Friday, March 14, 2008


DAKAR, Senegal (March 14,2008) – The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)summit has opened in Senegal's capital, Dakar. The heads of state are discussing solidarity with poorer Muslim nations, and helping Palestinians.

At the opening ceremony, Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade was officially given the chairmanship from Malaysia, which hosted the last OIC gathering in 2003.

President Wade said he was honored that Dakar was for a few days the capital of Islam.

He thanked all Muslims who had prayed for the conference, and assured them it would be a success.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday condemned Israel's attacks on Palestinian civilians.Addressing the summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Dakar, Senegal, Ban said Israel had employed "inappropriate and disproportionate use of force" in its renewed attacks on the Palestinian territories and called for an immediate ceasefire by both sides.

His comments came as Israeli planes launched fresh strikes in the northern Gaza Strip, ending a five day lull in violence.

New chairman of the OIC and Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade said he would make solving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis a priority for the organisation. "The just and legitimate cause of Palestine remains at the heart of our concerns," Wade told the summit.

He called Israel an occupying power and urged its government to "immediately stop its disproportionate use of force".

OIC's secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called for Israelis to be tried by an international war crimes court for "heinous" attacks against Palestinians.

The summit also aims to mount a campaign against increasing Islamophobia in the West. Reforms are also on the agenda, as is the desire to increase mutual solidarity among the participating countries and calling for dialogue and tolerance from the non-Muslim world.

In the crowded lobby of the conference center, delegation members in traditional dress from member countries such as Lebanon, Mali, Russia, and Pakistan drank tea and discussed the days' events.

One eager participant was Palestinian ambassador to Malaysia Abdelaziz Aboughosh, who has previously held a high position in the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

"In my experience as former assistant Secretary General of the OIC for Palestine and Jerusalem, I think the OIC is the Islamic global force supporting the important Islamic issues," said Aboughosh.

Aboughosh says he is pleased the situation in Palestinian territories is getting so much attention this year.

"It is one of the first issues that the summit tackles," he said. "The main issue is the support of the Muslim and OIC countries towards the peace initiative that Palestine is currently trying to achieve."

Missing from the proceedings were heads of state from the largest member countries, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who were among the largest donors for this summit.

The Bosnian President Dr Haris Silajdžić is leading the Bosnian state delegation participating in the 11th Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

During the Summit, President Silajdžić will have a series of bilateral meetings with numerous heads of states and governments of the Organization of the Islamic Conference members.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference brings together delegates from 57 member countries, and it represents more than 1.3 billion Muslims throughout the world.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (March 14,2008) – Bosnian Parliament's Commission for Defence and Security has rejected police reform bills.The Commission did not adopt a single amendment to the draft law on direction for coordination of police bodies and support agencies to police structure in Bosnia and draft law on independent and supervisory bodies of police structure in Bosnia.

Both these propositions had number of amendments proposed to them mostly by SDA delegates Bakir Izetbegovic and Hazim Rancic, SBiH Adem Huskic and Remzija Kadric , HDZ 1990 Vinko Zoric and SDP BiH Jozo Krizanovic.

Basics of these amendments are that these bodies have jurisdiction over state institutions (SIPA and border police) but also over local police bodies.

Six members of SDA, SDP and SDS parties voted against the provisions which would introduce a police coordination directorate, a policing support agency and other independent supervisory bodies in the police structure of Bosnia. Votes in favour were cast be six members of SBiH, SNSD, HDZ BiH and HDZ 1990.

The no-go report will be submitted to the Bosnian Parliament, and if it is adopted, the bills will be rejected. If it is not, the bill will be sent for a repeated deliberation and vote by the Commission.

The International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak expressed his disappointment by the fact that the Commission failed to submit to the Bosnian Parliament the police reform bill for adoption, and expressed his hope that this would be rectified in its next meeting with a positive report.

The Bosnian Parliament's House of Representatives will discuss the police reform bill next week, and it can then ask the Commission to reconsider its decision.

Lajcak said that this session should take place as soon as possible, because every day wasted takes the country further away from signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (March 14,2008) – During a deeply moving testimony yesterday at the trial of Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo, Nedjo Zeljaja and Djordjislav Askraba before the Bosnian State Court, a prosecution witness described how she was tortured by the genocidal Serbian aggressor during her detention and the disappearance of her husband.

