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BosNet Digest V5 #33 / Jan. 23, 1996

From: Dzevat Omeragic <dzevat@EE.MCGILL.CA>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory

CONTENTS

  • [01] Investigators Look To NATO For Protection Of Mass Grave Sites

  • [02] All POWs Will Be Released Soon

  • [03] US Troops Under Fire

  • [04] Portillo: "IFOR Is Only First Step"


  • [01] Investigators Look To NATO For Protection Of Mass Grave Sites

    January 23, 1996
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    With evidence mounting, the head investigator of war crimes in Bosnia made his case to NATO commanders Monday. Justice Richard Goldstone wants security for his investigators, who will sift through mass grave sites on Bosnian Serb territory.

    "I think we reached a clear understanding which I'm confident will yield the sort of assistance we need," Goldstone said after the meeting.

    His case may have been aided Sunday by the high profile inspection of several sites in eastern Bosnia by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck. Shattuck and two war crimes tribunal investigators toured near Srebrenica, the Muslim enclave that fell to Serb forces last summer.

    Investigators are concerned about keeping that kind of evidence intact. A human rights group has already accused the Bosnian Serbs of digging up another mass grave in northwest Bosnia to destroy the evidence of atrocities.

    The request for security puts the NATO implementation force in something of a difficult position. Its mission is a military one, and compliance with war crimes investigation is supposed to be a civilian issue. Involvement could call into question NATO's neutrality on the ground.

    That was very much on the mind of the IFOR commander in Bosnia, who made his position clear on both Bosnian and Serb television. "We will not guard grave sites," said Admiral Leighton Smith. "But we will provide a secure environment for the investigators."

    Further investigation of the sites should take place soon, but actual forensic work may have to wait until a spring thaw. NATO has promised aerial and ground patrols to keep watch over Bosnia.

    [02] All POWs Will Be Released Soon

    January 23, 1996
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The top US Human Rights Official, John Shattuck, says President Izetbegovic assured him during a meeting in Sarajevo the Bosnian government will continue to free Serb war prisoners. Mr. Shattuck says the assurance was given after he told President Izetbegovic the US is deeply disappointed the Government has failed to free all its prisoners. The US official said he hopes all war prisoners in Bosnia will be freed in the immediate future.

    US Secretary of State Warren Christopher has warned the Bosnian Government might not receive economic reconstruction aid, and the Bosnian Army might not receive military training unless the Government implements the peace treaty.

    The Bosnian Government may feel it has successfully forced international attention on the thousands of missing Bosnian Muslims. The International War Crimes Tribunal expects to soon begin to investigate suspected Muslim mass graves around the Eastern enclave of Srebrenica, captured by the nationlist Serbs last July.

    [03] US Troops Under Fire

    January 23, 1996
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    American troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina have come under fire for the first time -- no Americans were hurt and they did not shoot back.

    An American military vehicle was hit by several bullets from an AK47 rifle, fired at US Forces on a routine patrol in Northeastern Bosnia. The attack is said to have occurred earlier this week, when American soldiers were going through a Croat village. It is believed to be the first time anyone has fired at American troops of the nato-led international peace force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a report to their headquarters, the soldiers said an elderly and apparently-drunk man emerged from a house and began to shoot his rifle wildly. No US troops were hurt and it is believed to be an isolated incident.

    Family members and a neighbor are said to have wrestled the man to the ground before the US troops could decide whether to return the fire.

    [04] Portillo: "IFOR Is Only First Step"

    January 23, 1996
    WASHINGTON, United States

    British Defense Secretary Michael Portillo told reporters the Bosnia operation has gotten off to a decisive start, but he emphasized the mission "will not be over" after the troops leave.

    "The implementation force represents a step change in the deployment of force in Bosnia. Its rapid deployment gave a clear signal to the parties that had been at war that NATO meant business... That is not the end of the story ... A huge humanitarian effort, led by the Europeans, will be required after the soldiers have left."

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