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BosNet Digest V5 #50 / Jan. 31, 1996

From: Nermin Zukic <n6zukic@SMS.BUSINESS.UWO.CA>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


CONTENTS

  • [01] Opinion Peace Through Justice

  • [02] Dayton Evidence Witheld

  • [03] Update Steps Forward, and Back

  • [04] NATO TROOPS CLEAR BARRIERS FROM SARAJEVO-GRBAVICA BRIDGE.

  • [05] HARASSMENT CONTINUES.

  • [06] MINES, UNEXPLODED GRENADES, CLAIM MORE VICTIMS.

  • [07] CIVILIAN CASUALTIES MOUNT.

  • [08] SNIPER INCIDENT TIGHTENS NATO SECURITY.

  • [09] MOST REGISTERED PRISONERS RELEASED.

  • [10] SREBRENICA SURVIVORS DEMONSTRATE.

  • [11] NEW PRIME MINISTER NAMED; SILAJDZIC EXPELLED FROM PARTY.

  • [12] POLITICAL MEETINGS BEGIN ACROSS FRONT LINES.

  • [13] SMITH OPTIMISTIC.

  • [14] `BEYOND THE GRAVES.'

  • [15] TRIBUNAL CHIEF EXPECTED TO LEAVE.

  • [16] OMARSKA TO REOPEN FOR MINING?

  • [17] `SECRET NETWORK' OF SERBS HELPED MUSLIM VICTIMS.

  • [18] ARSONISTS DESTROY REFUGEE CAMP.

  • [19] SARAJEVANS STILL WITHOUT DAILY HEAT.

  • [20] COMMUNICATIONS UPDATE.

  • [21] CIVILIAN FLIGHTS TO SARAJEVO?

  • [22] CORRECTION.


  • [01] Opinion Peace Through Justice

    Tribunal, January/February issue - part 1 by Zoran Pajic

    In wars, it is commonplace that those seen as national heroes by one side, have also perpetrated the most despicable inhumane acts and are vilified as war criminals by the other side. By accepting certain universal principles of justice and humanity applicable in times of war and establishing international jurisdiction for war crimes, the nations of the world have sought to make it difficult for a war criminal and a hero to be embodied in the same person.Yet the international peace process for the former Yugoslavia and the indictments of some of the political leaders have presented the international community with a dilemma: is there a contradiction between the two processes? Does one preclude a positive outcome for the other? In short, are peace and justice incompatible? There are concerns that criminal prosecution may risk undermining the peace process and destabilising any settlement. Despite the consistent denial by political leaders, especially in the US, the suspicion remains that a "deal" has been, or might still, be cut. Hence the consistent public pressure Chief Prosecutor Richard Goldstone, of the International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, has been compelled to raise, to ensure that no amnesties are granted at the negotiating table.Yet the reverse concern may be even more compelling. Leaving crimes unpunished risks sealing the grievances of victimised parties and providing the fuel for future conflict. This is a broad social question. Even more immediately and pragmatically, it is difficult to envisage a lasting peace based on the signatures of alleged war criminals. Regimes that have planned and prosecuted the war, political leaders whose support is based on extremist politics and militarist policies, cannot be expected to change overnight. Conflict has become inherent in their programmes, and may last as long as they remain in power.Morally unacceptable, legally impermissible, it thus may also be politically unworkable not to prosecute alleged war criminals. In this view, it becomes evident that there is no contradiction between indictments and negotiations. Timely indictments and well-established cases against political leaders who committed atrocities are very likely to exclude them from taking part in any serious attempt to search for a lasting peaceful solution in the region. Negotiations, and real prospects for a lasting resolution to the conflict, are strengthened. Peace and justice can, indeed must, go hand in hand.This has been the lesson of the Tribunal's deliberate strategy. In spite of all the scepticism and enormous obstacles, its work has provided a turning point in the conflict. The indictments against Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic disqualified them from representing Republika Srpska at the Dayton talks. There is no reason not to anticipate a similar fate for indicted Bosnian Croat leader Dario Kordic, vice-president of Herzeg-Bosnia, removing him from international negotiations and thus opening the path to a viable settlement, for example, for the city of Mostar. This strategy is relatively easy to apply on the international level for two reasons. The Rule 61 procedure, whereby a judicial panel of the Tribunal confirms indictments when the accused cannot be brought to court, opens the way for the issuing of international arrest warrants. Evidently, the Tribunal intends to pursue this strategy aggressively, which will result, where accused are not apprehended, in confining them to their own backyards. Yet the Tribunal raises the question not only of a leader's ability to travel but of his or her political legitimacy. The external body which is playing the role of peace broker, be it the European Union, United Nations or United States, will ultimately think twice before rolling out the red carpet for an alleged war criminal.In short, not a single conviction has been achieved, yet the Tribunal has already contributed to peace in the Balkans. It is worth noting that for several years, international, especially European, negotiators rejected the arguments of civic activists from the Balkans that the peace process itself was validating the warlords and thus in itself sustaining conflict. 'We must make the peace with the men who made the war,' came the condescending reply, as yet another round of fruitless talks with the extremists began. To an extent, this argument is true. But the Tribunal has shown that there is, and thus always was, an alternative approach. Indeed, if it is possible to invalidate war criminals, the question re-emerges what possibilities could there be for validating alternative political leaders and fresh (and non-nationalist) political options?It remains a more complex road, short of arrest and conviction, for the Tribunal, and other processes, to achieve an analogous result internally, namely discrediting the war criminals before the populations within the region. The people in Republika Srpska, for example, may begin to wonder why their president is kept away from the very talks deciding their future. It is doubtless a long road from this point to the stage where his legitimacy to rule in the country is seriously challenged. But at least that path is now open, thanks largely to the processes and the principles launched by the Tribunal. Zoran Pajic, a trustee of IWPR, is a senior research fellow at King's College, London.

