Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson
on actions by SFOR to detain Mitar Vasiljevic,
indicted for War Crimes
On 25 January 2000, SFOR soldiers detained Mitar Vasiljevic, who is
indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia
(ICTY). He is now being processed for transfer to The Hague. Details will
be provided in due course by the operational commanders.
Mitar Vasiljevic is under sealed indictment for war crimes committed
between April 1992 and October 1994. Vasiljevic was a member of the paramilitary
unit "White Eagles" operating in the municipality of Visegrad
and the surrounding area. While a member of this unit, Mitar Vasiljevic
is believed to have committed serious crimes, including murder and inhumane
treatment of Bosnian Muslim and other non-Serb civilians, which fall under
the jurisdiction of the ICTY.
Today's apprehension is another step in NATO's drive to arrest the remaining
war crime indictees. Each one sent to The Hague makes it easier to build
a lasting peace in the Balkans. There will be no hiding place for anyone
accused by the International Criminal Tribunal of these horrific crimes.
Let today's arrest, the third in two months, serve as a warning to those
with guilty consciences. It's time to turn yourself in.
Today's 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 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.
The parties to the Dayton Peace Agreement remain responsible for co-operating
in the investigation and prosecution of war crimes and other violations
of international/ humanitarian law. SFOR will continue to do its part
by carrying out its mandate in a firm and even-handed manner.
SACEUR, as overall commander for SFOR, has kept me fully informed of
this action. I should like to commend 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.