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UN Envoy In Bosnia Sacks 60 Over War Crimes Failure

international envoy Paddy Ashdown (file photo) 30 June 2004 -- The top UN official in Bosnia has sacked 60 Bosnian Serb officials over the failure to arrest former Bosnian Serb leader and top war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic.

Paddy Ashdown told journalists today that the officials he removed include Bosnian Serb parliament speaker Dragan Kalinic, a wartime ally of Karadzic, and Interior Minister Zoran Djeric.

Ashdown has sweeping powers to remove officials seen as obstructing the peace process under the 1995 Dayton accord that ended Europe's worst conflict since World War II.

Bosnia's Republika Srpska has been under growing Western pressure to arrest Karadzic and other war crimes suspects at large.

"I have, therefore, decided to take measures to clean out the corrupt and obstructionist structures in the [Republika Srpska] at all levels and across the entity, but especially within the SDS [Serbian Democratic Party] and to root out those people who bear the heaviest responsibility for creating a climate of secrecy, intimidation, and criminal impunity that allows indicted war criminals to evade justice," Ashdown said. "In all, I am removing some 60 people today: Eleven will be removed indefinitely, 48 may return to public life once Radovan Karadzic is in The Hague and [Bosnia-Herzegovina], and especially its entity, the [Republika Srpska], is in full compliance with its international obligations under the [International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia]."

Karadzic has been indicted by a UN tribunal at The Hague on charges of genocide for his role in atrocities during the Bosnian conflict, including the Bosnian Serb massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

The UN's chief prosecutor in The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, suggested yesterday that Karadzic could be arrested as early as today.


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