Prosecutorial authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) said on Thursday that they would continue professionally prosecuting all war crimes suspects, dismissing criticism by senior officials in the country and Croatia that they have been unjustifiably prosecuting Bosniaks and Croats.
“Regardless of inappropriate pressure, the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue working professionally and treating everyone equally,” it said in a statement in a comment on what it described as “inappropriate pressure by individual officials”, but without being specific.
Earlier this week, Party of Democratic Action (SDA) leader Bakir Izetbegovic accused Chief State Prosecutor Gordana Tadić of prosecuting mostly Bosniaks, notably high-ranking officers of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Croatian President Zoran Milanović said earlier on Thursday that Bosnia and Herzegovina was bombarding Croatia with indictments against its wartime commanders for “made-up crimes” and noted that Croatia would “protect them at any cost.”
BiH prosecutors say that war crimes are not prosecuted according to the criterion of even ethnic representation and that most indictments refer to members of the army, police or government of the Serb entity of Republika Srpska.
In the past six years, 612 persons have been indicted for war crimes and 70% of them have been given final verdicts.
Among them are 26 persons who were charged with the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced them to around 400 years in prison in total.
Currently, a dozen indictees are on trial and several investigations have been underway, prosecutors said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is intensively looking for war crimes suspects and indictees who are hiding abroad, and many of them have been located in the USA and European countries and handed over to Bosnia and Herzegovina to stand trial.
This practice will continue, the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor said, adding that this is also owing to good regional cooperation that has been particularly welcomed by Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunal (MICT), successor to the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
SDA leader Izetbegovic last week accused Tadic of trying to change the nature of the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and apportion the blame for it by prosecuting Bosniak military commanders.
He welcomed last week's decision by a disciplinary commission to replace Tadić over an omission. The decision is still not final and Tadic is still in office.
War crimes indictments in Bosnia and Herzegovina were today also commented on by Croatian President Milanovic in his address at an event marking the 26th anniversary of Operation Storm in Knin.
“Today, in neighbouring countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, which I want to believe is our friend, we can still see accusations being made against Croatian wartime commanders for unproved or made-up crimes of collective or command responsibility of 26 years ago. Croatia should simply say no to such accusations. These people will not be put on trial in Croatia and we will protect them at any cost. They are our wartime commanders!” Milanovic stressed.
Croatia and BiH do not extradite to each other their nationals charged with war crimes who hold dual citizenship, but the country where they are staying can prosecute them if the prosecutorial authorities of the country that has indicted them request so and submit the necessary documentation.