Tuesday, August 19, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (August 19,2008) - The non-governmental organization of the Croatians living in Bosnia "the Croatia Libertas NGO" stated yesterday that the decision to paint the sidewalks green in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo is "a pure provocation".

“This is a message of intolerance and a perfidious scene of 'ethnic cleansing' that was preconceived by Bosnians as a way to drive away people of other ethnicities and religions living in Sarajevo,” said NGO President Leo Pločkinić.

Pločkinić said that nowhere in the world were streets and sidewalks painted green,the color traditionally linked with Islam,not even in Tehran.

Bosnian workers painting sidewalks green in Sarajevo

“It is clear that Sarajevo wants to be a greater Tehran than the capital city of the Islamic Republic of Iran itself,” Pločkinić surmised.

Sarajevo Mayor Semiha Borovac said that painting the sidewalks and streets green is good for the city, simply because the city lacked greenery.

However,Miro Lazović,one of the leaders of the Bosnian Social-Democratic Union, said that this should not be regarded as provocation, and that the move has been misinterpreted.

“The green sidewalks were meant to mark the 14th Sarajevo Film Festival, and in that context I believe that those who draw some other connotations from the green sidewalks have a political agenda of their own,” he said.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (August 19,2008) - Aida Begic, Bosnian film director of the debut feature “Snow” that opened at the 14th Sarajevo Film Festival on Friday, said that she is proud that Iran is one of the sponsors of the movie and that she is hoping to see it onscreen in Iran’s cinema halls soon.

Iran’s Experimental and Documentary Film Center (EDFC) is among the sponsors of the movie. “Snow” is a joint production of Bosnia, Germany, France, and Iran.

The film is about a group of Bosnian villagers, most of them women, returning to their remote village after the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

In an interview with EDFC Public Relations Office,Begic talked about the primary idea of the movie.

She remarked, “The major idea came to my mind when filmmaker Faruk Sabanovic and I were talking about our dreams for our country and both of us were wondering whether there were any dreams at all? We believe in the country of Bosnia and that its people are very special. They have experienced horrible events during the war but nonetheless remained human.”

“Unfortunately, there remain many people who are living under dire conditions. We must live with this painful fact that the war criminals continue to live free and there is no one to speak about the war and for its victims any more,” she went on to say.

She also stated that she believes people must talk about the past and its hardships at length so that they might have a better and healthier future.

She concluded by saying that she is now working on a new project in which she will depict the problems of Bosnian women.

“Snow” is set in the small isolated village of Slavno four years after the war in Bosnia. A government delegation comes to Slavno, offering the villagers money to leave the village. But, the villagers, mostly women, find it hard to abandon their home and decide to fight for their freedom and the survival of Slavno.

The film was awarded the International Critics Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Festival in May.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (August 19,2008) - The possibility of Judge Alphonse Orie presiding over the trial of former leader and creator of the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia "RS" and one of the masterminds of the genocide against the Bosnian people, committed during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia,Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic caused a stir in Bosnia and the legal community, with concern focused on potential conflicts of interest as a result of his prior involvement in several high-profile cases at the tribunal.

While Judge Orie has not been officially assigned to the case of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic – arguably one of the most significant trials in the annals of international justice – his appointment as pre-trial presiding judge makes this highly probable.

In legal terms, a conflict of interest refers to a situation when a lawyer or judge has competing professional or personal obligations or interests that make it hard to fulfill his or her duties fairly.

As one of the most experienced judges at the tribunal, Judge Orie will have an intricate knowledge of events which took place during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, as well as of previous tribunal jurisprudence. However, some observers say that his involvement in other trials could place him in a difficult position.

Twelve years ago, the judge acted as co-counsel in the defence team of Serbian war criminal Dusko Tadic, the first Serbian living in Bosnia indicted for war crimes by the Hague court, who was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and jailed for 20 years. He was also presiding judge in the case of the convicted Serbian war criminal Momcilo Krajisnik,a close ally of Serbian fascist and mass murderer Radovan Karadzic, who was found guilty of crimes against humanity, but acquitted of genocide charges. In 2006, Serbian war criminal Momcilo Krajisnik was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Judge Orie’s involvement in other cases means he should not preside over the case of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic, according to Fadila Memisevic from the Sarajevo-based section of human rights organisation Society for Threatened Peoples.

