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Tribunal Insists on S-For Cooperation in Todorovic Case

Tribunal judges have raised the stakes in a dispute with S-For over Stevan Todorovic's demand to be returned to a "country of refuge".
By IWPR

Todorovic, the former chief of police of Bosanski Samac, accused of the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Croats from that part of Bosnia, has maintained since his extradition by S-For to The Hague in September 1998 that he was kidnapped on Mount Zlatibor in Serbia, illegally transferred over the Drina River into Bosnia, and then "sold" for 50,000 German marks to members of the international forces.


The court last Friday granted the defence their request for all the S-For documentation on Todorovic's arrest, as well as the testimony of persons who took part in the operation, headed by the then commander of the international forces in Bosnia, US General Eric Shinseki.


S-For has so far refused to hand over the documents. It said "operational security" prevented it from doing so, but insisted that even if Todorovic's version of events was correct, he would not have the right to be returned to a "country of refuge" - namely Serbia.


The prosecution has argued that the tribunal's jurisdiction over the defendant cannot be


"vitiated...by any alleged illegality that may have occurred in the circumstances of the accused's arrest." (See Tribunal Update No. 188)


S-For's legal advisers informed the tribunal in writing on July 9 this year that it would not hand over the documents. They asked the judges not to make further requests and warned that Todorovic's possible release "would create circumstances in which there would be little point in apprehending additional indictees." (See Tribunal Update No. 184)


But tribunal judges stated that an obligation to cooperate with the tribunal - as stipulated in Article 29 of its statute - binds not only states, but also international organisations.


They also subpoenaed General Shinseki to appear before the court as an individual with "personal knowledge" of the events which led to Todorovic's arrest. According to Todorovic's testimony, the general "welcomed" him on his arrival at the S-For base in Tuzla and asked him whether he really believed that he could escape international justice.


The tribunal judges have said, however, that they would consider a request to set aside the court order for the Todorovic documentation "on the grounds that disclosure would prejudice national security interests."


But the judges refused to accept S-For's "blanket objection" to the disclosure of the documents on the grounds that they would jeopardise operational security. They said S-For should "make specific objections to the disclosure of particular documents or other material."


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