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BosNet Digest V5 #38 / Jan. 25, 1996

From: Nermin Zukic <n6zukic@sms.business.uwo.ca>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory

CONTENTS

  • [01] NATO Will Not Protect Mass Graves Sites?

  • [02] Energoinvest To Reemploy All Former Workers From Bosnian Army (ONASA)

  • [03] Blast Kills Three NATO Soldiers

  • [04] US Troops In Bosnia Step Up Security Against Terrorists

  • [05] Sarajevo To Get Civilian Flights In March (ONASA)

  • [06] ARMIES PULL BACK, BUT PRISONER EXCHANGE `A MESS.'

  • [07] U.S. HUMAN-RIGHTS ENVOY SEES `CLEAR EVIDENCE' OF MASSIVE WAR CRIMES DURIN SREBRENICA VISIT.

  • [08] SREBRENICA SURVIVORS STILL HUNGRY.

  • [09] CONFUSION OVER IFOR WAR-CRIMES ROLE.

  • [10] MEETING WITH MILOSEVIC.

  • [11] CROATS CONTINUE TO BLOCK MOSTAR REUNIFICATION.

  • [12] BETTER NEWS ELSEWHERE.

  • [13] MURATOVIC TO HEAD NEW BOSNIAN FEDERATION GOVERNMENT; SILAJDZIC TO STEP

  • [14] NATO SEIZES CONTROL OF KEY SARAJEVO UTILITIES. French NATO troops last

  • [15] MORE THREATS OF MASS EXODUS.

  • [16] SHAME AND REGRET.

  • [17] AND WEARINESS WITH WAR.

  • [18] Kasagic Visited Sarajevo


  • [01] NATO Will Not Protect Mass Graves Sites?

    January 25, 1996
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    NATO officials in Bosnia say they will not protect possible mass graves until war crimes investigators request protection when they start digging at the sites in the spring.

    Despite growing pressure on NATO to guard suspected mass graves, and other places where war crimes allegedly took place, NATO commanders are adamant their forces will not be drawn into such an operation, unless war crimes investigators specifically request protection while they dig at the sites, and then, as NATO spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mark Raynor says, only if NATO soldiers do not have anything else to do.

    "We have been in touch with the International Tribunal. When it requests and requires for assistance commensurate with our primary role it will be considered, and a plan will be drawn up."

    On Wednesday, Lieutenant Colonel Raynor insisted there was no NATO attempt to conduct even limited reconnaissance of suspected sites to prevent Serb tampering. Later, NATO officials said a few sites are being watched by daily NATO aerial reconnaissance flights over Bosnia.

    NATO officials say they are only monitoring specific sites where the exact coordinates are known, such as the Ljubija mine complex in northwestern Bosnia, where Serbs have reportedly buried bodies dug up from other mass graves. Dozens of other sites are not being watched at all.

    So far, NATO commanders have consistently underestimated the impact the question of mass graves and war crimes prosecutions would have on their mission. Military leaders insist on the narrowest interpretation of their mission in Bosnia, and are anxious to avoid what they call "mission creep," the slow addition of new tasks and responsibilities to military units here.

    [02] Energoinvest To Reemploy All Former Workers From Bosnian Army (ONASA)

    January 16, 1996
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The Sarajevo Energoinvest company will reemploy all 4,000 of its workers who have been demobilized from the Bosnian Army and Bosnian police, the general manager of the company said on Monday.

    "I recently issued orders to all managers that not a single demobilized soldier can be laid off," Edib Bukvic said at a session of Energoinvest managers held in Sarajevo.

    "There has to be employment for them. Those who do not carry out this task will have to give their posts to someone else," Bukvic said.

    According to Bukvic, there have been attempts to destroy giant systems in Bosnia by privatization, "which is something that is not going to happen with Energoinvest," one of the biggest industrial giant in pre-war Bosnia.

    [03] Blast Kills Three NATO Soldiers

    January 25, 1996
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    A mighty explosion tore through the Zetra stadium Wednesday, killing at least one Italian and two Portuguese soldiers. Six Italians and one Portuguese were injured, according to an IFOR spokesperson.

    Zetra, a logistics facility near a Sarajevo stadium is housing NATO troops primarily Italian and Portuguese troops.

