IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Bosnia’s chief administrator fires top Serbs

/ Source: The Associated Press

The head of Bosnian Serb Parliament said Wednesday that he was fired by the country’s international administrator for not cooperating in the hunt for top war crimes suspect, Radovan Karadzic.

Dragan Kalinic announced his dismissal as international administrator Paddy Ashdown told reporters in Sarajevo he was firing 60 Bosnian Serb officials for obstructing the peace process in postwar Bosnia. Among them was Bosnian Serb Interior Minister Zoran Djeric, in charge of police.

The firings came a day after the lead U.N. war crimes prosecutor for former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte, said at the United Nations that she was confident Karadzic would be nabbed as early as Wednesday.

Del Ponte said Karadzic, who played a key role in the Balkan wars, was being pursued, but would go no further in explaining her optimism.

“Of course I have (information). But you all understand that I cannot tell it now publicly,” Del Ponte said Tuesday. “Let’s obtain the arrest of Karadzic and after we will speak about what we have done.”

Karadzic was the leader of Bosnia’s Serbs during the 1992-1995 ethnic war that took 260,000 lives and left 1.8 million people homeless.

He and fellow-fugitive Ratko Mladic, his top general, have been indicted by the U.N. war crimes court at The Hague for their alleged roles in atrocities that included the Serb massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica.

Karadzic's capture expected
Del Ponte was responding to a question about earlier reports that she felt Karadzic would be handed over to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, this month. When a reporter noted that June ends on Wednesday, she replied: “I’m still expecting (it), yes. But let’s see.”

Del Ponte, the lead United Nations war crimes prosecutor, spoke after appearing before the U.N. Security Council. She told diplomats it was unacceptable that Karadzic and Mladic were still fugitives nearly 10 years after the Dayton peace agreement was signed ending the war in Bosnia.

Kalinic also lost his position as head of the Serb Democratic Party, which was founded by Karadzic and governs the Serb half of Bosnia. The party is widely blamed for helping the wartime leader of Bosnia’s Serbs evade capture over the past eight years.

Kalinic was defiant as he announced his resignation.

“Many are helpless because of the fact that Karadzic is most likely protected by God and angels,” he told the Bosnian Serb Parliament in Banja Luka.

NATO-led raids unsuccessful
While Mladic is believed to spending much of his time in neighboring Serbia, Karadzic is thought to be hiding in Bosnia. NATO-led peacekeepers deployed here have standing orders to arrest him, but dozens of raids have been unsuccessful — Karadzic has a network of supporters and is believed to change his location several times a day.

Kalinic threatened to take Ashdown to the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg for firing him, saying that as of Thursday he is forbidden to enter his office, receive his salary and exercise any public or political post.

Any legal action against Ashdown is unlikely to succeed, however. Under the peace accord that ended the 1992-1995 war, he has the power to impose laws and fire any official deemed an obstacle to the peace process.

Under Djeric, the fired interior minister, Bosnian Serb police have failed to capture a single war crimes suspect despite a mandate to do so.

According to Bosnia’s 1995 peace agreement that divided postwar Bosnia into the Serb mini state and a Croat-Muslim federation, local authorities must cooperate with the U.N. war-crimes tribunal.