Holding a framed photograph of her husband, Dzemila Redjovic, Prosecution witness, recounted ''black Thursday'', the day he was taken away.

''This is my husband and I have brought his photo so judges can see the youth they have killed. He was a wonderful father who gave me two children,'' said the witness as she wept.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor charges Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo, Nedjo Zeljaja and Djordjislav Askraba with the murder, rape, torture, forceful disappearance and the destruction of property belonging to Bosnians,during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia in 1992 and 1993,in the area around the Bosnian town of Kalinovik.

''I will always remember that black Thursday because on the morning of June 25, 1992, Rasid received an invitation to report to Municipality building. I went with him. It was sunny in Kalinovik that morning and suddenly clouds had appeared and rain started. In front of the Municipality building, a lot of men gathered and they were brought inside. When I returned home I told my father-in-law what happened and he replied ''my daughter, who knows when we will see Rasid again and he may never be returned'', recalled Redjovic, adding she still has not found the remains of her husband.

Redjovic said the next day, on June 26, 1992, she saw Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo and Grujo Lalovic and asked them for information about her husband.

''Lalovic told me that my Rasid has been detained for various reasons and he pointed to Bundalo and said that he will send him to search my house,'' adding that she did not see Bundalo after that.

''I cannot remember exactly when, but my father-in-law came to me and said that all men were taken by trucks towards the gunpowder warehouse. We went every day, even as it rained, in hope they will let us see our husbands, but we were told that Askraba is in charge and we have to ask him,'' she recounted.

The indictment states that Serbian war criminal Djordjislav Askraba was manager of the concentration camp known as the ''Barutni magacin" (Gunpowder warehouse) from July 7 to August 5 1992, and Serbian war criminals Bundalo and Zeljaja, according to the Prosecution were participating in the ''establishing and organising'' of the oncentration camps in the Kalinovik area.

'' I remember I came to see Rasid a second time on July 27, 1992 and they let me talk to him a bit longer that time. He asked about my son and daughter and through his tears told me that they (the detained Bosnian men) will be taken to Foca to be killed. That was the last time I saw my husband and never again. Never again,'' said Redjovic.

The witness testified that in August 1992 she and her father-in-law were detained in the elementary school in Kalinovik and kept there for 26 days. According to her testimony, detained Bosnian civilians were tortured there by the genocidal serbian aggressor on a daily basis by Serbian war criminal Dragoljub Kunarac and other Serbian aggressor's soldiers.

Serbian war criminal Dragoljub Kunarac was sentenced at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague to 28 years of imprisonment.

They ripped my hair and poured hot water on my hands. She has seven puncture wounds on her body and those scars will never heal. Wounds were infected and upon my release doctors had to clean and stitch them. In that school building, was where my children completed their elementary education and we were kept imprisoned and several times soldiers asked us to undress. Once I was standing naked in front of my father-in-law and it was difficult that he saw me',' she said, adding she was exchanged with a group of between 15 to 20 Bosnian women by the end of August.

The witness said that on August 8 1992, Serbian war crimianl Pero Elez took her father-in-law. She identified his remains in 2006 after the exhumation of a mass grave in the Kalinovik area.

Serbian war criminal Pero Elez is considered to be killed during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

During cross examination, Redjovic said that she saw Serbian war criminal Nedjo Zeljaja just once by the end of August 1992.

The trial of Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo, Nedjo Zeljaja and Djordjislav Askrab will continue today,before the Bosnian State Court,when the Prosecution is scheduled to examine more witnesses.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (March 14,2008) – After failing to appear for a second time at a plea hearing, the Bosnian State Court made the decision yesterday to issue an arrest warrant for Croatian war criminal Ivan Hrkac.

The plea hearing was attended only by the Prosecution Attorney Dzemila Begovic, while the Defence Attorney informed the Court that he has obligations concerning another case.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor considers Croatian war criminal Ivan Hrkac as a member of the fascist paramilitary formations of the croatians living in Bosnia (HVO), with participating, between May and July 1993,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia,in the mistreatment of captured members of the Bosnian POWS as well as Bosnian civilians in the elementary school in Dobrokovici nearby Siroki Brijeg.

