Former Bosnian leader arrested

March 2, 2010 12:00 am

, LONDON, Mar 2 – Former Bosnian president Ejup Ganic was arrested in London on an extradition warrant from Serbia for alleged war crimes during the 1990s Balkans conflict, police said.

Officers from Scotland Yard\’s Extradition Unit detained the 63-year-old at London\’s Heathrow airport over the killing of injured soldiers in 1992, said Scotland Yard.

Ganic "was arrested on behalf of the Serbian authorities under a provisional extradition warrant alleging \’conspiracy to murder with other named people and breach of the Geneva Convention, namely killing wounded soldiers…\’," it said.

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed Ganic\’s arrest following "a provisional extradition request from the Republic of Serbia in respect of conspiracy to murder and breach of the Geneva Convention," which deals with war crimes.

Ganic – a Muslim member of Bosnia\’s presidency during the 1992-95 war – appeared at the City of Westminster Magistrates Court after his arrest, the spokesman said.

"The Serbian authorities must now provide full papers to support their extradition request before a date can be fixed for an extradition hearing. A judge will then consider whether there are any bars to the extradition.

"As the case is now before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time," he added.

Belgrade wants to try Ganic and 18 other former Bosnian officials suspected of involvement in an attack on a Yugoslav army convoy in Sarajevo, as well as alleged incidents at a hospital and military barracks in the Bosnian capital.

At the time Ganic, the highest-ranking ex-Bosnian official named in the warrant, dismissed the allegations as "ridiculous."

Eighteen people were killed and many officers, soldiers and civilians wounded in the May 1992 convoy attack, at the start of Bosnia\’s three-and-a-half year war.

Bosnia\’s inter-ethnic war between its Croats, Muslims and Serbs claimed some 100,000 lives. It left the country split into two semi-autonomous halves – the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serbs\’ Republika Srpska.

Ganic\’s arrest came as Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic told his genocide trial that the conflict launched in Bosnia had been a "holy" cause against Muslim aggression.

Ending his boycott of the UN\’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Karadzic said he would use the trial "to defend the greatness" of his people who had endured centuries of persecution.

The 64-year-old, who is conducting his own defence, stands charged as the "supreme commander" of an ethnic cleansing campaign targeting Croats and Muslims in the war that displaced 2.2 million people.

"I will defend that nation of ours and their cause that is just and holy," said a confident Karadzic speaking from the defence lawyers\’ bench at the tribunal in The Hague.

In Belgrade, Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic told the capitalfmnew news agency that her ministry would send an extradition request for Ganic on Tuesday.

The Serbian interior ministry issued a warrant for Ganic and another 18 suspects in 2009 because of the "armed attack on a Yugoslav army convoy in Sarajevo in May 1992."

The convoy was withdrawing from central Sarajevo towards the military barracks in Lukavica suburb. Serbian sources said 41 Yugoslav army soldiers and officers were killed, 71 were wounded and 215 detained in the attack.

The head of an association of Bosnian Serb wartime detainees urged British authorities to extradite Ganic to Serbia.

"By arresting Ganic the international community has finally understood that the time has come that war crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs be processed also," said the Association of detainees of Republika Srpska.

"Those responsible should be brought before justice," Branislav Dukic told the Bosnian Serb SRNA news agency.


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