Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
'Secret Hague Indictments' Exposed
For the second week running, the Banja Luka magazine Reporter has listed people allegedly named in sealed indictments at The Hague war crimes tribunal.
On September 11 Reporter named 35 Bosniaks, including the current President of the Bosnian-Herzegovina Federation, BiH, Ejup Ganic, and the former top commander of the BiH Army, Rasim Delic.
Reporter claimed The Hague Tribunal had been investigating "crimes committed against Serbs in camps Silos in Tarcin, Krupa, Igman and Hrasnica near Sarajevo." Quoting a "senior security official" the magazine said "the highest ranking Bosniak officials" had been the subject of the investigations. The report said President of the BiH tripartite presidency Alija Izetbegovic was included in the probe, but was unlikely to have been indicted.
Tribunal prosecutor's office spokesman Paul Risley confirmed there had been an investigation but dismissed the list of possible indictees as "sheer speculation".
The revelations followed the publication on September 4 of a RS Defence Ministry document, which listed 61 Bosnian Serbs allegedly named in sealed indictments at the Hague. The document was signed by Deputy Defence Minister Grujo Boric.
The RS Defence Ministry has since confirmed the document is genuine. In a statement, the ministry expressed surprise that Reporter had "acquired an official document illegally and published it without the government's approval." The ministry condemned Reporter's editors and said an investigation was underway to find the source of the leak.
An IWPR source in the defence ministry said the document was produced by RS military intelligence and that its publication has been interpreted as a deliberate attempt to discredit the service.
An officer in the RS army meanwhile provided another list compiled, he claimed, by the defence ministry containing a further 20 names of people believed to be on secret lists at the Hague.
"Besides this and the list published by Reporter, there are several more similar documents. They are compiled occasionally combining intelligence and analytical work. But there is no list given to us by the Hague," he said.
Risley said the lists published in Reporter have nothing to do with the tribunal. Only court's prosecutors and judges who signed the sealed indictments know the names of those included, he said.
Risley said the sealed indictments would only be passed to the police in RS when the tribunal is convinced the Banja Luka authorities will act on the information and arrest those identified."For the moment we do not have that level of co-operation," Risley added.
Recently dismissed RS prime minister Milorad Dodik and successive justice ministers Milan Trbojevic and Cedo Vrzina had been negotiating with the Hague and had prepared a draft law on co-operation with the tribunal. But Dodik's government had stopped short of taking responsibility for arresting suspects should the sealed indictments be made public.
The defence ministry list published by Reporter said the information had come from Goran Neskovic, defence lawyer at the Hague for former RS politician Momcilo Krajisnik.
Neskovic denies providing the information. Like Risley he said the list has nothing to do with him or the Hague. But the defence ministry source believes Neskovic did co-operate with RS military intelligence to compile the list following the arrest of Radoslav Brdjanin in Banja Luka on July 6 1999.
The source claims Brdjanin's arrest raised concerns within the RS defence ministry that several other Bosnian Serb officials with similar wartime roles to the arrested man could also be indicted.
"Probably these lists have upset many people without any reason. But it's certain that all those arrested up to now were warned before hand," the source said.
The defence ministry had warned former chief of the RS General Staff Momir Talic and wartime commander of the RS army's Sarajevo-Romanija Corps General Stanislav Galic, the source claimed.
Talic was arrested during a visit to Vienna in August 1999. According to the source, Talic had chosen to ignore the warning, trusting instead a written assurance from then Stabilisation Force commander US General Eric Sinseki that he was not included in the sealed indictments.
Galic, on the other hand, had immediately asked for a transfer to the Yugoslav Army, the source claimed, but was arrested in December 1999 before he could leave Banja Luka.
The former Commander of the Drina Corps, General Radislav Krstic, now on trial at the Hague for his alleged role in the Srebrenica massacres had also dismissed a tip-off from the RS defence ministry, the source claimed. Krstic, he said, believed the warning to be a ploy to get rid of him. Krstic was arrested on December 2 1998.
The tribunal has interpreted the list as deliberate disinformation designed to intimidate as many people as possible. But information from the defence ministry suggests the aim is rather to warn those mentioned that the Hague could be interested in them.
Zeljko Cvijanovic is a regular IWPR contributor
- Europe & Eurasia
- Latin America
- Middle East & North Africa
- Focus Pages
- Training & Resources
- Print Publications
- IWPR Spotlight