    The blast was caused by a fragmentation bomb. A Portuguese soldier is said to have found the bomb outside the base and brought it into a room to inspect it in violation of NATO regulations.

    It was the worst military accident since the Bosnian peace mission began last month.

    In a separate incident, three French Foreign Legionnaires were injured, one seriously, when a weapon blew up during a training session on explosives at a military camp near Sarajevo.

    The incidents strengthen NATO fears that accidents are a greater threat to the international peace force than are possible attacks by the former warring forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    [04] US Troops In Bosnia Step Up Security Against Terrorists

    January 24, 1996
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Militant Muslim fighters from Iran and elsewhere might be planning attacks on U.S. targets in Bosnia, the New York Times reported Wednesday, citing unspecified intelligence reports. The reports suggested the attacks would be carried out in retaliation for the life sentence given this month to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a Muslim cleric convicted of plotting attacks against bridges and other landmarks in New York. However, sources told CNN that the U.S. has no intelligence showing "any direct indication of a specific plan to attack U.S. troops."

    Tighter security took effect Wednesday at NATO installations in Bosnia, including the Tuzla headquarters for U.S. troops, following these reports. U.S. troops also have been warned to be on the lookout for a U.S. citizen with close links to such groups. The command of the NATO-led peace mission said it had distributed leaflets to guards and security officers alerting them about a man known as Kevin or Cleven Holt. He's also identified as Isa Abdullah Ali. The pamphlet described Holt as an African- American in his 30s "who has expressed sympathies for extremist causes."

    A senior NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the alert was raised Tuesday after Holt attempted to enter a NATO compound in Bosnia in the previous 24 hours. The compound was not identified, and no further information on Holt was released. Even before the current warnings, sources said U.S. troops were on a high state of alert against possible terrorist attacks.

    [05] Sarajevo To Get Civilian Flights In March (ONASA)

    January 16, 1996
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Civilian flights are supposed to resume at the Sarajevo airport in March after being suspended at the beginning of the war in 1992, the Sarajevo daily Vecernje Novine wrote Tuesday.

    According to unofficial sources quoted by the daily, Yugoslav Air Transport (JAT) plans to establish a line between Sarajevo and Belgrade.

    The airport was used during the war by the United Nations for humanitarian and military flights.

    [06] ARMIES PULL BACK, BUT PRISONER EXCHANGE `A MESS.'

    Armies in Bosnia pulled back their soldiers and heavy weapons from a 4-kilometer-wide buffer zone by Jan. 19, as required under the Dayton peace accords, NATO officials say. Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Walker, NATO's commander of ground troops in Bosnia, reported 95% compliance by the deadline and only about 35 pieces of heavy weaponry still inside the zone.

    "The parties have shown a spirit of compliance and cooperation we had only dreamed of and not fully expected," said Leighton Smith, NATO's overall military commander in Bosnia.

    Some of the weapons may not be movable; if not, they could be blown up in place, according to NATO officials. A NATO spokesman said Tuesday that a dozen illegal heavy weapons were found inside the zone, and would be destroyed if not withdrawn.

    However, all prisoners were not released by the 19th, as mandated in the Dayton agreement. "It's a mess," Pierre Gauthier of the International Red Cross told AP. "We are very disheartened."

    The Bosnian government charges that Serbs have not accounted for 3,500 people who once appeared on Red Cross lists but have since "disappeared." In addition, Bosnian officials demanded Serb nationalists account for more than 21,000 other missing Bosnians before the Bosnian government will free all its detainees. Bosnian officials believe at least 1,000 Bosnian citizens are being held captive for forced labor in secret camps.

    "It is humanely impossible, immoral to forget about these few thousand," Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey told a Sarajevo news conference, according to Reuters.

    About 225 prisoners were released last Friday, fewer than the Red Cross expected.

    Richard Holbrooke, the key U.S. negotiator in the Balkans, said that while he sympathizes with the Bosnian government position, "a careful reading of Dayton makes it clear they (POWs and missing people) are not linked issues."

    Holbrooke's boss, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, was decidedly less sympathetic, threatening to cut off reconstruction aid and military training for the Bosnian federation unless the government releases all its Serb prisoners. Bosnian government officials Tuesday pledged to release more POWs.

