Monday, April 04, 2005

Another Indictee Surrenders, But Arrest Warrant Issued for Key General

Police general Sreten Lukic was transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague today, Serbian radio and television station B92 reports. The transfer of Lukic, indicted for his role in the 1998-9 Kosovo conflict, was vital for Serbia to gain the go-ahead for a Stabilisation and Association (SAA) agreement with the EU, the first stage on the road to membership. Lukic underwent a heart operation last week and doctors have now judged it safe for him to travel. However, the second key indictee, Nebojsa Pavkovic, is currently nowhere to be found, having disappeared from his house a few days ago. Interior Minister Dragan Jocic confirmed on 2 April that an arrest warrant- albeit on another matter - had been issued for him - and that a search was currently taking place. Asked whether it would forcefully arrest him, Jocic said the government would do everything necessary to ensure it met its commitments to ICTY.

Until now, Vojislav Kostunica's government has preferred to rely on voluntary arrests. In other news, Ljubomir Borovcanin, a Bosnian Serb indicted in connection with the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, surrendered voluntarily on 1 April and has now left for the Hague, accompanied by Bosnian Serb Interior Minister Darko Matijasevic. Borovcanin was the deputy commander of special police forces at the time when the Srebrenica massacre took place. He reported to General Radislav Krstic, who was the first person to be convicted of genocide by ICTY. Borovcanin was the twelfth Bosnian Serb or Serbian indictee to surrender to ICTY since November 2004; Lukic is the thirteenth.

Significance: Pavkovic is now the major hurdle between Serbia and an SAA with the EU, but it is encouraging that Vojislav Kostunica's government seems to be willing to make an arrest, rather than rely on its policy of encouraging surrenders.

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