    [02] Dayton Evidence Witheld

    by Andreas Zumach

    Have the Dayton accords on Bosnia strengthened the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague? Or will there be even less international attention and support for efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the war crimes in the former Yugoslavia? Tribunal President Judge Antonio Cassese and Chief Prosecutor Richard Goldstone decided to signal optimism. In a joint statement on November 24, three days after the initiating of the Dayton accords, they declared: "This agreement promises that those who have committed crimes which threaten international peace and security -genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes-will be brought to justice... We trust that the agreement will be fully and rigorously implemented by all the parties concerned; that all parties will strictly fulfil their obligations to arrest and surrender persons indicted by the Tribunal, and that NATO forces as well as the competent national authorities will render appropriate assistance to the Tribunal officials to enable them to carry out their mission."But the agreement only contains a general commitment by the parties "to fully cooperate" with the Tribunal. The more specific obligation to arrest indicted persons and transfer them to the Tribunal, which Bosnia's president Alija Izetbegovic had requested, was vigorously rejected by his counterparts, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman. In the last days of the Dayton negotiations the US-mediators and their colleagues from the other four contact group countries (Russia, Great Britain, France and Germany) forced Izetbegovic to withdraw his request. Since the conclusion of the Dayton negotiations, indications increased that the major powers have put the issue of justice on the back burner at least for the time being-out of concern that too active a pursuit of the Tribunal's task could disturb the implementation of other parts of the Dayton agreement, especially the military disengagement and the withdrawal of troops and weapons which should be concluded by April 18. The great powers' support for the Tribunal has always been patchy. Recently, Justice Goldstone had to expressly demand the cooperation of the American authorities in sharing their intelligence reports with the Tribunal. He was contemplating sending similar letters to France and Germany.In June and early July, the US intelligence services obtained information about Serb preparations for the attack against Srebrenica and about the massacre of Muslim civilians that followed. This information was obtained by intercepting telephone communications between the Serbian Army Chief of Staff, General Momcilo Perisic, and Bosnian Serb military leader, General Ratko Mladic, and by aerial photography. Reportedly, it also contains photographs of mass graves and Muslim men awaiting execution. After some controversy, the US has agreed to share the intelligence.The governments of Germany and France, whose intelligence services possess similar information deny any knowledge and are refusing full cooperation with Goldstone. A German army general, however, claims that he had received the information about Srebrenica "through the bilateral information exchange between the USA and Germany". The general was briefed by the Bundesnnachrichtendienst (BND), the German intelligence service in Pullach, near Munich. According to the general, the US shares "90 per cent of all information obtained in ex-Yugoslavia through US national intelligence services with Germany. This is more than any other ally receives, including France and Great Britain, and far more than what is sent to NATO headquarters." This account was confirmed by several sources in the BND. On a global scale Britain is Washington's most important partner for intelligence exchange, with the exception of data from the former Yugoslavia. The BND sources say that US German cooperation intensified after Washington reduced intelligence cooperation with British and French services in September 1994 because London and Paris had accused the CIA of interference in Bosnia in support of the Sarajevo Government. BND's highly sophisticated installations in the Austrian Alps north of Slovenia can survey telecommunications in the entire former Yugoslavia, and in other parts of South-Eastern Europe. According to some experts, thanks to close cooperation with the Austrians, the BND is "technically in an even better position than the CIA" to obtain data from the former Yugoslavia. These experts are convinced that the BND intercepted the telephone communications between Generals Perisic and Mladic, independently of the US services. According to sources in the BND, since the beginning of the war in 1991 the service has collected a lot of data that may be relevant to the war crimes Tribunal. So far, the German government has not passed any information collected by the BND to the Tribunal. According to French intelligence officers, French intelligence services also intercepted the telephone conversations between the two Serb generals in the weeks before the conquest of Srebrenica. The information was given to Lieut.-Gen. Bernard Janvier in Zagreb, but only in his capacity as a French military officer, not in his role as supreme commander of the UN forces in the former Yugoslavia. It seems that the new International Implementation Force (IFOR) will be no more eager to look under stones than its predecessor, UNPROFOR. In drafting UN Security Council's resolution 1031 of December 15, 1995, authorising IFOR, the major powers again avoided the issue of the arrest of indicted persons. The resolution only repeats the general wording of the Dayton accords and "recognises that the parties have authorised IFOR to take actions required, including the use of necessary force, to ensure compliance with the Peace Agreement." This leaves a lot of room for interpretation and the final decisions to the IFOR commanders on the ground. During a speech in Geneva in early December, chief prosecutor Goldstone pointed out that the UN Security Council's November 22 resolution on the suspension of the economic sanctions against Serbia/Montenegro provides for the sanctions to be reimposed. Should either Belgrade or Pale not comply with the Dayton provisions, the High Commissioner or the IFOR Commander, through the Secretary General have the power to inform the Security Council about it, and in five days sanctions must be reinstated without a Security Council vote. The Security Council would, however, have to vote if it wanted to oppose the reinstitution. The vaguely formulated provision leaves enough discretionary powers for those who decide. Its relevance for the Tribunal remains to be seen. So far, Goldstone declared, Belgrade had "refused any cooperation with the Tribunal even in cases of Serb victimisation" by Muslims or Croats.In the meantime, Goldstone announced that, should Belgrade continue its refusal to cooperate he would officially inform the Security Council. Then, according to the provisions in the November 22 resolution, the Security Council should act. Whether and when the Chief Prosecutor and then the Security council will act on their announcements and decisions remains to be seen. Andreas Zumach is UN correspondent for Die Tageszeitung (Berlin).

