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Two Bosnian Serbs Surrender to ICTY

Tribunal Update 63: Last Week in The Hague (February 9-13, 1998)

The message appears to have been understood. On Valentines' Day, February 14, two indicted Bosnian Serbs surrendered themselves to the NATO forces and US diplomats in Bosanski Samac in north-eastern Republika Srpska.

Miroslav Tadic (60) and Milan Simic (40), together with four other persons, were indicted in July 1995 for their alleged role in the ethnic cleansing of Bosanski Samac. Prior to 1991, the town was home to 17,000 Croats and Muslims. According to the indictment, less than 300 now remain. More information will follow about the indictment and the charges against Tadic and Simic in the next Update, after their initial appearance before the Trial Chamber, which takes place next week.

In the most recent statements after the surrender of Tadic and Simic, the Prosecutor Arbour and Secretary General Solana reiterated their message once again, insisting that it was in the "best interests of all the accused still at large."

The combination of diplomatic efforts and military operations, said Arbour, "has sent a clear signal that accused will not be able to obstruct the course of justice by hiding behind an apparent unwillingness of their national authorities to comply with their international obligations." The first surrender of the accused from Republika Srpska, is, she said, also significant because it "further isolates the FRY in its failure to ensure that indicted persons are brought one way or another to justice."

During her visit to Belgrade last week, Arbour was again told that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia forbade the extradition of its citizens. It is unclear how long the international community will tolerate such pretexts of Belgrade, which have absolutely no basis in the international law. Belgrade's position is becoming increasingly isolated

and untenable especially since the new authorities of Republika Srpska have announced that they will encourage their citizens who were indicted to surrender to the Tribunal. The RS government has gone even further by insisting that it will improve its co-operation with The Hague. International political and economic pressure on Belgrade can therefore be expected in the near future, to ensure its international legal obligations toward the Tribunal.

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