MEP Marijana Petir and others questioned President Bakir Izetbegović who visited the European Parliament.
“The arrests of Bosnian Croats in Orašje happened at a really awkward moment, but the Office of Prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) carry out their duties without our knowledge and I hope that this temporary crisis in relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Croatia will be overcome”, said Bakir Izetbegović, President of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina who on Tuesday visited the European Parliament, reports Večernji List on November 8, 2016.
President Izetbegović took part in a debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, and he also met with an informal group “Friends of Bosnia and Herzegovina”. During both of these occasions, he was questioned by Croatia’s MEP about the recent arrests of ten former members of HVO (Croatian forces during the 1990s war in BiH). The arrests took place just days after Croatian Prime Ministers Andrej Plenković visited Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“There is a suspicion that these are political show-trials”, said to Izetbegović MEP Marijana Petir (HSS). However, President Izetbegović was surprised and wondered why people had been “addressing” this question to Bosniak politicians. “Acting prosecutor is a Croatian, while a Serb is the director of SIPA, which carried out the arrests. These are potential crimes which might have been committed by Croats against Serbs. I really do not see a reason why this issue should be addressed to the Bosniak leadership. I think we have clarified that today and that Croatian MEPs were satisfied with my answer”, said Izetbegović.
Trying to prove that politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina do not know against whom prosecutors would file charges and when SIPA would make arrests, Izetbegović told reporters about his own experiences. “I was surprised, for example, by the arrest of people who defended Srebrenica and of General Sejdić who defended besieged Goražde. We really do not have any influence over these things”, said Izetbegović, adding that after the arrest of Naser Orić he had to postpone the visit of Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić to Sarajevo.
Asked by reporters whether there was an investigation over war crimes allegedly committed at Mrkonjić Grad at the time of Croatian Army and HVO’s operations in 1995, and whether that investigation was focusing on current Croatian Minister of Defence and former general Damir Krstičević, Izetbegović said he did not have enough information.
“I do not know enough about the investigation that I could give you an answer today, but in general I can say this – judicial authorities are independent and politicians should have no influence on them”, concluded Izetbegović.