Serbia’s Extradition Request of Mr. Ganic is an Assault on Bosnia’s Sovereignty

Mr. Ejup Ganic, the former member of the wartime presidency of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), was arrested on March 1, 2010, at London’s Heathrow Airport after Serbia had issued a warrant for his extradition. Mr. Ganic is being held in custody at the Westminster Magistrates Court in London.

The Serbian government issued an indictment for Mr. Ganic, alleging that he and 19 others, including other members of Bosnia’s wartime presidency, were responsible for a shooting that took place in 1992 at the Dobrovoljacka Street in Sarajevo. The shooting occurred as a convoy of Yugoslav troops, shepherded by the United Nations, was evacuating from Sarajevo after a deal was brokered with the Yugoslav troops to release the late President of BiH Alija Izetbegovic. An investigation was conducted by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and no indictments were issued in the case. Furthermore, as of the day of Mr. Ganic’s arrest, neither BiH nor Serbia has formally filed any charges against Mr. Ganic. Serbia’s extradition request is in direct violation of the system set up by the ICTY to try in its court alleged crimes committed in the Balkans during the 1990’s. Furthermore, Serbia’s extradition request is in direct contravention of a recently signed agreement on extradition between the governments of BiH and Serbia.

Serbia’s action is an assault on Bosnia’s inherent and inalienable right to defend its population against the Serbian aggression, it is an assault on the reconciliation process, and it is an attempt to undermine the atrocities committed in BiH from 1992 to 1995 by joint Yugoslav National Army (JNA) and Serbian paramilitary troops under Belgrade’s command. Serbia has demonstrated by this politicized action that it does not respect Bosnia’s sovereignty and that it is not yet prepared to be a trusted neighbor in the Balkans.

BAACBH strongly urges the British authorities to expedite the investigation and carefully examine the validity of Serbia’s indictment against Mr. Ganic. We hope that the procedure will be carried out in accordance with the rule of law and that Mr. Ganic is freed so he can return to his home in BiH.