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Bosnia: U.S. Warns Serb War Crimes Suspects

  • Kitty McKinsey

Prague, 15 October 1997 (RFE/RL) -- A top U.S. human rights official today warned that wanted Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects -- including former wartime leader Radovan Karadzic -- will likely be arrested soon.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, John Shattuck, spoke to RFE/RL while in Prague for a human rights seminar.

He said the international community is "actively and aggressively" pursuing ways to bring the many indicted war crime suspects from former Yugoslavia to face trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Shattuck issued a clear warning.

"No indicted war criminal should have a good night's sleep until they are in the Hague," he said. He added that is it "very likely" they will be in The Hague in the future.

Shattuck said the recent surrender of 10 Bosnian Croat war crimes suspects -- including the top wanted Bosnian Croat, Dario Kordic -- increases pressure on the Bosnian Serbs to turn over Karadzic, General Ratko Mladic and other war crimes suspects. He said that now that so many Bosnian Croats are in custody in The Hague, the Bosnian Serbs can no longer claim they are the main targets of war crimes prosecutions.

On another subject, Shattuck said it has become clear that some sort of international force will be needed in Bosnia after the mandate of the current NATO-led stabilization force (SFOR) ends in June of next year. He said plainly that "the U.S. is not going to end its involvement" in Bosnia quickly.

He said the policy of the U.S. and its NATO allies is now aimed at fulfilling the terms of the Dayton Peace Accords before considering a troop pullout next year.