9 Jan. 1999

Statement by

the Secretary General of NATO, Dr Javier Solana, on SFOR's Action Against an Indicted War Criminal

This morning, SFOR elements in Bosnia Herzegovina, acting within the SFOR mandate, attempted to detain Dragan Gagovic, a person indicted for war crimes. During the detention operation, Gagovic drove his car directly at SFOR soldiers, threatening their lives. In self-defence, SFOR soldiers opened fire and shot Gagovic. Following the incident, Gagovic was taken to a medical facility and pronounced dead upon arrival. There were no other casualties. This action was taken within the SFOR mandate, and the response was appropriate under the applicable rules of engagement.

Dragan Gagovic had been openly indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for crimes against Humanity and, among others, Violations of the Laws or Customs of War.

This action was undertaken in accordance with SFOR's mandate that authorizes detention operations for such persons. It was within the mandate given to SFOR by the North Atlantic Council under authority contained in the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

The International Community has made it clear that bringing indicted war criminals to justice is an essential part of building peace and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to maintain a secure environment conducive to peace. I call upon the parties in Bosnia Herzegovina to fulfil their responsibilities under the Dayton Peace Accords.

Other persons indicted for war crimes who are still at large will also be brought to justice. Once again I call on these indictees to surrender immediately to the ICTY.

SACEUR, as overall commander for SFOR, has kept me fully informed of this operation.

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