    [03] Update Steps Forward, and Back

    by Vanessa Vasic-Janekovic

    With the signing of the Dayton accords, it might seem natural to expect Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The agreement specifically requests these countries to comply with "any order or request" by the Tribunal. Such cooperation is essential if another Dayton condition, the right of refugees and displaced persons to return, has any chance. So far, there has been little or no compliance. On December 8, shortly before the signatures were put on paper in Paris, Richard Goldstone, the Chief Prosecutor, was compelled to release the second suspect the Tribunal could have had stand trial. A Bosnian Muslim, the suspect was a member of the Croat forces in Bosnia, the Croatian Defence Council (HVO); his crime was alleged atrocities against Serbs. Despite repeated requests by Goldstone's office to Belgrade for information corroborating the identities of the victims, Serbian authorities refused to provide any assistance, and the Tribunal could no longer have him detained. A month before, however, some cooperation came from Serbia, but not from the authorities. The Association of Camp Detainees have visited the Tribunal and submitted their evidence of alleged atrocities committed against Serbs in Croatian and Bosnian prisons and camps. Meanwhile, the Tribunal's third probable defendant, Nikola J., a Bosnian Serb, was arrested in Dusseldorf on December 19 and is expected to be transferred to The Hague. The Tribunal's role was much debated during the three weeks of talks in Dayton. In Croatia, it was accused of interfering with the peace process, following the indictment of the six Bosnian Croats. Dario Kordic, vice president of Herceg-Bosnia and then president of the Bosnian branch of the Croatian Democratic Union (he recently resigned from the HDZ post), and Tihomir Blaskic, former HVO commander, were charged with war crimes following investigation into the Lasva River Valley events, which included massacres of Muslim civilians.Although both suspects are Bosnian citizens, the Tribunal has to communicate with Croatian authorities. The response was less than helpful. A day after the charges were made public, President Franjo Tudjman himself moved Blaskic from the HVO to the Croatian Army, thus clearly associating himself with the war criminal. Croatian Defence Minister Gojko Susak claimed the two suspects "are still the greatest sons of the Croatian nation." It appears that Tudjman's office has hired the defence counsel for these and four of the seven other Croats so far accused by the Tribunal. Zvonimir Hodak, currently the most sought after Croatian attorney, says he has in principal accepted an offer from the president's office. The other four are Pero Skopljak (deputy minister in the Herzeg-Bosnian administration), Ivan Santic (Mayor of Vitez), Mario Cerkez (HVO brigade commander) and Zlatko Aleksovski (former commander of the Kaonik and Heliodrom camps).Meanwhile, Croatia has started proceedings against over 900 people, for war crimes and armed rebellion. The trials have been marked by accusations of mistreatment in Croatian prisons, and convictions without sufficient evidence. At the same time, Ivica Rajic, the first Bosnian Croat to have been indicted by the Tribunal, was released, for "lack of evidence." Rajic was being tried in Mostar for killing fellow HVO soldiers, and was released on December 5 by the Herceg-Bosnian authorities. The remainder of the Hague's 52 indictments thus far are all against Serbs, both Bosnian and Serbian citizens. Most significantly, on November 7, Justice Goldstone indicted three officers of