Bosnian Serb ministry lists Hague suspects

Banja Luka, Bosnia, Sep 5, 2000 -- (Reuters) The Defense Ministry of Bosnia's Serb Republic has compiled a list of Bosnians believed to have been indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal, a newspaper reported on Monday.

The Reporter independent weekly, based in the Bosnian Serb capital Banja Luka, published the ministry's list of the names of 74 war crimes suspects, seventy of them Bosnian Serbs, and also listed the towns where 64 were allegedly in hiding.

Nine of those named are already on the Hague's public list of indictees, but the rest were believed to be on lists which the tribunal keeps "sealed", or secret, to avoid alerting them to the threat of arrest.

Bosnian Serb leaders have complained bitterly that the pursuit of alleged war criminals by the Hague-based tribunal is biased against Serbs. Bosnian Serb authorities have in the past refused to comply with tribunal orders to supply information on suspects or hand them over.

The newspaper report did not say why the ministry had drawn up the list or whether the Bosnian Serb authorities were planning to act on it.

It was not clear whether it had been deliberately leaked by the ministry to warn indictees of the danger of their arrest. Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

The weekly said the ministry obtained the information from Goran Neskovic, a lawyer to Momcilo Krajisnik who was detained in April by NATO troops near the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

Krajisnik, the right-hand man to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, is the most senior suspect yet delivered to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague.


His arrest caused outrage in the Serb Republic, which along with the Muslim-Croat Federation is one of the two highly autonomous halves of post-war Bosnia.

But a month later Western-backed Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik visited the tribunal, the first senior political leader from the Serb Republic to do so.

He discussed boosting cooperation and building trust between the tribunal and the republic and also said there was a widespread public perception in Serbia and in Bosnia's Serb Republic that the tribunal was collectively trying nations.

It needed to show it was not political biased, he said.

"We in the Serb Republic believe that the war in Bosnia Herzegovina was a civil war and that, within such a war, crimes were committed on all sides and by members of all nations and that therefore the prosecution of war criminals should not stay confined to only one period of time or one nation," he said.

A total of 41 people are currently held in the Hague, awaiting trial, on bail or being tried. But over two dozen more suspects are known to be living in Bosnia, which is patrolled by troops of the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR).

Fugitives include Radovan Karadzic and the former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, both twice indicted for war crimes by the tribunal.

The newspaper also said UN Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte was to visit Banja Luka on September 25 to press for the arrest of two senior Serb officials whose names were not revealed.

Del Ponte last month said she wanted international peacekeeping troops in the region to make more arrests of those sought by the UN court to answer for crimes committed during the Balkans conflicts in the 1990s.

She said she remained optimistic she would have one or two of the three top-echelon criminals in her detention cells in the Hague in the next 12 months.

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