Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Zelenovic Transfer Hitch

Milosevic death prompted Moscow to postpone Zelenovic transfer to The Hague.
By Nerma Jelacic
The transfer of Hague indictee Dragan Zelenovic from detention in Russia to the tribunal has been delayed by the death of Slobodan Milosevic, BIRN's Justice Report has learned.



Ten years ago, the tribunal charged Zelenovic with multiple counts of crimes against humanity and violations of laws or customs of war committed in the town of Foca, southeastern Bosnia.



After nine years on the run, 45-year-old Zelenovic was detained by the authorities of the Russian Federation in western Siberia in August 2005.



He was arrested in the oil town of Khanty-Mansiisk in western Siberia after working as a construction worker under the assumed name of Petrovic for several years.



Following the arrest, the tribunal promptly sent a request to the Russian authorities requesting his “expeditious transfer” to The Hague.



A tribunal source has confirmed to Justice Report that Zelenovic was due to arrive from Russia on March 13. However, after the death of Milosevic, the Russian authorities decided to delay the transfer.



The Hague has not confirmed these claims. "The tribunal is continuing its communication with Russian authorities and we hope that the question of Dragan Zelenovic will be resolved soon," Matias Hellman, tribunal representative in Bosnia and Hercegovina, told Justice Report.



Zelenovic was a military police commander and a paramilitary leader in Foca, southeastern Bosnia. He is charged in connection with multiple cases of rape, as well as involvement in gang rape and the removal of women to locations to be sexually assaulted and tortured.



He was first indicted in June 1996 alongside other Foca accused, Gojko Jankovic, Radovan Stankovic, Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac, Zoran Vukovic, Dragan Gagovic and Janko Janjic.



In 2004, the tribunal prosecutor's office asked the referral bench to transfer the Zelenovic case to the War Crimes Chamber in Sarajevo, in compliance with the Hague court's completion strategy. Under the same strategy, Stankovic and Gojko Jankovic have already been transferred to Bosnia's chamber.



Any decision on the transferral of Zelenovic to the Bosnian court will not be made before the indictee is transferred to The Hague.



Zelenovic has been held in Russia for more than eight months now.



Of eight men from Foca indicted in 1996 by the Hague tribunal for crimes there during the 1992-95 conflict, he was the last to be caught. Three have been tried and convicted, two are awaiting trial, and two were killed while trying to avoid arrest.



Nerma Jelacic is director of BIRN Bosnia and Hercegovina.