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Todorovic Case: Too Sick to Enter a Plea

Tribunal Update 95: Last Week in The Hague (28 September - 4 October, 1998)

Todorovic's health problems (headaches, dizziness and nausea), he told the court, were a result of a fierce blow to his head with a baseball bat which he suffered when boarding the boat that took him from Serbia to Bosnia. He and his defence counsel maintain that his arrest did not take place in Bosnia, but in Serbia, in FRY, where Todorovic hid for two years. According to the defence, Todorovic was not arrested but "illegally kidnapped" by four armed civilians who stormed the house in which he was hiding just after midnight. They blindfolded him and took him to the river and then sailed to the other bank into Bosnia. The attackers spoke Serbian and they allegedly told Todorovic, "Nothing personal. We are just doing this for the money!" On the other side of the river Drina, the kidnappers and their catch were met by SFOR soldiers who escorted Todorovic to the city of Tuzla by car and helicopter. In Tuzla Todorovic was officially told that he was arrested on the basis of a Tribunal arrest warrant and that he would be transported to the Hague.

The judges did not comment on Todorovic's description of the circumstances surrounding his arrest and NATO has not issued another statement (it announced simply on the morning of 27 September that Todorovic had been arrested "without incident" in northern Bosnia). If Todorovic is telling the truth, it will mean that SFOR no longer hesitates to use some of the classic methods employed by bounty hunters in the hunt for fugitives. This sends an unambiguous message to all those outside Bosnia: they can run but they cannot hide.

After the murder of Slobodan Miljkovic "Lugar" and the arrest of Todorovic, not even FRY looks like a safe haven for war crimes suspects. Judging by Todorovic's statement, he was caught by FRY citizens, and the accusations of "violation of the territorial integrity" are therefore invalid. Todorovic was formally arrested only when he entered Bosnian territory, when he came across SFOR soldiers who, fulfilling their regular mandate, just happened to be patrolling that part of the Bosnian frontier.

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