    [07] U.S. HUMAN-RIGHTS ENVOY SEES `CLEAR EVIDENCE' OF MASSIVE WAR CRIMES DURIN SREBRENICA VISIT.

    There is "overwhelming evidence" of "horrible crimes against humanity" at sites near Srebrenica, according to John Shattuck, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights.

    Shattuck and two staff members from the UN war-crimes tribunal in the Hague visited the region Sunday, marking the first time Serb nationalists have allowed Western officials near the site. About 7,000 Muslim men and boys, many of them unarmed, were slaughtered after Serb forces overran the supposed "UN- protected safe area" last summer.

    The officials examined a warehouse in Kravica, where Bosnian survivors say about 2,000 men were herded inside; the building was then bombarded with grenades. Most of those who survived that attack were shot. Victims' bodies are believed buried in a mass grave in nearby Glogova.

    The warehouse walls "were pock-marked by bullets and what looked like grenade blasts," writes Chris Hedges in the NY Times. "The interior was covered with bullet holes, clearly made by automatic weapons fired inside the building. The walls were smeared and splattered with blood. ... In a nearby stream bits of clothing lay in crumpled piles among the thickets and trees."

    "It is far more chilling to see this in reality than I was prepared for," Shattuck told reporters. He said that physical evidence at that site and others corroborated survivors' eyewitness accounts of atrocities.

    The group visited a soccer field, where about 4,000 men were held prisoner before they were slaughtered, survivors said.

    "Shattuck also toured Nova Kasaba, another reputed mass grave, and Konjevic Polje, where witnesses say 200 people were shot as they tried to flee along the road," AP reports.

    "In the town of Karakaj, Shattuck said his team looked at a school house and gymnasium where Muslims were reportedly held before being taken out in groups of 30 and shot before open pits."

    One survivor, Mesa Smajlovic, said he saw "the heads, legs and hands of at least 150 people poking up from freshly dug soil during his escape from Srebrenica," AP reports. "At another nearby site, he said he saw dozens of scattered corpses. `Some of them were slaughtered, some were hanging, some were lying naked in pools of blood, their clothes and belongings scattered all around,' Smajlovic told the Associated Press."

    Srebrenica was 80% Muslim before the war. There are no Muslims left there now, and the town is being repopulated with Serbs. Serb officials deny that war crimes took place there.

    "But Milan Markovic, a Serb native of Srebrenica who helped Serb forces overrun the town in July, acknowledges otherwise," the Christian Science Monitor reports.

    "`Look at those hills. They used to be covered with trees, but the Muslims cut the down,' he says, pointing to surrounding slopes denuded of firewood during three winters of siege. `They ruined this town. It used to be pretty. So, we killed them, we killed them all.'"

    Bosnian Serb nationalist leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic have been indicted on war-crimes charges for ordering the massacre of Srebrenica civilians..

    "Srebrenica was the worst crime against humanity committed in Europe since 1945, and we are going to pursue it," Holbrooke said Tuesday in Jerusalem, AP reports.

    Meanwhile, a reporter from the London Daily Telegraph told the BBC that journalists discovered another mass-grave site in Brcko, less than 100 yards from a main road being traveled almost daily by U.S. troops.

    And the Guardian newspaper in Britain reports that about 800 Bosnians from the fallen "safe havens" of Srebrenica and Zepa are being held prisoner at two secret camps within Serbia under deplorable conditions.

    [08] SREBRENICA SURVIVORS STILL HUNGRY.

    About 2,500 Srebrenica survivors have taken refuge in Vozuca, a village near Tuzla. And, after being starved under Serb siege throughout most of the war, they say they are still going hungry. Last Monday, in protest, they blocked a main road through Vozuca to Tuzla for three hours.

    "I know it is not good thing to block a road, but we had no other choice," former Srebrenica resident Mujo Tuzlic told AP. "We have to draw attention to our problems. We are hungry." Their village also has no medical facilities, running water, or reliable electricity.

    The refugees are caught between two government districts, neither of which wants the responsibility of caring for them, according to AP.

    [09] CONFUSION OVER IFOR WAR-CRIMES ROLE.

    Western officials sent out conflicting signals this week over the role IFOR will play in protecting war- crimes investigators in Bosnia, as well as guarding mass-grave sites from tampering.

