague court, Anton Nikiforov said he was not allowed to comment.

Mladic and Karadzic have remained at large since they were indicted for genocide in 1995 for the siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica.

The failure to hand over these war crimes suspects is the biggest obstacle to Bosnia joining the EU.

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