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The Skopljak Case

Croatia arrests Bosnian Croat, and initiates procedures to transfer him to The Hague.

It was announced last week that the Republic of Croatia has arrested Pero Skopljak and begun the procedure for his transfer to The Hague. Skopljak is one of six political and military leaders of Bosnian Croats from the first or "original" indictment for crimes in the Lasva Valley. In the time period of the indictment, Skopljak, a graduate theologian and former Roman Catholic priest, was chief of police and the President of the Executive Council of HVO in Konjic. The prosecution has charged him with unlawful confinement and inhuman treatment of Bosnian Muslim detainees in the Lasva Valley area. Some of the witnesses in the trial of General Blaskic have also spoken about his role in Vitez.

As the Aleksovski case demonstrates, the procedure for transfer could last for several months. But Skopljak just last week demanded that the Croatian Government inform the Tribunal that he was "ready, on his own free will and immediately, to be turned over to the International Criminal Tribunal." However, Skopljak wants "a written guarantee to the effect that the trial against him should start within three months, and be carried out promptly and efficiently. Croatia officially handed over his request to the Tribunal last week. The Prosecutor's Office issued a statement in response saying that "the accused is in no position to make any conditions or to negotiate with the Prosecutor. He is free to make all kind of application to the Court, but only after his initial appearance before a Trial Chamber once in the UN Detention Unit."

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