Updated: 11-Apr-2003 NATO Press Releases

(2003) 039

11 April 2003

SFOR's detention
of indicted war criminal Naser Oric

On 10 April, SFOR detained Naser Oric, who is under indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Mr. Oric was detained in the vicinity of Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has been transferred to The Hague. There were no casualties sustained in the course of this operation.

Following this action, NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said, “I am deeply grateful to the SFOR soldiers and their commanders for their courage, professionalism and dedication in carrying out this operation. This action is another step in NATO’s drive to detain the remaining war crime indictees. Each fugitive sent to The Hague makes it easier to build a lasting peace in the Balkans.”

Naser Oric is charged with violations of the laws or customs of war committed while serving as Commander of the Srebrenica Division during the period June 1992 to March 1993. Oric planned, instigated, ordered or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of: murder and cruel treatment; wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, not justified by military necessity; and plunder of public or private property. Units of the Srebrenica Division burned and otherwise destroyed and plundered a minimum of fifty predominantly Serb villages and hamlets in the municipalities of Bratunac, Srebrenica and Skelani.

Eighty-six out of 111 persons indicted for war crimes by the Tribunal have now been brought to justice. Some turned themselves in voluntarily at the time and place of their choosing. Others were forcibly apprehended.

Secretary General Lord Robertson added, “SFOR’s detention serves as a warning. There is no place to hide for anyone accused by the Tribunal of these horrific crimes. I call on all remaining fugitives, in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, to surrender to the Tribunal. 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 net is closing.”

This detention was undertaken in accordance with SFOR’s mandate. SACEUR, as overall commander for SFOR, has kept the Secretary General fully informed of this action. SFOR will continue to do its part by carrying out its mission in a firm and even-handed manner.

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, Lord Robertson today said, “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.”

News and information will routinely be posted on the NATO website.

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