Updated: 25-Apr-2000 NATO Press Releases

(2000) 039

22 April 2000

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

On 21 April, SFOR detained Dragan Nicolic, who is indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY). He is now being processed for transfer to The Hague.

Dragan Nicolic is under an open indictment for war crimes. In the summer of 1992, he was the commander of a camp at Susica, in north-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Set up within one month after the takeover by Serbian forces of the Bosnian city of Vlasenica, on about 21 April 1992, this camp was closed down in September 1992. The Susica camp was run by military and local MUP (militia). He is accused of crimes against humanity, violations of the laws or customs of war, and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention of 1948 including murder, torture, unlawful imprisonment and other inhumane acts.

Yet another fugitive from justice has been arrested in Bosnia-Herzegovina and taken to face trial in The Hague. This represents the seventh such arrest since I took over as Secretary General in October of last year. Slowly but surely, those responsible for heinous crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina are being forced to face up to their actions. Justice is being done. For without justice, there can be no lasting peace in the Balkans. To those who remain as fugitives, I repeat my warning: The clock is ticking. It is time to turn yourselves in.

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 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.

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