Croatia Reacts to Arrests of Croatian Nationals for War Crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Foreign Minister Steir and Defence Minister Krstičević commented on arrest of ten Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Davor Ivo Stier commented on Monday’s arrest of ten former members of HVO (Croatian forces during the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina), who have Croatian citizenship as well. He pointed out that Croatia had expressed its concern through the embassy in Sarajevo and that Croatian ambassador in Sarajevo had been given clear instructions in connection with the case, reports on November 1, 2016.

“We have expressed our concern through the embassy in Sarajevo, we have contacted competent institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and I have personally instructed our Ambassador to demand access to the arrested Croatian nationals, who are citizens of both Croatia and BiH”, said the Minister. He added that, since they have dual citizenship, BiH authorities consider them as their nationals. In this context, Croatian Ambassador in Sarajevo Ivan Del Vecchio demanded to be allowed to visit them, Stier said, adding that indictments had not been filed, but they had to give an official statement to prosecution. The court will decide within 24 hours about their further detention.

Ten former members of HVO from the Bosnian Posavina region were arrested on Monday. BiH Prosecutor’s Office suspects them of having committed war crimes against persons of Serbian nationality during the war. Among those arrested is Đuro Matuzović, a retired HVO general and organizer of defence in the Orašje area.

Asked why the arrests happened now, Stier said that the Croatian government would pursue the policy of supporting the European path for Bosnia and Herzegovina. On reporter’s remark that there was an impression that there is a lack of trust in the BiH institutions, Stier reiterated that Croatia will insist on Bosnia and Herzegovina moving along the demanding European path, which Croatia had already passed. “We will support meeting of all the standards, including with regards to the judiciary. There should be no selective justice”, he stressed.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević reiterated that the government wanted to provide maximum assistance to the EU integration process for Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasizing that Croatian national interest needed to be protected. “We have expressed our concern, we have contacted them”, he said.

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs officially expressed on Monday its concern about the arrests of the former HVO members.


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