Bosnia, Serbia Strike Deal On War Crimes


By Bojana Barlovac

Bosnia and Serbia have made a breakthrough deal on tracking down and prosecuting fugitive Bosnia war crimes suspects.

Bosnian and Serbian war crimes prosecutor’s offices are to sign a protocol on cooperation in the prosecution of war crime suspects on November 30, Balkan Insight has learned from the Serbian Justice Ministry.

In what is seen as major breakthrough, the two sides agreed on the final text at a meeting in Sarajevo on Wednesday.

The accord is aimed at addressing the issue of parallel investigations and facilitates the mutual transfer of evidence.

According to deal, it will now be possible for suspects to be tried in their home country for war crimes committed in another. Serbia has already signed a similar accord with Croatia.

Serbian war crimes prosecutor’s office has confirmed to Balkan Insight that the protocol will prevent parallel investigations taking place into cases – a stumbling block in the past in terms of cooperation between the two.

Bosnia’s prosecutors’ office has also confirmed the deal in a statement.

However, both offices have refused to reveal more details of the deal until it is officially signed.

As the UN war crimes court, International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, wraps up its work, lower-profile cases were left to local courts in the Balkan countries to deal with. However, numeous war crime suspects in the region have tried to evade justice by hiding behind laws barring extradition to another country.

The chief UN war crimes prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, also insisted on such an accord during his last visit to the region earlier this month.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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