ZAGREB, December 18, 2019 – Chief State Prosecutor Dražen Jelenić said in Sarajevo on Wednesday that regional cooperation in the prosecution of war crimes should comply with European standards and that currently it was not realistic to expect a separate agreement on the mutual extradition of war crimes suspects.
The establishment of a mechanism or the signing of an agreement between countries in the region on the mutual extradition of war crimes suspects in not realistic for the time being, Jelenić said, expressing at the same time readiness to cooperate on the basis of existing laws.
Jelenić was participating in a meeting of representatives of regional prosecutorial authorities, which was also attended by the Chief Prosecutor of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), Serge Brammertz.
In a statement to Hina, Jelenić said that it was primarily important for Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to align their actions with the legal standards in force in the EU, including Croatia.
“… that would include the application of the European arrest warrant, which regulates and enables the extradition of a country’s citizens to other countries for any criminal offence,” said Jelenić.
He assessed regional cooperation in war crimes cases as satisfactory but noted that it could definitely be better.
This requires overcoming obstacles that concern the countries’ legal systems as they are no longer as compatible as they were before the break-up of the former state, he said.
“In a way, Croatia’s membership of the EU and the high legal standards that we have to comply with, as well as rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, complicate the situation. We are trying to explain our legal situation to our colleagues in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and expect them to adjust their actions in cases requiring regional cooperation to those high standards,” Jelenić said.
He confirmed that Croatia wanted to step up cooperation, notably with Serbia, in obtaining evidence in war crimes cases for the purpose of their prosecution.
“We are aware that a large body of evidence as well as a large number of perpetrators are in Serbia, and the problem with that country is that those perpetrators are not prosecuted in line with command responsibility,” he said.
MICT Chief Prosecutor Brammertz said at the Sarajevo meeting that closer cooperation between the prosecutorial authorities in the countries in the region was necessary to complete the prosecution of the numerous war crimes cases, warning that in the last three years little had been done in the region in terms of the transfer of cases.
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