Bosnian ex-general, 12 others suspected of war crimes

Atif Dudakovic and other commanders were arrested in raids. (Shutterstock)
Updated 27 April 2018
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Bosnian ex-general, 12 others suspected of war crimes

  • Atif Dudakovic and other commanders and members of the wartime Bosnian Army's 5th Corps were detained in early morning raids in several towns
  • Dudakovic became the Bosnian army commander after the war and remains highly respected and popular

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Bosnian police detained a former Bosnian army commander and 12 other people Friday on suspicion of war crimes against Serb and Bosnian civilians and prisoners during the country's deadly 1992-95 war.
Atif Dudakovic and other commanders and members of the wartime Bosnian Army's 5th Corps were detained in early morning raids in several towns, the Bosnian prosecutor's office said. They are suspected of atrocities against mainly hundreds of Serbs in northwestern Bosnia, the statement said.
It added the case against the group is based on hundreds of testimonies, video footage and other evidence.
Initially, prosecutors said Dudakovic and 11 others were detained, but police apprehended one more suspect later Friday.
Dudakovic's arrest is sensitive for Bosnia, because he was in charge of the northwestern Bihac area that was under Serb siege during most of the war that killed around 100,000 people and left millions homeless.
The 64-year-old former general became the Bosnian army commander after the war and remains highly respected and popular.
"We are shocked," said Dzevad Malkoc, the official who deals with war veterans in the Bihac area. "This is a blow to the state, to all patriots who defended this state."
Reactions to Dudakovic's arrest reflected Bosnia's persisting ethnic divisions, with Muslim citizens criticizing the move and Serbs saying it is welcome, although late.
The Muslim head of the country's three-member Bosnian Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, warned against attempts to create "a false ethnic balance" in prosecuting war crimes. He said the arrests Friday were an "unnecessary humiliation" because the suspects have been cooperating with the investigation.
Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik said the "relatives of the victims have been waiting for justice for 20 years."
The war started when Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia, triggering a rebellion by Bosnia's Serbs, who took control of more than half of the country seeking to merge with neighboring Serbia.
A peace agreement for Bosnia was signed in 1995, but tensions between the country's Muslims, Serbs and Croats still persist. Today's Bosnia is comprised of a Serb entity and a Muslim-Croat one.
In the Serb town of Banja Luka, Milorad Kojic, who heads a group investigating wartime crimes against Serbs, said they have submitted to the Bosnian prosecutors more than 8,000 pages of evidence against Dudakovic and others, including allegedly incriminating video footage.
The case involves 256 victims between the ages of nine and 99, Kojic said.


‘Results’ needed from Myanmar over Rohingya return: UNHCR head

Updated 22 min 10 sec ago
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‘Results’ needed from Myanmar over Rohingya return: UNHCR head

  • A UN fact-finding mission called for Myanmar’s top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide”
  • Myanmar pejoratively labels the Rohingya as “Bengali,” implying they are illegal interlopers

YANGON: Myanmar must “show results” to convince Rohingya refugees to return, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday at the end of his first visit to Myanmar since the crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in 2017.
A brutal military campaign in western Rakhine state forced some 740,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh.
Around one million Rohingya now languish in sprawling refugee camps from various waves of persecution.
A UN fact-finding mission called for Myanmar’s top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide” and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has started preliminary investigations.
During his visit Grandi spoke with both Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhist communities in Maungdaw and Buthidaung in northern Rakhine, the epicenter of the violence.
He also held discussions with officials in capital Naypyidaw, including civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, describing all talks as “constructive.”
“My message is: ‘please accelerate’, because it has been very slow in the implementation in this first year. We need to show results,” he told AFP in an interview in Yangon.
“This is not enough to convince people to come back,” he said.
Grandi visited the camps in Bangladesh in April.
The two countries have signed a repatriation agreement but so far virtually no refugees have returned, fearing for their safety and unconvinced they will be granted citizenship.
Myanmar pejoratively labels the Rohingya as “Bengali,” implying they are illegal interlopers and the community has had its rights eroded over decades.
Gaining independent access to northern Rakhine is difficult with most journalists, observers and diplomats only allowed on brief chaperoned visits.
Grandi defended the UNHCR’s involvement in a plan by the Bangladeshi government to move some 100,000 refugees onto low-lying island Bhashan Char.
The area in the Bay of Bengal is prone to flooding and cyclones.
Rights groups oppose the scheme that has also so far been universally rejected by the Rohingya themselves.
The refugee agency must be “involved” to have the necessary information in order to take a stance on the issue, Grandi said.
“We’re still at that stage, no more than that.”
He also visited camps near Rakhine’s capital Sittwe, where nearly 130,000 Rohingya have been confined since a previous bout of violence in 2012.
Myanmar has announced it will close the camps but many are skeptical the displaced will enjoy more freedoms.
Grandi said the UNHCR would reconsider its role in providing services if conditions did not substantially improve.
“To simply transform the camps, upgrade the camps, upgrade the houses, for example, but leave them in the same situation will not be a solution,” he said.