She said that statements Orie made in earlier cases indicate that a possible conflict of interest could emerge during the trial of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

“If we carefully read the decision in the Krajisnik case, it seems that Judge Orie agreed with Serbian 'experts' and 'witnesses' who claimed that what happened in Bosnia was just a civil war – unplanned and impossible to control – which was also the view taken by the Tadic defence,” Memisevic said.

Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic prosecutors are expected to argue the opposite – that mass killings, persecution and deportation of Bosnian civilians from large swathes of Bosnia,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia, were all part of a plan – the aim of which was to secure control of those areas which had been proclaimed part of the genocidal Serbian fascist creature in Bosnia "RS".

“What worries me most is that Judge Orie’s take on the events in Bosnia [as outlined in the Krajisnik judgement] could influence his judgement in the Karadzic case,” she added.

Amor Masovic of the Bosnian Missing Persons Committee had concerns about Orie having previously defended Serbian war criminal Dusko Tadic.

“Dusko Tadic was a soldier of the army whose superior commander was Karadzic. Being the defence lawyer of that soldier and then being a judge in a case against his commander is, to put it mildly, very problematic from the point of view of justice,” he said.

A Bosnian lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that a judge with previous involvement as a defence lawyer in a related trial would never be appointed to preside a case in a Bosnian war crimes court.

He said the perception that there could be a conflict of interest should be enough to prompt Orie to stand down.

“I think it is up to Judge Orie to recognise the importance of Karadzic case and step down, because too many people believe he might have some prejudice in this trial,” said the lawyer.

Some legal experts outside Bosnia have similar concerns.

Goran Sluiter, a professor of international criminal law at the University of Amsterdam, points out that the Krajisnik judgement states that Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic was part of a criminal conspiracy with his former colleague, Serbian war criminal Momcilo Krajisnik.

“The trial chamber led by Judge Orie has already established that Krajisnik and Karadzic were members of a ‘joint criminal enterprise’, which served as the basis for the conviction of Krajisnik, ” he said.

Sluiter notes the many similiarities between the two Serbian war criminals’ indictments and argues that findings in the Krajisnik judgement seem to implicate Karadzic.

“Reading the Krajisnik judgement, one notices numerous highly incriminating findings concerning Karadzic,” he said.

“Basically, it appears that by considering Karadzic as a member of this joint criminal enterprise, the trial chamber convicted not only Krajisnik, but Karadzic as well.”

Dr Carole Hodge, tribunal expert and author of Britain and the Balkans, said she felt uneasy about Judge Orie presiding over the trial of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic – particularly as, in her view, “a very narrow definition of genocide was adopted” in the Krajisnik judgement.

Judges in the case of Serbian war criminal Momcilo Krajisnik found that while there was evidence that crimes committed in Bosnia constituted the actus reus, or criminal act, of genocide, they did not establish that the accused possessed mens rea, or genocidal intent, which is needed to prove the charge.

While Hodge noted that in strict legal terms it could be argued that there would be no conflict of profesional and personal interests for Orie, she said given the gravity of the Karadzic trial – and its wide-reaching implications in the region and for international law – it would be in the interests of justice to select judges who have no previous involvement in related cases.

Professor of international law and director of Transnational Law Institute at Washington and Lee University, Mark Drumble, said that if Judge Orie were to preside over the trial, “the competing history of events that was raised in Tadic's defence might raise the spectre of conflict of interests, especially if that same general evidence were tendered against Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

“That said, it's entirely up to the parties to make an objection on this issue, else the discussion is just theoretical”.

Spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Nerma Jelacic said that the court’s rules allow any party who might have some concerns with regard to possible judicial prejudice or conflict of interests to raise them before the tribunal’s judges.

According to tribunal rules, “A judge may not sit on a trial or appeal in any case in which…the judge has or has had any association which might affect his or her impartiality. The judge shall in any such circumstance withdraw, and the president shall assign another judge to the case.”

According to Geoffrey Nice, British lawyer and former prosecutor in the case against ex-Yugoslav president,Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, the fact that Judge Orie acted as defence counsel in the caseof Serbian war criminal Dusko Tadic should not mean there will be a conflict of interest if he presides over the trial of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

“Advocates and judges are expected to act objectively and dispassionately, on the basis of instructions given by a defendant [if defending as an advocate] or on the basis of evidence [if making decisions as a judge],” he said.

