News 20 Jun 14

Bosnia Probes Flag-Burning During World Cup

Prosecutors are investigating after Bosnian Croat football fans in the towns of Mostar and Capljina burned the Bosnian flag when the Croatian team won a World Cup match.

Denis Dzidic

Prosecution spokesperson Boris Grubesic said on Friday that an investigation had been launched because the burning of the Bosnia and Herzegovina state flag by the Croat fans “incites national hatred”.

The incidents happened in the early hours of Thursday morning as fans in Mostar and Capljina celebrated after the Croatian national team won its first victory at the World Cup in Brazil, beating Cameroon 4-0.

“Police institutions will be ordered to arrest the perpetrators, and after gathering all the information, we will decide how to move forward,” said Grubesic.

If convicted of spreading and inciting hatred, the perpetrators could face sentences ranging from three months to three years in jail.

Both Mostar and Capljina have significant numbers of Croat residents, who often support Croatian football team rather than that of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Meanwhile the prosecution said on Wednesday that it would also open an investigation into the increasing numbers of incidents of destruction of religious property.

During the course of this week, a Croat chapel in Gradisca near Zenica and the Hadzi-Ahmed Dukatar mosque in Livno were vandalised.

“The prosecutor in charge of the case will ask all police offices for a detailed report about the destruction of religious property and then conduct a thorough investigation,” said Grubesic.

The penalties for the offence range from six months to five years in prison.

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