the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) for the mass execution of wounded soldiers and civilians following the fall of Vukovar in 1991 (also referred to as the Ovcara case). Two of the three accused, Gen. Mile Mrksic and Lieutenant Col. Veselin Sljivancanin, are currently serving officers of the Army of Yugoslavia (VJ). This indictment could potentially lead to the top brass of the JNA and/or of today's VJ, and ultimately even to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.The charge sheet against Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic was amended to include direct responsibility for genocide, for the massacre after the fall of Srebrenica. This was made public on November 16, two days after Goldstone reiterated his stance that no amnesties should be offered in exchange for a peace deal. "Certainly, if a permanent member of the Security Council or the international community was an active party to that, then all of us at the Tribunal would question whether it was worthwhile pursuing the work," he warned, in what was seen as a resignation threat.In the meantime, the court's first trial, of Bosnian Serb Dusko Tadic, was postponed until March 1996. The defence requested the delay because they had been unable to collect evidence and find witnesses. Counsel Michail Wladimiroff, leader of the team, went to Banja Luka in August to find potential witnesses. He claims that most either could not travel because they were under military obligation, or because they had no travel documents. Others, such as camp guards, would not travel, for fear of being indicted themselves. Claiming no cooperation from the Banja Luka authorities, he then called off his trip early because of NATO air strikes.Although lacking the tension of a trial, the Rule 61 hearings in the case against Dragan Nikolic, also a Bosnian Serb, in early October, were an emotional and significant event. Over five days, accounts of atrocities were given by ordinary people, survivors of the war. The judges confirmed the indictment, and have also recommended that the prosecutor amend the indictment to include charges of rape and sexual assault as well as ethnic cleansing and genocide. It is up to the prosecutor to decide whether he will amend the charges, but an international arrest warrant has been issued. Meanwhile, for much of the autumn, the UN's budgetary crisis forced the Tribunal to cut travel for its staff, seriously hampering the investigations and exhumations. Travel has now resumed, but finance is lacking for forensic investigations. However, the UN has agreed to transfer some spending power directly to the Tribunal. Finally, testifying to the prosecutor's intention to try all war criminals, reports from Dayton suggested that there may even be an indictment against the Bosnian Army Commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric. At the Dayton follow-up conference on reconstruction held in Brussels on December 21, European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Hans van den Broek announced that any aid for Republika Srpska will be cut off if its leadership refuses to hand over Karadzic and Mladic. Shortly after, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel repeated the warning in his statement on January 1, but included all the "protagonists" of the war in Balkans. Those saying that the prosecutor is just a pawn in the international game may be proved wrong, since the link between the peace process and the Tribunal has proved to be very different from what many feared. In a complex and sensitive process, the court continues to move forward. Vanessa Vasic Janekovic is coordinator of IWPR's War Crimes Tribunal Monitoring Project.

