July 12, 1996
Broader Arrest Warrants Issued for Karadzic, Mladic
By MARLISE SIMONS
HE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The U.N. war crimes tribunal issued international arrest warrants on Thursday for the Bosnian Serbs' political leader, Radovan Karadzic, and their military chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic, who are both charged with genocide and other crimes in the four-year Bosnian war.
The warrants oblige member states of the United Nations to arrest the men if they enter their countries. But the warrants are unlikely to have any immediate effect since Western countries have not been willing to have their peacekeeping troops in Bosnia seek the two leaders out.
The tribunal also called publicly, for the first time, for an investigation to determine whether President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia shares responsibility for war crimes in the Bosnian conflict. The Bosnian fighting has taken tens of thousands of lives, uprooted millions of people, and added "ethnic cleansing" to the world's vocabulary.
By openly extending the tribunal's inquiry to Milosevic, the three-judge panel has taken a step that some Western officials had hoped to postpone, since they see the Serbian president's cooperation, faced with a reimposition of sanctions, as vital to the continuing peace effort.
The tribunal has reportedly been secretly gathering evidence about Milosevic for some time. But on Thursday, the three judges made formal a decision to investigate whether the Serbian president -- who supported the neighboring Bosnian Serbs in their effort to conquer parts of Bosnia -- should be held accountable for crimes committed in the military campaign, such as deliberate, large-scale killings of civilians.
Judge Claude Jorda of France, who first read out charges against Karadzic and Mladic, said that the court had no choice but to ask the prosecution "to investigate decision-making responsibility at the same, or higher level."
Documents and testimony in the hands of the court, he said, suggested "that a plan existed, designed at the highest Serbian political and military level, to set up a new state through the use of violence" in Bosnia. Jorda avoided using Milosevic's name at this point. But in their written decision, the judges referred to communications in 1991 in which Milosevic and Karadzic discussed their plans for the coming war.
In an interview, a court official said the call to investigate "higher levels of responsibility" amounted to an announcement that the tribunal was looking into the Serbian president's possible personal responsibility for war crimes.
The issuing of international arrest warrants against the two central figures of the Bosnian war is the strongest measure the tribunal can take, short of trying the accused, which it cannot do in their absence.
Indictments and local arrest warrants for the two men were issued last year and sent to the authorities in Belgrade, Pale (the Bosnian Serb headquarters), and Sarajevo, as well as to the governments of Britain, France, the United States, and Switzerland. The tribunal is essentially the creation of Western countries, which, however, have been unwilling to have peacekeeping troops in Bosnia arrest the leaders, or to use economic sanctions to press the Bosnian Serbs or Serbia to hand them over to The Hague, as called for under the Dayton peace accords.
With the new arrest warrants, which are broader than the existing ones, the tribunal hopes to increase pressure on the West to have the suspects arrested. But if a country refuses, the tribunal can do little more than complain to the U.N. Security Council.
Christian Chartier, a spokesman for the court, said that Thursday's decision "puts the burden on the international community to live up to its commitment to the court and carry out its decisions."
The arrest warrants and the call for the investigation of Milosevic came a year after the Bosnian Serb takeover of the town of Srebrenica. Western officials believe that thousands of Muslim men and boys were killed in the following days, an event that figures prominently in the indictments of the two leaders.
As part of its effort to press the West to arrest the Bosnian Serb leaders, for the past two weeks the tribunal has held hearings to present evidence against them. The fate of Srebrenica and of many other Muslim towns and villages was described in detail.
"War and darkness descended upon Bosnia-Herzegovina, a culturally rich and diverse land and the toll in human lives has been enormous," the prosecutor said. "The fury and cruelty of ethnic cleansing have shocked the conscience of the world."
The prosecutors said that in addition to the killing, torture, and rape of tens of thousands of civilians, Bosnian Serbs destroyed 1,123 mosques, 504 Roman Catholic churches, 5 synagogues, and had also targeted cemeteries and monasteries in their effort to create purely Serbian regions. While some Croats and Muslims also committed atrocities, Bosnian Serb crimes were more systematic and centrally directed, officials have charged.
In his summary on Thursday, Jorda said: "Ethnic cleansing, it seems, was not the byproduct of the war, but rather its aim."
In announcing Thursday's ruling, the three-judge panel unanimously confirmed the existing indictments against Karadzic and Mladic. The judges also asked the prosecution to include additional charges of genocide.
In their ruling on Thursday, the judges also expanded other charges against Karadzic and Mladic. In the indictments, the two leaders have been charged with "command responsibility" for genocide and other crimes of war. But the judges ruled that they are also "personally responsible" for the crimes with which they are charged, a definition which aggravates their culpability. The court's decision said that Karadzic and Mladic "were not only informed of the crimes allegedly committed under their authority, but also, and in particular, they exercised their power in order to plan, instigate, order, or otherwise aid and abet in the planning, preparation, and execution of the said crimes."
The judges said that the offenses were committed in keeping with "a political program, and institutional and military organizations."