Thursday, November 1, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 1,2007) -
The FBIH Entity Parliament’s House of Representatives approved by majority of votes Declaration supporting the Bosnian Presidency acts which demand the highest executive authority of Croatia to halt the construction activities on the Peljesac bridge. As stated, the construction blocks Bosnia's access to the international waters.

The declaration asks the Bosnian Presidency to intensify activities together with the Bosnian Parliament in the function of the defence of Bosnia’s sovereignty and Bosnia's access to the international waters of the Adriatic Sea, in accordance with the International Law.

If the Croatian authorities do not react to the just and legally well-based warnings that the construction activities are halted, that is if the legal disagreement is not solved diplomatically or in accordance with the international law, Bosnia is to sue Croatia at the International Court for the Sea Right, situated in Hamberg, the declaration reads.

The Bosnian Presidency is also recommended as well as the Bosnian Parliament’s House of Representatives to inform the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) on the construction activities, as well as all other department institutions of the European Union.

Passing of the declaration at the FBIH Entity Parliament was initiated by the SDA party delegate Irfan Ajanovic. He proposed it under the title “Resolution” and was later changed to the “Declaration” in the course of the session.

The declaration was adopted with 61 votes over 1 delegate who opposed. 8 delegate votes were in abstention.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 1,2007) – Political Directors of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board met in Sarajevo on 30 and 31 October 2007.Leaders of Bosnia's governing coalition were present during parts of the meeting.

"In line with the decision taken at its June meeting, the PIC Steering Board reviewed the political situation in Bosnia. Since then, the situation in Bosnia has deteriorated further.Responsibility lies with political leaders from both entities who have blocked progress and undermined the political situation with their aggressive rhetoric. The situation is now of the utmost concern to the international community. The PIC Steering Board underscores that it is time for Bosnia's politicians to end the practice of questioning the fundamental structure of the state or its component parts," the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) stated.

"Bosnia urgently needs reform to build the kind of modern, efficient state that can take its place in Euro-Atlantic institutions and fulfil the promise of the Dayton Peace Agreement. This can only be achieved through compromise.

However, since June, Bosnia has moved no closer to initialling a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union. Some political leaders have not honoured their previous commitments to meet EU requirements. These requirements must be fulfilled if the country is to conclude an SAA. Bosnia's leaders should adopt a positive approach, based on full respect for the Dayton Peace Agreement and dialogue. The Mostar Declaration of 28 October can serve as the starting point for a positive reengagement of the government coalition parties. Concrete steps are now needed to demonstrate that this is a serious effort. If they follow-up, Bosnia would be able to progress towards conclusion of the SAA," the OHR said.

Given the lack of progress on key reforms, a focus on completing implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, including efforts to tackle the evident dysfunctionality of state institutions, is necessary. The PIC Steering Board fully supported this approach.

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council also supported the High Representative’s decisions and proposed actions, which are fully in line with his mandate and the Bosnian Constitution.

"The only objective of these measures is to streamline the decision-making process in the Bosnian Council of Ministers and the Bosnian Parliament, and they are necessary for speeding up the reform process. Certain political leaders have overreacted to these measures in order to create a political crisis. They have also challenged the legitimacy and authority of the High Representative and Peace Implementation Council," the OHR said.

The PIC welcomed the High Representative’s initiative to provide a note explaining that the measures maintain the constitutional protection of constituent peoples and entities in Bosnia.

The PIC Steering Board reminded all signatories and parties of their obligation under Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement to cooperate fully with the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia and his staff. Decisions of the High Representative must be fully respected and promptly implemented.

The PIC Steering Board reiterated it will not remain passive in the face of provocative statements or acts. Any political leaders or institutions in Bosnia that challenge the High Representative and the PIC Steering Board will be subject to appropriate measures. The Steering Board underlined that the international community retains the necessary instruments to counter destructive tendencies and that it will not allow attempts to undermine the Dayton Peace Agreement, whether from inside or outside the country.

The Steering Board underlined that Bosnia is a recognised sovereign state whose territorial integrity is guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Agreement. The Steering Board recalled that the Bosnian Constitution recognises that Bosnia consists of two entities and that Bosniacs, Croats and Serbs are constituent peoples.

"The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council remains committed to the principles on which the General Framework Agreement for Peace is founded and notes that the High Representative’s measures in no way change these principles," the PIC Steering Board said.

The PIC Steering Board also re-emphasised its concern regarding suggestions that certain reforms could be reversed unilaterally by entity decisions retrieving competencies previously transferred to the state.

"An entity cannot withdraw unilaterally from a previously agreed reform. The consolidation of state-level institutions must continue," the PIC Steering Board anounced.