    [04] NATO TROOPS CLEAR BARRIERS FROM SARAJEVO-GRBAVICA BRIDGE.

    "Sarajevo residents on both sides of the former front line awoke to a startling scene Wednesday," AP reports. "The Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity, a no- man's land just a day before, was once again a link over the Miljacka river. Gone were the barriers that had blocked the view from snipers. "Serbs on the southern side of the bridge could watch the streetcars hurtling by in the government-held sector. Muslims looking south saw the broad avenue leading into the Grbavica neighborhood."

    "It's so wonderful," Maja Davic, a woman on the Serb-held side of the river, told AP. "This is a symbol of the normal life we can live again."

    A taxi driver across the river smiled broadly and said simply: "I've waited years for this."

    However, police were still refusing to allow anyone except those on officially approved lists to cross the bridge, saying their orders hadn't yet been changed.

    [05] HARASSMENT CONTINUES.

    But the N.Y. Times charges that NATO troops have currently "turned a blind eye toward growing harassment of Muslim and Croatian civilians" in Grbavica. NATO officials say such matters are the responsibility of civilian police -- although there are only 300 such unarmed UN police throughout the country.

    UN spokesman Kris Janowski confirmed that some elderly Croats and Muslims in Grbavica are being robbed and verbally abused.

    Under the Dayton peace plan, Serb military forces must leave Grbavica, Ilidza, and several other districts of Sarajevo by Feb. 3. Thousands of Serb civilians in those areas have also begun leaving for Serb-occupied territories elsewhere, Western media report. Many of those leaving are Serb refugees from other parts of Bosnia, who took over the apartments of Muslims and Croats expelled by Serb extremists in Sarajevo.

    [06] MINES, UNEXPLODED GRENADES, CLAIM MORE VICTIMS.

    As both NATO soldiers and Bosnian civilians venture into territories that were off- limits during four years of fierce battles, landmines and unexploded grenades are claiming added victims.

    Three British soldiers died Sunday when their armored vehicle hit a mine near Gornji Vakuf in northwest Bosnia, in an area thought to be free of the deadly devices. In Sarajevo, two Portuguese and an Italian soldier died when one brought an unexploded grenade back to his barracks. Another peacekeeper, from Sweden, died when his armored vehicle skidded off a road.

    [07] CIVILIAN CASUALTIES MOUNT.

    Sarajevans who survived four years of shelling and sniping are now, like IFOR soldiers, also falling victim to "peacetime" explosives. A middle-aged man was killed after stepping on a mine in the city's Mojmilo Brdo area, morgue attendants told Reuters. And, a mine blew off part of 76-year-old Milan Bator's leg as he walked his dog in Nahorevo, north of the city center.

