Some five thousand Bosnians protested on Saturday in support of Bosnian General Jovan Divjak, arrested on Thursday on a warrant from Serbia, where he is accused of war crimes.
Protesters gathered in downtown Sarajevo to speak out against the arrest of Divjak, who is considered by many in Bosnia to be a national hero.
Protesters yelled: “Give us Jova back!”, “Jovo, our Serb, the whole city is with you!”, as they demonstrated in front of the Austrian and Serbian embassies and the country’s presidency.
General Jovan Divjak is suspected by Serbia of war crimes related to his alleged involvement in an attack on a convoy of the Yugoslav People’s Army as it was leaving Sarajevo in May 1992.
This case is particularly significant because Divjak, who was born to Serb parents, fought for Bosnia’s state army during the war. He is a self-declared Bosnian.
Divjak was placed in custody by an Austrian court on Friday for two weeks, Haris Hrle, Bosnian ambassador to Austria, confirmed to BIRN-Justice Report.
Meanwhile, the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina has filed a request for the extradition of Divjak to Bosnian judicial authorities, based on an ongoing investigation into the events that happened on Dobrovoljacka Street in Sarajevo. Serbia said on Friday that it also planned to request Divjak’s extradition.
The retired general of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ABiH, is on Serbia’s list of those considered responsible in the so-called “Dobrovoljacka case”, which stems from incidents that occured on May 3, 1992.
Divjak was a direct participant in the events on Dobrovoljacka street in Sarajevo on May 3, 1992. Soldiers from the former Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, were attacked as they withdrew from the capital as part of an agreement to release Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, who had been captured by Serb forces. A number of soldiers from the JNA were killed in the incident.
Divjak’s arrest has been heavily criticised by Bosnian politicians, and both Bosnian and Serbian NGOs.