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11 Mar, 2010 12:11

War crimes-accused Bosnian leader released on bail

A UK court has released former Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic on a bail of 300,000 euros. Charged with war crimes, his extradition was formally requested by Serbia's Justice Ministry.

The Court is yet to decide on whether or not to extradite him to Serbia, which had originally issued the warrant for his arrest.

Ejup Ganic was arrested on the 1st of March at Heathrow airport in connection with an attack on a retreating Yugoslav army convoy in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in 1992.

Deputy Serbian war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric said on Wednesday, March 10, that the collected evidence is very strong and the Serbian Prosecutor’s office has solid arguments against Ganic, who allegedly ordered an attack on retreating Yugoslav soldiers.

Bosnia’s President Haris Silajdzic attended the bail hearing on Thursday in support of Ganic.

Belgrade accuses Ejup Ganic, and 18 other persons involved, of plotting and carrying out armed raids on troops and defense facilities of the Yugoslav army. All the assaults were done in spring 1992, after the arrangements fot the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from Bosnia and Herzegovina had been reached. Back then, armed Bosnian supporters attacked a military hospital, a house of the Yugoslav People’s Army in Sarajevo, a convoy of field ambulances and a convoy of troops leaving Sarajevo on a co-ordinated route.

The latter tactical event was the most tragic. The Bosnian combatants killed 42 soldiers, left 72 wounded and took 215 soldiers and officers captive, who were later kept prisoners in violation of the international convention on POWs.

The Serbian prosecutor’s office has long wanted to indict Ejup Ganic with war crimes against wounded Yugoslav soldiers and prisoners of war, and also with illicit methods of conducting war.

If extradited to Serbia, Ejup Ganic would be the first high-ranking Bosnian Muslim official tried for war crimes. Therefore the case is already being dubbed as politically motivated.

Marko Gasic from the British-Serbian Alliance for Peace joined RT in London doubts that Ejup Ganic would be able to avoid the further investigation because the materials submitted by the Serb officials are sufficient to extradite him to Serbia. The final decision on Ganic’s extradition will be taken on March 29.

“The decision to arrest Ganic at Heathrow airport was a legal and a police one. The decision to keep him in jail for this period was a judicial one, but the decision to release him and not extradite him to face justice and a fair trial would in fact be a political one,” Marko Gasic estimated.

“That would really be a bit of a compromise between Britain’s proud tradition of independent judiciary and the real political pressures and informal settings being brought to bear,” he said.

Ejup Ganic’s supporters have already labeled his possible extradition a “political move against Bosnian sovereignty.”

“There has never been a cheaper complaint from the Bosnian Muslim leadership about numerous Bosnian citizens arrested previously. It seems they only want to protect their fellow leaders from the charges of war crimes,”
revealed the disposition Marko Gasic.

“They want to jealously guard the ‘victim’ stature they managed to impose on the world through a very successful propaganda over a period of years,” he added.

Marko Gasic also pointed out that “in the modern day international law there is no hiding of war crimes behind the doctrine of state sovereignty. You cannot let him [Ejup Ganic] go because he is a Bosnian citizen.”

“The awful, heinous massacre Ejup Ganic is being accused of a great deal accelerated the arrival of a full-scale war to Bosnia and Herzegovina and he must be given a fair trial and properly answer questions, something he [has] never done so far,” concluded Gasic.

The Hague Tribunal never investigated the Ejup Ganic because it lacked the recourses to do so, and therefore passed the decision to the national court. The Sarajevo court has been sitting on Ganic’s case for seven years already, without having taken any action to investigate the case whatsoever.

“There is no prospect in Sarajevo of him being tried at all,” Gasic said, because naturally “they have no desire to investigate their own war crimes.”