ICTY Prosecutor Brammertz Criticizes Croatia’s Reaction to Arrests in Bosnia

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Brammertz says there is no selective justice being applied in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Serge Brammertz said that the recent arrest of former members of HVO (Croatian forces during the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina) was not “selective justice”, reports Jutarnji List on November 6, 2016.

Brammertz said that statements of politicians about judicial issues may create the impression of the existence of “undue political influence”, and added that the independence of prosecutors and the judiciary must be respected and protected. “When it comes to the assessment that the recent arrests in Orašje in Bosnia and Herzegovina represented selective justice, the Prosecutor’s Office of the ICTY does not consider that to be the case”, said Brammertz. According to him, the fact is that the Office of Prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina has filed charges and indictments regardless of the nationality of victims or perpetrators, based only on the strength of evidence.

“If you just look at the indictments that were submitted this year, it is difficult to see selective justice. There are, among other locations, cases of crimes in Stolac, Milići and Konjic”, he said, commenting on sharp criticism by Croatian officials about the arrests of former HVO members. Brammertz added that the Prosecutor’s Office of the ICTY would “monitor and report on further developments in this case, as it does for all other significant proceedings in the region”.

Asked whether it was allowed for the government of a country which is a member of the European Union to direct its judicial institutions not to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in neighbouring countries, Brammertz said that the Hague prosecution earlier this year expressed its concern to the Croatian government and the UN Security Council because Croatian authorities were instructed not to provide judicial cooperation in connection with certain war crimes cases. “Such policy hinders regional cooperation and we have asked the Croatian government to reconsider it”, he stressed.

Brammertz also said that, with regards to the regional cooperation in connection with war crimes cases among countries of the former Yugoslavia, there are obviously different standards than the ones which exist in the judicial cooperation among EU countries.

“When I worked as a prosecutor in Belgium, it was inconceivable that a colleague in the EU would not be able to cooperate with me due to the policies of his government”, he said and stressed that regional cooperation in relation to war crimes should be significantly improved, so that it would reach European standards.


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