22 Jan. 1998

Statement by the Secretary General on SFOR's action against indicted war criminals

(includes additional information to (98)7)

On 22 January 1998, SFOR acted to detain Goran Jelisic, who is indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He is now being processed for immediate transfer to the Hague.

Jelesic has been indicted by the ICTY for the murder of more than 16 persons, torture, theft, plunder and ordering the murder of many others. In a recent interview with a Dutch newspaper Jelesic bragged that he was known as the "Serb Adolph" and challenged the International Community to bring him to justice.

There were no casualties sustained during the action. Today's action resulted following the identification of Jelisic on the streets of Bijeljina. This action was undertaken in accordance with SFOR's mandate, which authorises it to detain persons indicted for war criminals when encountered in the course of its duties. This mandate was given to SFOR by the North Atlantic Council under authority contained in the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

Upon arrival at the Hague, Jelisic will be remanded to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

As has been the case throughout the IFOR and SFOR missions, we will not tolerate any behaviour by any party contrary to the Peace Agreement. SFOR will continue its firm and even-handed approach to implementing its mandate and supporting civil implementation.

This action by SFOR stands as a further warning to all those indicted for war crimes who are still at large that they, too, will be held accountable. They should take steps immediately to surrender themselves voluntarily to the ICTY. NATO also insists that the parties to the Peace Agreement comply fully with their commitment to transfer indicted war criminals to the ICTY.

The International Community has repeatedly made clear that it believes the surrender of persons indicted for war crimes is an essential part of building peace and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I should like to praise the SFOR troops and their commanders for their courage, professionalism and dedication in carrying out this action, which will contribute to the continued consolidation of the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Annex to Press Release (97)8

Background on IFOR/SFOR Support to the ICTY

IFOR (1996)

  • On 12th February, IFOR transported two Bosnian Serbs (Gen. Djukic and Col. Krsmanovic), detained as suspects and potential witnesses, from Sarajevo to The Hague.

  • On 9th May, SHAPE signed an MOU with the ICTY concering practical arrangements for the detention and transfer of indicted war criminals to the ICTY.

  • On 13th June, IFOR transported two Bosniac indictees (Ensad Landzo and Hozim Delic) from Sarajevo to The Hague.

  • Between March and October, IFOR provided security, liaison and logistical support to ICTY teams carrying out investigations or exhumations in Bosnia and Herzegovina; all three MNDs were involved.

  • IFOR conducted aerial reconnaissance and ground patrols of mass grave sites to deter any tampering.

SFOR (1997)

  • During the summer months, SFOR provided security, liaison and logistical support to ICTY teams carrying out investigations or exhumations.

  • On 10th July, SFOR undertook action against two Bosnian Serbs in Prijedor who were subject to sealed indictments; Milan Kovacevic was transferred to The Hague while Simo Drljaca died after SFOR troops returned fire in self-defence.

  • On 12th December, SFOR provided support to an ICTY team carrying out investigations in Prijedor.

  • On 18th December, SFOR took action against two Bosnian Croat indictees near Vitez; Vlatko Kvpreskic, subject to a public indictment, and Anto Furvudzija, subject to a sealed indictment, were both detained and transferred to The Hague.

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