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Human Rights Watch Welcomes NATO Arrests in Bosnia

Human Rights Watch welcomes the successful arrest today by NATO-led SFOR troops of indicted war crimes suspects Miroslav Kvocka and Mladen Radic. "The continued presence in Bosnia of those who perpetrated war crimes during the war has seriously undermined the Dayton Peace Agreement," stated Holly Cartner, executive director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. " The recent arrests and surrenders have marked the beginning of truly effective implementation of the peace. We are very pleased that the international community is finally sending a clear signal to those who have been indicted: there is no alternative to a fair trial in the Hague."  

The indictment of Kvocka and Radic, issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, charges them with grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. It alleges that the two held leadership positions at the Omarska concentration camp where Muslims and Croats were interned in the spring and summer of 1992. Kvocka was allegedly the commander of the camp for its first month of operation; Radic was a shift commander. According to testimony gathered by Human Rights Watch in 1992, Kvocka was one of three soldiers primarily responsible for torturing prisoners at the Omarska camp. The indictment describes conditions at the camp as follows: "Severe beatings were commonplace. The camp guards, and others who came to the camp and physically abused the prisoners, used all manner of weapons during these beatings, including wooden batons, metal rods and tools, lengths of thick industrial cable that had metal balls affixed to the end, rifle butts, and knives. Both female and male prisoners were beaten, tortured, raped, sexually assaulted, and humiliated. In addition to regular beatings and abuse, there were incidents of multiple killings and special terror. Many, whose identities are known and unknown, did not survive the camp."

The arrest action today marks the fourth such action by NATO-led SFOR troops in Bosnia. Seventy-nine persons have been publicly indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; forty seven remain at large; and thirty three are believed to be in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

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