    On Monday, the tribunal's chief prosecutor and NATO's commander in Bosnia issued a joint statement that IFOR will provide "appropriate assistance, at the appropriate time, to ensure area security for tribunal teams." The "carefully worded statement" means it is unlikely NATO troops will guard specific sites, or provide personal escorts for investigators, according to BBC. Still, war- crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone said tribunal investigators will visit mass-grave sites in Bosnia very soon, with excavation work expected to begin in the spring.

    The tribunal also announced it will begin public hearings to outline evidence against some war-crimes suspects, as a way to pressure governments to hand over indicted war criminals.

    [10] MEETING WITH MILOSEVIC.

    On Monday, Shattuck traveled to Belgrade, where he reportedly told Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic he saw "very clear evidence" that Bosnian Serb troops massacred thousands of Muslim men. Shattuck said Milosevic agreed to cooperate with war-crimes investigators, and to push Serb nationalists in Bosnia to release all prisoners.

    Officials from the war-crimes tribunal reportedly have threatened to seek reimposition of sanctions on Serbia if Milosevic does not begin cooperating with its work, as required under the Dayton accords.

    Meanwhile, Serbian ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj, head of one of the most brutal paramilitary units that fought in Bosnia and now an opposition figure in Serbia, reportedly offered to testify against Milosevic in the Hague. Seselj says he has evidence that Bosnian war crimes were planned by Milosevic, and that his government is paying Serb generals fighting in Bosnia. Western media reports have made similar charges.

    [11] CROATS CONTINUE TO BLOCK MOSTAR REUNIFICATION.

    Another deadline came and went in Mostar last Sunday, this time for a joint police force and new district boundaries for the city's reunification.

    The European Union, charged with administering the city, has been powerless so far to reunite the once ethnically-mixed city. EU officials blame most of the problems on Croat nationalists, who still want an ethnically pure portion of Mostar as the capital of a Croatian mini-state on Bosnian territory. Muslims want the city's six new districts to be ethnically mixed.

    Croats conducted a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing during a Muslim- Croat war in 1993, and Muslims are still mostly confined to a ghetto on the east bank of the Neretva River. Because Croats are supposed to be allied with Bosnia in a federation, NATO was given no role to enforce relations between them.

    EU officials say part of the problem is powerful criminal gangs earning large sums of money by maintaining the status quo. "There's no better place for criminals to make big business than in a divided city," Col. Helmut Janiesch, head of an EU police force in Mostar, told Reuters.

    The head of police on the Croat side of the city, Zdravko Soldo, told the EU he opposes a joint force and would refuse to wear its uniform. A Croatian militia brigade in the city, meanwhile, wears swastikas, a EU official told Reuters.

    EU officials say there are links between the Bosnian Croat police and the criminal gangs, whose members were involved in expelling Muslims from the city's west side and seizing their property. Some EU officials say the only solution is for the international community to pressure Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to bring Croat extremists in Bosnia into line.

    One hundred policemen from Croatia will be sent to Mostar to work on both sides of the divided city, officials announced. It is unclear how this will help reunite the city and prevent the Croatian nationalist dream of annexing it to Croatia.

    EU officials say that the Jan. 28 deadline for full freedom of movement between the two sides of the city must still be met, according to CNN.

    Bosnian war-crimes investigators, meanwhile, are trying to find out if Croat extremists are to blame for the disappearance of 500 Muslims in Vitez and Zepce in 1993. A Croatian militia leader, Mladen Naletilic, has threatened violence to prevent Croats from being prosecuted for war crimes, according to AP.

    [12] BETTER NEWS ELSEWHERE.

    "UN aid officials said however that the situation was more promising in central and western Bosnia where Muslim refugees had returned to their homes in Croat-dominated Jajce and Glamoc," according to Reuters. "Croat families had gone back to mainly Muslim Travnik."

    [13] MURATOVIC TO HEAD NEW BOSNIAN FEDERATION GOVERNMENT; SILAJDZIC TO STEP DOWN.

    Hasan Muratovic, a 55-year-old former businessman and university professor, has been named to form the Bosnian federation's new central government. He is expected to become its new prime minister.