"The Prosecution claims from the start that indictee is in hiding, which is one of the reasons for our insistence on a custody order,'' said Begovic, adding that on this basis, an international arrest warrant could also be issued, so Croatian war criminal Ivan Hrkac could be apprehended ''anywhere in the world.''

The Defence attorney strictly denied at one of the previous hearings that his client fled from justice and instead claimed he is undergoing medical treatment in Croatia.

The next plea hearing will be set ''as soon as the indictee is apprehended.''


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (March 14,2008) – The Bosnian Central Election Commission President Suad Arnautovic, the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak and Head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Bosnia Ambassador Douglas Davidson signed in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo a Memorandum of Understanding which will guarantee that the OHR and OSCE continue ensuring two advisors each to the Bosnian Central Election Commission, for the purpose of offering legal and expert assistance.

Suad Arnautovic, President of Bosnian Central Election Commission, emphasized that the advisors will be experts which will be nominated by the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR). They will offer expert and legal advice as well as assistance to the Bosnian Central Election Commission Secretariat in the process of electoral laws’ implementation.

Arnautovic stated that the Memorandum signed is valid for the period of one year. It can be terminated earlier, if all the conditions are fulfilled.

He especially emphasized that the activities of the Bosnian Central Election Commission will be completely independent, as proscribed by the law.

Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia Ambassador Douglas Davidson is of the opinion that one of the issues everybody can be proud of is the achievements made by the Bosnian Central Election Commission.

Ambassador Davidson is of the opinion that the Commission, in the process of implementation of the three electoral cycles, has proven no to be in need for any kind of assistance, previously provided by the International Community. However, he expressed pleasure over the fact that the Bosnian Central Election Commission called the OSCE to continue providing advisory assistance in the year to come, for OSCE can share the experience of other countries in Bosnia.

OHR is ready to offer support and expert advice but, Lajcak stated that it is extremely important that the full responsibility for the elections process lies in the hands of the domestic authorities from the year of 2005. In that sense, he emphasized the efforts made by the Bosnian Central Election Commission officials, who have shown a high level of professionalism.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (March 14,2008) – The Bosnian Minister of Civil Affairs Sredoje Novic and regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Europe Marc Danzon signed in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo the cooperation agreement and memorandum of understanding between Bosnia and regional World Health Organization office.

With this agreement for 2008 and 2009, WHO ensured 1.600.000 US Dollars for implementation of priorities in the field of strengthening the healthcare system in Bosnia.

Priorities concern improvement of conscientious management in the health system, quality of health service and protection and strengthening of monitoring system with special attention to vaccination and fight against tuberculosis.

This two year agreement is a part of preliminary mid-term frame for the cooperation of the regional WHO office and Bosnia for the period 2008-2013.

Signatories expressed their satisfaction with the continuance of cooperation between the WHO and Bosnia.

Minister Novic stated that this agreement enables Bosnia to gain assets for improving its health system.


SREBRENICA, Bosnia (March 14,2008) - MyCycle d.o.o. – the Bosnian unit of a Slovenia based company will start with the production of wheelchairs in Srebrenica in early June. The initial inauguration date was pushed back from April due to bad weather slowing down contractors.

Ljubljana-based Granas GCO Naserov k.d. plans to move its entire production from Slovenia to the Potocari economic zone as soon as possible, a company official announced. 180 of the local employees will be sent for a one-month training in Slovenia.

The investment is worth some 7.5 million Euros, and the factory is expected to make 120,000 units a year (90 per cent for export).


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (March 14,2008) - The World Bank’s office in Bosnia has established the Civil Society Fund, known earlier as the Small Grants Programme (SGP).

All interested organizations have been invited to apply for the funds in the area of programmes aimed at socially vulnerable groups, the disabled, minorities, youth and others.

This is the ninth consecutive year that the World Bank is awarding small grants to civil organizations in Bosnia, the The World Bank office’s release stated. The grants are normally from 3,000 to 7,000 US Dollars per organization.