Monday, February 4, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 4,2008) - The Bosnian President Željko Komšić met with Büllent Tulun, the Ambassador Turkey to Bosnia. During the meeting, they talked inter alia about the construction of a new Turkish Embassy building in Vilsonovo šetalište (Vilson’s promenade). Marin Ivanišević, the Chairman of the Sarajevo City Council also attended the meeting.

The Turkish Ambassador to Bosnia hopes that works concerning the construction of the Republic of Turkey Embassy would be completed as soon as possible trough the correction procedure of the valid regulatory plan.

According to him, Turkey considers the construction of that facility not only as one project in the series of projects in Bosnia, but as a special expression of their friendly stance towards Bosnia and its citizens.

Ambassador Tulun emphasized his conviction that besides the certain unclearness at the local level, it would all be completed trough the process of presenting the necessary documentation according to regulations in regard to the final completion of the Embassy building.

He mentioned that all work in relation to the lot that was placed at Bosnia’s disposal regarding the Bosnian Embassy building construction in Ankara was completed. He thanked for Sarajevo City Council Chairman Marin Ivanišević’s activities, who supported the prompt realization of all work in relation to the decision of the Sarajevo City Assembly‘s Collegium.

President Komšić reiterated that Bosnia and Turkey are very close and friendly countries; that many ties bind our peoples and said he would be personally engaged in making our two countries’ relations exemplary. He sent cordial greetings to the Turkish President Abdulah Güll and emphasized the need to intensify the contacts between the two countries.


NEW YORK, United States (February 4,2008) - In the World Report on the State of Human Rights in 2008, published annually by Human Rights Watch (HRW), special attention has once again been paid to Bosnia.This time, Human Rights Watch assessed that the war crime processing before the Bosnian courts was positive, noticing significant progress in comparison to the previous years.

In this report, Human Rights Watch experts concluded that processing of war crime indictees and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has progressed to a significant extent. However, the organisation express concerns in relation to "way too many closed hearings and inadequate openness towards the public".

The report also presents concerns over determining priorities when it comes to processing of persons responsible for war crimes in Bosnia, as well as "poor protection of witnesses, lack of financial resources and limited political support" at lower courts in Bosnia.

Human Rights Watch noticed that the "lack of will" of the Regional Court in Banja Luka to treat sexual crimes as war crimes has caused "criticism within the country".

The report further alleges that 36 cases, treating persons responsible for having participated in war crimes, were recorded before lower courts in Bosnia in the course of 2007.

The report gave positive comments concerning the cooperation between the regional authorities, as well as the international forces, as it resulted in the arrest of Serbian war criminal Zdravko Tolimir, former member of the genocidal paramilitary formations of the Serbians living in Bosnia (VRS). After the arrest, Serbian war criminal Zdravko Tolimir was transferred to the ICTY.

According to Human Rights Watch, the extradition of Serbian war criminal Gojko Klickovic, who was indicted by the Bosnian State Prosecutor for war crimes was assessed as a step forward in regional cooperation.

In the course of 2007 the ICTY referred the case of Serbian war criminal Milorad Trbic, charged with genocide, to the Bosnian authorities for further processing. The process against him has already commenced in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

In parallel, the ICTY Appeals Chamber rendered a decision to process Serbian war criminals Milan and Sredoje Lukic, charged with crimes committed in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad, before the ICTY due to "the scope of the crime and possible mental suffering of the victims", although the Prosecution filed a motion for their referral to Bosnia.

Human Rights Watch also noticed that an entity-level problem concerning the non-existence of a strategy for systematic dealing with suits requesting compensation for death and injuries made during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, "which leads to a further increase in the number of suits".

The report also indicates that, in February 2007, the International Court of Justice rendered a decision pronouncing Serbia not directly responsible for the genocide in Bosnia, which made the associations of genocide victims in Bosnia organise peaceful protests, as the decision made them feel desperate.

The Human Rights Watch Report also noticed that a number of missing persons have still not been found even though more than 15 years have passed since the end of the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

Human Rights Watch also pointed out that, in June 2007 the High Representative dismissed Dragomir Andan, a representative of the Serbians living in Bosnia, for protecting Serbian war criminals.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 4,2008) - The Bosnian State Prosecutor's request for a one-month custody order for Croatian war criminal Anto Kovac has been approved by the Bosnian State Court.

Kovac, a former member of the fascist paramilitary formations of the Croatians living in Bosnia (HVO) is suspected of committing crimes in the central Bosnian town of Vitez in 1993,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia.

The Bosnian State prosecutor considers that Croatian war criminal Anto Kovac should be held in custody on the grounds that the suspect might attempt to escape and interfere with the criminal proceedings by influencing potential witnesses.

The Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) arrested Croatian war criminal Kovac on January 30, 2008, on the suspicion that he committed war crime against Bosnian civilians in Vitez area,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia.

"Only after the arrest has the suspect become aware of the severity of the crimes charged upon him and the potential punishment. As a consequence, he will now surely be motivated to escape or hide, which he can easily do as he possesses Croatian citizenship," said the Bosnian State Prosecutor Mirko Lecic, adding that Croatian war criminal has a Croatian passport.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor also stressed that the grounded suspicion that Kovac committed the war crime was based on statements given by witnesses and material evidence gathered by the Prosecution during the investigation.

"The witnesses live in Vitez and its surroundings, just like the suspect. There exists a possibility that he will try to put pressure on these witnesses and generate fear," Lecic said, adding that the Prosecution intended to examine "a maximum" of eight new witnesses.

The Croatian war criminal's attorney Nikica Grzic objected to the custody order request, claiming that the reasons cited by the Bosnian State Prosecutor "did not exist" and imposing less severe measures, instead of custody, would bring the same results.

"Fifteen years have passed since the alleged commitment of the criminal offence. He has had plenty of time to put pressure on the witnesses. It is true that he has Croatian citizenship, but it should not be a discriminating fact for him. He cannot evade the criminal processing by escaping. Croatia may not extradite its citizens, but it does process them," Grzic said.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 4,2008) - The Bosnian State Court has decided that Croatian war criminal Pasko Ljubicic should remain in custody.Croatian war criminal Pasko Ljubicic is charged with having committed war crimes in the central Bosnia area in 1993,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia. The decision was made after the Prosecution and Defence presented their reasons for a custody extension or termination.

Trial Chamber chairman Judge Saban Maksumic said that "the circumstances which governed the custody order have not been changed in the meantime" and that no other measures "could ensure that he would appear in the courtroom".

The Bosnian State Prosecutor charges Croatian war criminal Pasko Ljubicic, as member of the fascist paramilitary formations of the croatians living in Bosnia (HVO), with having ordered and participated in the attacks on the villages and towns in the central Bosnia area, including Ahmici, Vitez and Busovaca.

The indictment alleges that Bosnian civilians of these villages and towns were arrested, tortured, maltreated and murdered by the fascist Croatian aggressor,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia in the early 1990's, while their property was pillaged and demolished.

Citing its reasons for the custody extension, the Bosnian State Prosecutor said that "the circumstances related to this case have not changed" and therefore requested "the extension of custody for the indictee".

The Defence said that Ljubicic has been in custody for seven years and that "the same results could have been achieved by imposing prohibitive measures against him". The indictee said that the Bosnian State Prosecutor examined 28 witnesses and that none of them reported receiving any kind of threats.

On July 5, 2006. the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) referred the Ljubicic case to the Bosnian State Court for further processing.

Prior to coming to the detention unit of the Bosnian State Court,Croatian war criminal Pasko Ljubicic has been held in the tribunal's Scheveningen unit since November 21, 2001.

After the Bosnian State Court ordered a custody extension, the indictee asked to be allowed to visit, under police escort, his wife and daughter. Maksumic told him to submit a written request and the Court shall then render its decision.

At the hearing, the Bosnian State Prosecutor also presented material evidence, including, among others, the list of murdered Bosnian civilians in Ahmici village near Vitez, whose names were mentioned by witnesses, and a few photographs of victims who were identified by witnesses.

The trial of Croatian war criminal Pasko Ljubicic is due to continue before the Bosnian State Court on February 8.


BRCKO, Bosnia (February 4,2008) - The Brcko District Supervisor Raffi Gregorian congratulated the Brcko District Assembly on the adoption of the Code of Conduct for Councilors of the Assembly of the Brcko District. This code draws upon codes of European parliaments, developed in a long democratic tradition.

With the adoption, the Assembly identifies itself with, and commits itself to, such standards.The code also introduces an internal disciplinary mechanism to sanction infractions and violations of the Code.

Article 25 of the Statute of the Brcko District requires that “Councilors must conduct their public life in an exemplary, appropriate and ethical manner, performing their duties in accordance with their conscience and for the exclusive welfare of the District and Bosnia.” The Code elaborates on this provision of the Statute, the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) said.

The Supervisor Gregorian stressed that the Brcko District residents are entitled to proper and lawful behavior of those they elect and whose salaries they pay for from their taxes. The newly adopted Code of Conduct empowers District residents to initiate a procedure against a councilor for violations of the Code.

Supervisor Gregorian commended the efforts of the Assembly’s Committee on the Code of Conduct. He hopes that it will contribute to ensuring the highest standards of service to District residents, and to maintaining public confidence in the District as a politically stable and economically attractive administrative unit in Bosnia.