News 04 Jun 13

Bosnia and Croatia Sign War Crimes Agreement

The chief prosecutors of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia signed a protocol to work together to prosecute war crime cases and stop suspects outside their borders evading justice.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo

The protocol signed on Monday will enable more efficient processing of war crimes perpetrators who are living in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Croatia and are using dual citizenships to evade being prosecuted, since both countries do not extradite their citizens.

“We want regional cooperation and this will show that war criminals have nowhere to run and evade justice,” said Bosnia’s chief prosecutor, Goran Salihovic, who signed the document with the chief state prosecutor of Croatia, Mladen Bajic, at the EU delegation’s office in Sarajevo on Monday.

Salihovic said that more than 50 cases could be solved using the newly-agreed protocol.

The Bosnian prosecution had previously complained that it was working on a number of cases which cannot be processed at present because the suspects are in Croatia and have Croatian citizenship.

Salihovic called on Bosnian citizens to show patience to the Bosnian judiciary as it tries to tackle the backlog of war crimes cases.

“The Hague court has solved 63 cases in 20 years and in the past ten days we have received 40 cases from the Hague Tribunal [to be processed in Bosnia]. This is why we are asking for understanding, since no one should manipulate the victims,” he said.

Bajic said that the protocol demonstrated the unwavering will of both countries to deliver justice and make public information about crimes and perpetrators in both Croatia and Bosnia.

Peter Sorensen, the EU’s special representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, who attended the signing ceremony, said that he hoped that the protocol would help to speed up prosecutions.

“I have the strong belief that the implementation of this protocol with the help of the EU will help the rebuilding of the rule of law and the reconciliation process in the region,” said Sorensen.

A similar protocol was signed with Serbia in January, and has already resulted in prosecutions, including a case against a Bosnian Serb soldier accused of killing 18 civilians in Bihac in north-west Bosnia in 1993. The suspect had been living in the Serbian town of Novi Sad since the end of the conflict.

Another protocol will be signed with state prosecutors in Montenegro soon, the Bosnian prosecution has announced.

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