In this context, the Steering Board deplored the lack of progress regarding the transfer from the entities to the state of all property needed for defence purposes as required by the Bosnian Defence Law. The Steering Board stressed the urgent need to resolve this issue and requested the High Representative to engage with the parties and take appropriate measures to bring this issue to a conclusion by the end of the year.

The Steering Board also deplored the fact that state and entity authorities have failed to reach an agreement apportioning the ownership and use of state property, despite the strong appeal that they do so issued by Political Directors in June of this year. It reminded Bosnia's politicians of the urgent need to reach an agreement on this question and requests the High Representative to undertake all appropriate measures to bring this issue to a conclusion.

The Steering Board called upon Serbia, a Dayton signatory, as well as Bosnia to abide by their obligations under international law to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), playing a proactive role in apprehending all remaining indictees, including Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, without further delay, dismantling the networks offering support to such war crimes fugitives, and ensuring they are transferred to the ICTY.

Also in that regard, the Steering Board welcomed the steps taken by the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia to augment the capacity of the Bosnian authorities to investigate and prosecute war crimes suspects.

The PIC Steering Board will review the political situation in Bosnia at its next meeting in February 2008, which will take place in Brussels on 26 and 27 February 2008.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 1,2007) – Testifying about the nine months he spent in three different concentration camps run by the Croatian aggressor near the southern Bosnian city of Mostar.

The witness told the Bosnian State Court that the concentration camp in Vojno village was the worst of them. He claims to have been beaten by Croatian war criminal Dragan Sunjic in that concentration camp.

Croatian war criminals Dragan Sunjic, Marko Radic, Damir Brekalo and Mirko Vracevic are charged with having committed numerous crimes against the Bosnian civilians detained in Vojno concentration camp near the southern Bosnian city of Mostar in the course of 1993 and 1994,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia.

The indictment alleges that Croatian war criminal Dragan Sunjic was deputy concentration camp commander.

The witness said that the Croatian aggressor arrested him on June 30, 1993. He was first taken to Dretelj concentration camp near the southern Bosnian town of Capljina and then to Heliodrom near Mostar, in which thousands of Bosnian civilians had already been detained by the Croatian aggressor. On November 17, he was transferred to the Vojno concentration camp,

"We were met by Mario Mihalj and Dragan Sunjic. We were detained in a boiler house, in which a young man, aged 15 or 16, had already been detained for a long time. He looked terrible. He had scars caused by extinguishing of cigarettes all over his body," the witness recalled.

The indictment, filed by the Bosnian State Prosecutor, alleges that Croatian war criminal Mario Mihalj was an accessory in certain crimes committed in the Vojno concentration camp.

The witnesses claim that, the first day after their arrival, Mihalj told them that he was the detention camp commander and that Sunjic was his deputy.

The witness said that the two Croatian war criminals,Mihalj and Sunjic, maltreated all Bosnian civilians detained in the Vojno concentration camp and that he, personally, was also tortured.

"On one occasion they put a plastic canister on my head and then they started shooting at it. After that, they hit me with rifle butts and kicked me, and then the shooting continued. The torture lasted for more than half an hour," the witness said adding that, despite his injuries, he had to perform forced labour on a daily basis.

"The Vojno concentration camp was the worst of the three concentration camps in which I was held. There was no place where we could wash ourselves or do our needs. There was just work and beating every day," said the witness, who was transferred by the Croatian aggressor back from the Vojno concentration camp to the Heliodrom concentration camp on January 28, 1994 and released in March the same year.

The witness also said that, when he was going out of the camp to perform forced labour, he noticed that many Bosnian women and children were being held captive by the Croatian aggressor in surrounding buildings. He could hear the children crying. He also claims to have been told by others that Croatian war criminal Marko Radic was the commander of the concentration camp.

The indictment, which charges Croatian war criminal Marko Radic on the basis of individual and command responsibility, alleges that he was the commander of the Croatian aggressor's "Ivan Stanic-Cico" commandos squad during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia in the early 1990's and that he was "responsible" for the Bijelo Polje area, including the Bosnian village of Vojno in which a concentration camp was established.

The trial before the bosnian state Court of Croatian war criminals Dragan Sunjic, Marko Radic, Damir Brekalo and Mirko Vracevic is due to continue on November 7, 2007.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 1,2007) - Due to an alleged lack of cooperation between the investigative authorities in Bosnia and Serbia, there is still no information about the runaway Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic convicted by the Bosnian State Court.

Although Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic escaped from prison in Foca at the end of May this year, there is still no information concerning his whereabouts. The Bosnian authorities, who believe that he is in Serbia, have accused the Serbian authorities of being uncooperative.

