Updated: 01-Apr-2002 NATO Press Releases


1 April 2002

Statement by the Secretary General of NATO

Today, SFOR detained Momir Nikolic, who was under indictement by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes. There were no casualties sustained in this operation by SFOR, Mr. Nikolic or anyone in the surrounding area. Nikolic is being transferred to the Hague. I am grateful to the SFOR troops and their commanders for their courage, professionalism and dedication in carrying out this action. Each fugitive sent to The Hague makes it easier to build a lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Momir Nikolic is under indictment for war crimes committed in and around the Srebrenica enclave from July to November 1995. As a captain first class and assistant commander for security and intelligence of the Bratunac Brigade during this time, Nikolic contributed to the opportunistic killing and systematic execution of Bosnian Muslim men while attempting to ethnically cleanse the Srebrenica enclave area. Nikolic is accused of genocide, forcible transfer and inhumane acts as crimes against humanity ; and murder as a violation of the laws or customs of war.

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. SACEUR, as overall commander for SFOR, has kept me fully informed of this action. SFOR will continue to do its part by carrying out its mandate in a firm and even-handed manner.

Let today's detention serve as a warning. There will be no hiding place for anyone accused by the Tribunal of these horrific crimes. Let me be crystal clear to those with guilty consciences, you have only two choices : turn yourself in with dignity or justice will be brought to you.

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. Accordingly, I call on all authorities in the region, including Belgrade, to fully cooperate with the Tribunal in order to promote a stable and lasting peace.

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