    Pero Jakic suffered serious leg wounds when trying to visit his destroyed home in Stup along the city's front lines. "I stepped on a mine in my garden," he told reporters, according to Reuters. "I knew there were mines. There is even an unexploded shell in my garden. ... I thought I would be able to see them all." His friend Tomislav Drljepan was wounded by a second explosion when he tried to run to Jakic's aid.

    And, four teenagers were injured in Dobrinja while investigating an unexploded rifle grenade. One, 15-year-old Kemal Kapetanovic, had his right hand, left foot and lower right leg amputated.

    "Youths, especially boys, have been drawn irresistibly by the prospect of wandering through former front lines over which their brothers, fathers and uncles fought, despite warnings of the dangers," Reuters notes. There are millions of mines across Bosnia; only about 30% of them have been identified and marked.

    [08] SNIPER INCIDENT TIGHTENS NATO SECURITY.

    An American soldier was grazed in the neck by a sniper's bullet in Serb-occupied Ilidza Sunday, but escaped serious injury. The incident prompted NATO to strictly enforce security regulations for its soldiers, including traveling only in pairs with at least one man armed, and wearing flack jackets and helmets whenever traveling in vehicles.

    "This is not a very great way to inspire confidence in the local population," one French officer complained to Reuters. A NATO spokesman answered that they don't want to present disgruntled snipers with a "soft target."

    On Wednesday, NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Rayner said sniping incidents against NATO forces had increased over the past week in Serb- occupied Ilidza. Two British vehicles crossing a bridge in the center of Ilidza were hit by small-arms fire; one soldier was wounded in the wrist. In addition, NATO soldiers say their Ilidza quarters have been hit by gunfire. NATO officials responded by meeting Serb civilian leaders.

    [09] MOST REGISTERED PRISONERS RELEASED.

    About a week after a deadline set by the Dayton accords, most prisoners registered with the Red Cross have been released, the aid organization said. Some are being held on suspicion of war crimes; about 30 others still on Red Cross lists have yet to be freed.

    The Bosnian government charges that Serbs are still holding more than 1,000 people for forced labor; and also demands an accounting for over 20,000 others still missing.

    Several Bosnians released from Serb-run camps last week told reporters that friends who had been imprisoned with them are still being held, and are not on any Red Cross list. "When the Red Cross inspectors came, the Serbs moved the Muslim prisoners from one part of the prison to another so the inspectors would never see how many were being held," one freed prisoner told the NY Times.

    The Red Cross, meanwhile, accused the Bosnian government of denying its workers access to a military prison in Tuzla.

    Some of those freed were civilians, including a young couple and their 16-month-old child held by Serb nationalists. The baby had never been outside of prison until this week.

    [10] SREBRENICA SURVIVORS DEMONSTRATE.

    Anguished Srebrenica survivors whose loved ones are still missing stormed a Red Cross office in Tuzla Monday, demanding an accounting of the thousands of men who "disappeared" after Serb nationalists overran the enclave last summer.

    Most are believed to have been murdered by Serb forces -- some rounded up and executed, others ambushed while trying to flee into the woods. Protesters said it is agonizing not knowing whether their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons are alive or dead. All were supposed to be under UN protection when Serbs captured the "safe haven" and slaughtered thousands of people there.

    "Nobody wanted to help us before and nobody wants to help us now," Suhreta Mujic, 48, told AP. She lost her brother, husband and two sons in Srebrenica. "Everyboody is guilty, foreigners as well as locals." "We understand their anguish -- it's not only us they're fed up with, they're fed up with the whole world and we're the target of it,'' a Red Cross spokesman said.

    The ICRC has a list of 8,000 men missing from Srebrenica, but has only been able to account for 200. Nevertheless, the ICRC along with Western leaders pressured the Bosnian government to give up all its Serb prisoners, arguing that POWs and missing persons are two separate issues.

    [11] NEW PRIME MINISTER NAMED; SILAJDZIC EXPELLED FROM PARTY.