On May 25, 2007 Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic escaped from the Correctional Facility in Foca, where he was serving the 20-year prison sentence handed down by the Bosnian State Court for war crimes. From the very moment of his escape, the Bosnian authorities considered that he ran away either to the neighbouring Montenegro or Serbia, whose citizenship he possesses.

But,by Serbia's constitution, the country cannot extradite its citizens to other countries, no matter what charges they face.

Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic was originally indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for crimes committed in the eastern Bosnian town of Foca during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia, and in 2005 the tribunal decided to refer his case to the Bosnian State Court for further processing.

The indictment, filed in The Hague and admitted in Sarajevo, charged
Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic with having committed severe war crimes during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia, including the mass rape of Bosnian girls and women.

In the course of the proceedings, it was proven that Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic personally raped three Bosnian women.

The Bosnian authorities claim that "there is almost no cooperation with Serbia concerning the search for Stankovic".

"The entire 'Stankovic case' has hardly received any attention in Serbia. Therefore, it is possible that he currently resides on the territory of this country," said Dejan Anastasijevic, a journalist with the "Vreme" magazine from Belgrade.

"The Stankovic case" and his escape are not of interest to the Serbian media, which, according to Anastasijevic, "provided very few pieces of information when he escaped" and then "forgot" about it.

The Bosnian State Prosecution is still conducting investigations against six Serbians living in Bosnia considered to have helped Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic escape. However, no indictments have been filed so far.

According to the available data, Stankovic obtained medical documentation in order to be able to leave the prison. On his way to the hospital, he managed to run away from the guards and enter a car, which was waiting for him at the parking lot in front of the hospital.

The car allegedly used for the escape was discovered near the border between Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro borderline a few days after the escape. These are the only details available to the public at present.

On several occasions, the ICTY has expressed concern over the fact that Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic has still not been arrested. In summer this year, expressing its dissatisfaction, the tribunal said that this situation "has undermined the reputation of the judicial and other institutions in Bosnia".

In July this year, the ICTY asked Bosnia to submit a special report on all its activities concerning Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic's arrest.

The Bosnian Ministry of Justice of Bosnia prepared the report and submitted it, as a "strictly confidential" file, to The Hague. The comments on the report have not been made available to the public.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 1,2007) – By the end of the year,the Bosnian courts will have to handle 20.000 war crimes proceedings requests made by the Bosnian Association of Concentration Camps Survivors, Murat Tahirovic, the Association President announced.

For the time being, team of lawyers has submitted over 8.2000 proceeding demands to the Bosnian courts.

Tahirovic said that 3.000 proceeding demands are in preparation and other 9.000 will be submitted to the courts in the following two months.

The concentration camps survivors ask 300 euros each for every day spent at the concentration camps. There have been also some demands submitted by families of killed and missing concentration camp prisoners.

The Bosnian Association of Concentration Camp Survivors has about 56.000 members.

“We expect about 80 per cent of them to file complaints. That is over 40.000 people. If we take into consideration that most of the families of killed and missing concentration camps’ prisoners will do the same, than the number of demands will rise to about 60.000”, Tahirovic said.


MOSTAR, Bosnia (November 1,2007) - Agreement on joint financing of reconstruction of destroyed and devastated housing structures in Mostar region in the amount of 12 million Bosnian Marks has been signed yesterday by representatives of all levels of the Bosnian government.

The Bosnian Human Rights and Refugees Minister Safet Halilovic , pointed out that Agreement will be subsequently signed by the Bosnian Council of Ministers after the project has been found on the agenda of their session.

According to the Mayor of Mostar Ljubo Bešlić, it is expected that 12 million Bosian Marks, with support of the European Commission and UNDP, will be sufficient for reconstruction of 90 % of the destroyed houses in the Mostar City, while according to some estimations about 4,500 people should return to their homes.

Signatories of the Agreement will pay financial funds into a special account of Mostar City by December 31 this year at the latest for 2007, and for 2008 and 2009 by April 30, 2008 and 2009.

Project documentation and adequate construction permits will be provided by the Mostar City, while selection of buildings for reconstruction will be made by a team composed by representatives appointed by each of signatories of the Agreement.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 1,2007) – The 11th International Sarajevo Jazz Festival opened yesterday. Thirteen concerts will be held between October 31 and November 4 as part of this festival.

Tickets for all concerts can be bought at the Festival’s box office in the Bosnian Cultural Centre between 12 and 21 hrs every day. During the Festival, the box office will be open until 23hrs, the Jazz Festival’s press service announced.