    Currently a "minister without portfolio," Muratovic has been asked to handle some of the government's most difficult tasks, from negotiating with Serb nationalists to dealing with UN and NATO officials.

    The move comes after a dispute between current Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic and Bosnia's ruling Party of Democratic Action over the number of ministers in the new government.

    [14] NATO SEIZES CONTROL OF KEY SARAJEVO UTILITIES. French NATO troops last

    Tuesday took control of four key water, gas, and electricity stations in Serb- occupied districts of Sarajevo, heading off possible sabotage before those districts are turned back to Bosnian government control. The 150 French troops, with 30 armored personnel carriers and 10 tanks, met no resistance, AP reports.

    A spokesman for Carl Bildt, the international community's top civilian official in Bosnia, said Serb officials have boycotted meetings on repairing the city's infrastructure and setting up a mixed police force.

    Serbs cut off utilities to the besieged city throughout the war, leaving residents to struggle for months at a time with no electricity, heat, or running water. (There is currently tightly-rationed electricity in Sarajevo, water in some places for a few hours every few days, and natural gas for heat every second day.)

    Under the Dayton agreement, Serb militia are to leave several occupied districts of the city by Feb. 3.

    [15] MORE THREATS OF MASS EXODUS.

    Thousands of Serbs in occupied suburbs of Sarajevo will leave by Jan. 31 rather than live in a reunited city under Bosnian-government control, Bozidar Skobic, head of the Association of Serb Refugees from Central Bosnia, told Reuters Monday. Many of those Serbs are living in the apartments of Muslims and Croats who were killed or expelled from their homes by Serb extremists.

    "Roads are clogged for miles with trucks and cars of every size and description loaded down with furniture and belongings, heading deeper into Serb-held territory," AP reports. Many fear retribution from the victims of the Serbs' brutal siege of the city, even while denying the shelling and sniping attacks on civilians took place.

    Thousands of other Serbs remained in Bosnian-controlled parts of Sarajevo throughout the war, some serving with the Bosnian army or police to fight for a multi-ethnic republic. Intermarriage among Serbs, Croats, and Muslims there is estimated to be as high as 40 percent.

    [16] SHAME AND REGRET.

    While Western media attention focuses on the bitter defiance of Serb nationalists in occupied Sarajevo, Serbs elsewhere are beginning to express regret for crimes committed in their name, according to Western media reports.

    In Ljubinje, for example, a mixed town before the war, "many Serbs say they are ashamed of what they have done," the NY Times reports. "Following people they now call extremists, they forced their Croatian and Muslim neighbors to flee, and they fought in a war that has left them impoverished, isolated and vilified. They are not sure how they will recover, and many want no part of the only thing they feel they gained: a semi-autonomous country within Bosnia known as the Serbian republic."

    "I don't remember what we were trying to do with this war, and now I don't care," Zeljko Berberovic, who fought in the Bosnian Army, told the Times. "I got out alive, and now the only thing I want is to leave the Serbian republic. I'll go almost anywhere else."

    Said another soldier: "Our town suffered for something that is worthless."

    [17] AND WEARINESS WITH WAR.

    Throughout Bosnia, the Times reports, people are sick of the war.

    "It is hard to convey the depth of the war weariness in Bosnia," writes correspondent Raymond Bonner. "Not just from the residents of besieged Sarajevo, or the families that have been torn apart, but also from hardened soldiers.....Since the Dayton accord was signed, phrases like `four years is enough, `we must have peace' and `I just want to go home' have been heard over and over again from soldiers on all sides."

    [18] Kasagic Visited Sarajevo

    January 24, 1996
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The prime minister of the self-declared Serb republic, Rajko Kasagic, arrived Wednesday in Sarajevo for the first such high-level visit since the start of the war. Karagic is meeting with outgoing Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic and prime minister-designate Hasan Muratovic as well as Carl Bildt, the high representative responsible for civilian aspects of the peace agreement. Bosnian Serb radio says the meeting will focus on the stalled release of prisoners and the fate of missing people. The Bosnian government pledged to release its POWs and stick to the rest of the peace plan after American officials threatened to cut off military training and arms sales.

    Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic recently said rump Yugoslavia's Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic is supposed to visit Sarajevo, not specifying when.

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