    The Bosnian parliament formally named Hasan Muratovic as prime minister of the new Bosnian central government, which is to oversee foreign affairs, international trade, and justice issues for the entire Bosnian nation. Representatives from the Serb republic within Bosnia are supposed to have about one-third of the government's ministerial posts following elections in September.

    On Wednesday, Izudin Kapetanovic, an electrical engineer from Tuzla, was named prime minister for the Bosnian-Croat federation. That government will handle internal affairs for 51% of the country (the "Republika Sprska" comprises the nation's other entity). Kapetanovic's government includes 15 ministers: seven Muslims, six Croats, and a Serb.

    "We must revive the economy and have an urgent program to employ demobilized soldiers," Kapetanovic told parliament.

    Haris Silajdzic, Bosnia's popular prime minister during much of the war, was formally expelled from the country's ruling party, after months of disputes. He is expected to form another political party.

    [12] POLITICAL MEETINGS BEGIN ACROSS FRONT LINES.

    Nikola Koljevic, self- designated "vice president" of the Serb republic within Bosnia, came to government-held Sarajevo Tuesday for talks about governing post-war Bosnia.

    Koljevic said he felt "strange and nostalgic" to visit the Bosnian capital again, but added it was "good that people meet again and talk to each other." Koljevic's forces shelled, starved, and besieged the city for almost four years; more than 10,000 people were killed. Although an international tribunal has called the siege of Sarajevo a war crime, for the deliberate murder of thousands of civilians in shelling and sniping attacks, no one has been punished for the carnage.

    On Wednesday, two Serbian opposition leaders from Banja Luka went to Sarajevo at the invitation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe: Miodrag Zivanovic, Liberal Party leader, and Milorad Dodik, head of the Social Democratic Party. Some Western diplomats say they are more "moderate" and acceptable alternatives to hard-line Serb nationalists who oversaw the war's brutal ethnic cleansing.

    Earlier in the week, Kresimir Zubak, president of the Bosnian-Croat federation, had met with Serb nationalist officials Momcilo Krajisnik and Aleksa Buha at their Pale headquarters.

    [13] SMITH OPTIMISTIC.

    NATO Commander Admiral Leighton Smith says he is "optimistic" about NATO's mission in Bosnia. While troops face dangers from landmines, accidents, and rogue snipers, he said, main military units on all sides have been cooperating with implementation of the Dayton accords.

    [14] `BEYOND THE GRAVES.'

    While Western media attention has focused the past few weeks on evidence mass graves, war-crimes investigators are also preparing evidence of the mass rape of Bosnian women as a Serbian weapon of war, AP reports.

    Among the victims being treated at a counseling center in Zenica: a 12-year-old girl raped repeatedly by Serbian soldiers, then shot; a woman held captive for 14 months at a house in Serb-occupied Sarajevo, and repeatedly raped by dozens of men; and a 15-year-old girl gang-raped by 19 Serb men. That girl said her brother's nose and ears were cut off after he refused to rape their mother. (The full text of this AP article is available on the Internet at http://www.usatoday.com/news/index.nbos141.htm).

    Serb nationalists also sexually abused men they held prisoner. Many were severely beaten on their genitals. Some were sodomized or castrated - - - one when a man was forced by Serb guards to bite off the testicles of a fellow prisoner, according to the war-crimes tribunal; the victim bled to death. Others prisoners were forced to perform sexual acts with each other. "Guards would be standing around, laughing," a 43-year-old Croat man told AP. "Afterwards, I would just go numb." The man, who also suffered broken legs and ribs in beatings, has sought counseling at a Zagreb center for sexually abused war prisoners.

    "The sexual abuse of men is one of most hidden war crimes," said Dr. Mladen Loncar at the center.

    [15] TRIBUNAL CHIEF EXPECTED TO LEAVE.

    The UN has begun seeking a replacement for Richard Goldstone, the chief prosecutor of an international tribunal investigating war crimes in former Yugoslavia. Goldstone, a judge from South Africa, had pledged to return to that country's constitutional court this summer.

