Updated: 03-Apr-2000 NATO Press Releases

(2000) 036

3 April 2000

Statement by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, on actions by SFOR to detain persons indicted for war crimes

At 03:17 this morning, 3 April 2000, SFOR detained Momcilo Krajisnik, who was under a sealed indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes. He is now being processed for transfer to The Hague.

Momcilo Krajisnik is under a sealed indictment for war crimes. Between July 1, 1991 and December 31, 1992, Bosnian Serb forces, under the direction and control of Krajisnik, then a leading member of the Serbian Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina, secured control of several municipalities which had been proclaimed part of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of war, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, including murder, wilful killing, extermination, complicity in genocide, deportation, and inhumane acts.

This arrest -- the sixth since I became Secretary General -- represents the capture by SFOR of the highest ranking person indicted for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia thus far. It is good news for justice, and good news for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. To those individuals who remain at large I will repeat what I have said many times before: The net is closing. It is time to turn yourselves in.

When the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina go to the polls for municipal elections in just five days time, they should turn away from the failed politics of ethnic hatred and vote for a new future as part of a democratic and tolerant Europe. And they can do so with the knowledge that the international community is with them, justice is being done, and a brighter future for Bosnia and Herzegovina is theirs for the taking at the ballot box.

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 Resolution.

The parties to the Dayton Peace Agreement remain responsible for cooperating 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. 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.

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