He added that in theory, Judge Orie’s findings in the case of Serbian war criminal Momcilo Krajisnik – which identified Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic as a member of a joint criminal enterprise – should not present a problem either.

“His having already made a factual decision as a judge in another case that there was a joint criminal enterprise involving Karadzic of the same kind as charged in this indictment should create no technical difficulty, as a judge should be able to put out of her or his mind the evidence received and decisions made in an earlier trial,” he said.

However, he added that in a trial like that of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic where the issue is “so serious and substantial”, this might be difficult in practice.

“It might be thought to be asking the impossible of a judge to decide the issue of Karadzic's participation in a [joint criminal enterprise] on the evidence in this trial without regard to the finding made in the previous trial – where Karadzic was not present to argue his position,” he said.

“This could found an argument to have Orie recuse [disqualify] himself from the Karadzic trial,” he said, adding that the issue should be dealt with fully by the tribunal.

“Of course, if the prosecution is able to get the previous conviction [of Krajisnik] and the previous finding of a [joint criminal enterprise] involving Karadzic into evidence within the tribunal's rules then the problem could be overcome.

“But the decisions about admitting that conviction on that basis would rest with Orie and his fellow judges so the same or similar problems of prejudice or pre-judgement would arise.”

It would clearly be easier to meet these possible problems by having the Karadzic case presided over by a judge who does not have these difficulties to face, concluded Nice.

Jelacic defended the choice of Judge Orie as pre-trial judge.

“Like all other judges, [Judge Orie’s] post was approved by the UN General Assembly,” she said. “[He] is one of the most experienced and well respected judges of this tribunal,” she said.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (August 19,2008) - Bosnian car dealer and parts producer ASA Holding, Bosnia's largest private company, expects about a 20 percent rise in turnover this year due to strong demand, its general manager said today. Car sales have risen by 20 percent annually in recent years in Bosnia, and ASA Holding had a 41 percent market share in 2007, said Nihad Imamovic, who is also a co-owner of the company that employs more than 3,600 people.

Imamovic said he expects turnover of 425 million Euros ($625.8 million) this year.

"We shall increase turnover by 18-20 percent from the last year due to the growth in car sales in Bosnia, our stronger engagement in the sector and bigger orders from our partners," he said in an interview.

ASA Holding consists of ASA Group which deals in Volkswagen , Peugeot, Porsche and cars from other world carmakers and Prevent Group, which assembles car parts and manufactures leather seat covers.

Prevent, part of the Slovenia-based Prevent Group, is a strategic partner of Germany's Volkswagen in Bosnia, where they run a small operation assembling Volkswagen and Skoda models at a Sarajevo plant.

Prevent, the third-largest exporter in Bosnia, exports 85 percent of its production to the European Union market, mainly to Germany, France and Slovenia. Its exports of 143 million Euros in 2007 should rise 20 percent this year as well, Imamovic said.

Business officials from the sector also expect higher output after Volkswagen moves a car metal components assembly line from its Martin plant in northern Slovakia to Bosnia, as announced earlier this month.

Imamovic, who is also president of Bosnia's Employers Association, said the move would result in 600 new jobs.He said a new line would be important for the Bosnian economy, which suffers from about 40 percent unemployment.

"Each new job opening is a big thing in this country, let alone 600 jobs," he said.

Imamovic said the move followed the June signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Bosnia and the European Union.

"The working force is far cheaper here than in the European Union," he said, explaining that Volkswagen had considered opening an assembly line in Bosnia in the 1990s but had to cancel the plans due to the 1992-95 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

Before the war, Volkswagen fully assembled about 400,000 cars in Bosnia.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (August 19,2008) - Representatives of the largest Bosnian political party - the Party of Democratic Action (Bosnian: Stranka Demokratske Akcije - SDA) are refusing to adopt documents of the Bosnian State Agency for Statistics about preparations for census in 2011.

Sefik Dzaferovic, member of the House of Representatives of the Bosnian State Parliament and of the SDA, stated yesterday that Bosnian politicians are not against the census and adds that SDA just does not approve of abuse of the census and that the census from 1991 should be used for the purposes of distribution of authority and seats.

He said the ethnic composition of Bosnia was violently changed during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia and that the use of the census from 2011 would be to legalizate results of the aggression and genocide.