    Supporters of the tribunal's work worry that Goldstone's departure would damage its chances of gaining custody of suspects. "(Serbia's President) Milosevic doesn't care about The Hague because he doesn't think it will happen," Srdja Popovic, a Serbian government lawyer now in exile, told the N.Y. Times. "If Mr. Goldstone goes it will be another signal for Milosevic not to worry."

    The N.Y. Times also reports that Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, adamantly opposes U.S. soldiers arresting Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, fearing retaliation against American troops. Karadzic and Mladic have been indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity.

    [16] OMARSKA TO REOPEN FOR MINING?

    Omarska, one of the most notorious Serb-run concentration camps, will reopen as a mine, once negotiations are finalized to trade iron from the site for Croatian oil, a Serb official told Reuters.

    Inmates were beaten, starved, and tortured at Omarska, with dozens executed daily, according to Roy Gutman's Pulitzer-Prize Winning reports, A Witness to Genocide. Men were held in metal cages stacked four high, with no protection from cold or rain, no water to clean themselves and no toilets, forcing them to live in their own waste. Often they went without food for days. More than a thousand people were believed killed there; survivors saw men shot and beaten to death, and at least one man burned alive. The camp's commander, Dragan Nikolic, has been indicted for crimes against humanity.

    [17] `SECRET NETWORK' OF SERBS HELPED MUSLIM VICTIMS.

    An underground network of Serbs opposed to `ethnic cleansing' attempted to help some of the half-million non-Serb victims in the Banja Luka region, a Muslim religious leader there told Reuters.

    "There were Serbs who secretly helped the Muslims in attempting to ease the suffering caused by Serb extremists," said Ibrahim Halilovic, mufti for the area. "We are very grateful for that." An estimated 95% of Muslims and Croats were killed, imprisoned, or expelled from the area after being robbed of their property; and all mosques in the region were destroyed.

    Halilovic said it is too early to discuss details of the network, as hard-line Serb nationalists are still in power in Serb-held parts of Bosnia.

    [18] ARSONISTS DESTROY REFUGEE CAMP.

    Arsonists burned down a German-run tent camp for refugees near Tuzla, AP reports, leaving 160 people homeless. The aid agency Deutsche Humanitaere Stiftung blamed Muslim warlords who no longer have a war to fight -- nor any prospects of finding jobs in a country where the shattered economy is operating at 5% of pre-war levels. The agency's director said that militiamen had threatened workers and demanded to "help" distribute aid.

    One victim, 27-year-old Ramiza Mujkic, told AP that the fire was even worse than the destruction of her house by Serb forces during the war. "I had just started to live a life again," she said, weeping.

    [19] SARAJEVANS STILL WITHOUT DAILY HEAT.

    Natural-gas supplies remain inadequate in the Bosnian capital, forcing residents to go without gas every second day. Few can afford -- or find -- wood to use during their days without gas, while electricity is too tightly rationed to be used for heat. Electricity supplies -- enough for lights and televisions had remained constant all month until power breaks last weekend.

    [20] COMMUNICATIONS UPDATE.

    Outgoing mail service has resumed from Sarajevo after four years of siege (weight is limited to 200 grams per letter). However, there is still no mail service going into the city, a postal worker there said -- despite reports from local ham-radio operators that a few pieces of postal mail have somehow gotten through.

    International telephone service has improved into Sarajevo in recent weeks, with callers reporting a much easier time getting lines. Sarajevo's phone lines to the outside world were severed for much of the war.

    [21] CIVILIAN FLIGHTS TO SARAJEVO?

    Civilian flights between Sarajevo and Belgrade may resume in March, according to the Sarajevo daily Vecernje Novine. Unnamed sources told the newspaper that Yugoslav Air Transport plans to establish the flights -- which would be the first since the siege of the city began in 1992.

    [22] CORRECTION.

    Last week's issue of "This Week in BiH" incorrectly identified Zeljko Berberovic, who told the NY Times: "I don't remember what we were trying to do with this war, and now I don't care. I got out alive, and now the only thing I want is to leave the Serbian republic. I'll go almost anywhere else." He was a soldier in the Bosnian Serb Army.

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