Austria won't send Bosnia general to Serbia

VIENNA Mon Mar 7, 2011 4:51pm IST

Bosnian army General Jovan Divjak speaks during an interview with Reuters in his office in Sarajevo in this September 1995 file photo. Austria will not extradite to Serbia Divjak who was arrested last week on a Serbian warrant demanding he face war crimes charges, the foreign ministry said on Monday. REUTERS/Danilo Krsanovic/Files

Bosnian army General Jovan Divjak speaks during an interview with Reuters in his office in Sarajevo in this September 1995 file photo. Austria will not extradite to Serbia Divjak who was arrested last week on a Serbian warrant demanding he face war crimes charges, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

Credit: Reuters/Danilo Krsanovic/Files

Related Topics

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria will not extradite to Serbia a former Bosnian army general arrested last week on a Serbian warrant demanding he face war crimes charges, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

Austrian police arrested Jovan Divjak at Vienna airport on Thursday, triggering protests in Sarajevo and Vienna at the weekend.

"According to our international law experts, an extradition to Serbia is inconceivable," Foreign Minister Michael Schindelleger told the Kurier newspaper.

A ministry spokesman confirmed the comments, which he described as "a signal towards the people of Bosnia". He said extradition requests had to take into account Austria's foreign policy interests, international law and other factors.

Spindelleger cancelled a planned trip to Sarajevo on Monday due to illness but hoped to meet his Bosnian counterpart within days either there or in Vienna, the spokesman added.

Still popular in Bosnia, Divjak is one of a group of 19 Bosnian officials charged by Serbia over an attack on a Yugoslav army column in Sarajevo early in the 1992-95 war.

Serb prosecutors say 42 Yugoslav soldiers were killed and 73 wounded in May 1992 when the Bosnian army attacked the convoy after it had been offered safe passage and was being escorted out of the city by U.N. troops.

Yugoslav army General Milutin Kukanjac, who had ordered the withdrawal of his forces from Sarajevo, has said that only six people were killed that day.

The United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague has dropped the case due to lack of evidence.

A British court, which last year arrested Bosnia's wartime presidency member Ejup Ganic on the same warrant from Serbia, released him, saying the charges were unfounded.

Divjak, an ethnic Serb who defected from the former Yugoslav Peoples Army after it bombed Sarajevo in April 1992 and joined Bosnian forces, is seen as a hero in Sarajevo, which Bosnian Serb forces besieged for 43 months.

On Saturday, around 5,000 people protested peacefully in the Bosnian capital demanding his release from Austrian custody.

Divjak is the third Bosnian high-ranking official arrested outside the country on Serbian warrants for crimes committed on Bosnian territory during the 1992-95 war.

The issue of unresolved war crimes committed in the Balkan wars of the 1990s burdens relations among the former Yugoslav republics.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Additional reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo; Editing by Jon Hemming)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Pro-Democracy Protests

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ebola in U.S.

Ebola in U.S.

Dallas Ebola patient vomited outside apartment on way to hospital  Full Article 

Fighting Islamic State

Fighting Islamic State

Turkey vows to fight Islamic State, coalition strikes near border.  Full Article 

'Ground Zero'

'Ground Zero'

Concerns, questions as Dallas becomes 'ground zero' for Ebola in U.S.  Full Article 

Security Lapse

Security Lapse

U.S. Secret Service director resigns under fire  Full Article 

Road Offences

Road Offences

France's Le Pen loses driving licence, but says not her fault.  Full Article 

Nuclear Deal

Nuclear Deal

Israel's Netanyahu to Obama: Don't allow Iran deal that leaves it at nuclear threshold.  Full Article 

Germany Politics

Germany Politics

German defence crisis puts potential Merkel successor in hot seat .  Full Article 

Peace Conference

Peace Conference

Nobel Laureates condemn South Africa visa denial to Dalai Lama.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage