Updated: 10-Aug-2001 NATO Press Releases


10 August 2001

Statement by the Secretary General of NATO
The Right Hon. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen

On 10 August 2001, SFOR detained Vidoje Blagojevic, who was under a sealed indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes. He has been transferred to The Hague.

Vidoje Blagojevic was under sealed indictment for war crimes committed as the Commander, 1st Bratunac Light Infantry Brigade between 11 July and 18 July 1995. During this time, forces under Blagojevic’s command and control participated in numerous insstances of opportunistic killings of Bosnia Muslim men shortly after they had been captured. Blagojevic’s forces participated in the systematic summary executions of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men who were initially detained and then transported to execution sites throughout the territory under the control of the VRS Drina Corps. During this same period, forces under Blagojevic also contributed to either expelling or killing most of the members of the Bosnian Muslim population of the Srebrenica enclave. Accordingly, Blagojevic is accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war.

Today’s action is another step in NATO’s drive to arrest the remaining war crime indictees and reflects NATO’s commitment to bringing to justice those who perpetrated war crimes and atrocities. There will be no hiding place for anyone accused by the ICTY of these horrific crimes. Let today’s arrest serve as a warning to those with guilty consciences: there is no escape, turn yourself in.

This action was undertaken in accordance with SFOR’s mandate that authorises 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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