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Bosnia: Arrest of Srebrenica Indictee Hailed

Karadzic, Mladic Still At Large

Human Rights Watch applauded the apprehension of indicted war crimes suspect Colonel Dragan Obrenovic on April 15 in the Bosnian town of Zvornik.

Radovan Karadzic, Bosnia's most notorious war crimes suspect and the mastermind behind ethnic cleansing during the war, and Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander, were charged with genocide also in connection with the Srebrenica massacre.

In Srebrenica many thousands of men were detained by Bosnian Serb troops under General Mladic's command. Eyewitnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch described the horror as hundreds of men were lined up in front of mass graves and shot. More than 7,000 remain missing and are believed to have been killed or executed.

Karadzic and Mladic remain at large and are believed to be living in Bosnia. Human Rights Watch welcomed today's acknowledgment by the Bush administration that Karadzic and Mladic bear ultimate responsibility for Srebrenica and that they must be brought to justice.

"The arrest of Obrenovic is a positive step, but Karadzic and Mladic must also be arrested for the atrocities committed in Srebrenica," said Holly Cartner, Executive Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. "Until they are in custody in The Hague, the thousands of victims of wartime atrocities in Bosnia have no hope of real justice."

According to sources in Brussels and Washington, D.C., U.S. troops participated in the arrest of Obrenovic. Human Rights Watch welcomed the involvement of U.S. troops and expressed hope that this would be the beginning of a more assertive role by U.S. troops in arrest efforts in Bosnia. "We sincerely hope that the Bush administration will do what the Clinton administration did not - enlist U.S. troops in Bosnia to help apprehend the worst war crimes indictees and transfer them to The Hague," added Cartner. "Such arrests are crucial for long-term peace and justice in Bosnia, but the U.S. government's own much desired exit strategy also hangs in the balance."

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