And then there were three

Unexpected good news from Serbia: police have picked up Stojan Zupljanin, one of the four remaining war crimes suspects still at large.

Zupljanin is a pretty good catch. He was a medium-big fish: a police administrator in Yugoslav times, he became head of all police in the Serb part of Bosnia. He was deeply involved in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Croats, and then a bit later he had administrative authority over the detention camps where hundreds died and thousands more were beaten, starved and tortured. (A copy of the ICTY indictment against him can be found here.) You could maybe call him the Ernst Kaltenbrunner of wartime Bosnia.

There was a € 250,000 Euro award for his arrest; it’s not clear who, if anyone, is collecting this. In fact, the circumstances of his arrest are still murky. He was picked up in Pancevo, a suburb of Belgrade — it’s just across the Danube to the north.

This leaves just three indicted war criminals at large: the Big Two, Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and military commander Ratko Mladic, plus Milosevic’s Krajina lackey Goran Hadzic.

Personally I’d be very surprised if any of these three are caught, but then I’ve just been pleasantly surprised by Zupljanin’s arrest. Certainly I’d love to be wrong!

Eric Gordy, as usual, is on top of this — check out the comments thread. And one blogger has this interesting speculation:

[That] Kostunica is finished became clear today when the secret police cast their very public vote by arresting indicted war criminal Stojan Zupljanin.

For if Kostunica and his mates the Radicals were going to form the next government, you can be sure that those who listen to the mobile phone conversations of criminals and politicians alike would never have arrested a war crimes indictee days before a Radical dominated government takes power, given the stated Radical election pledge that if they were to form the next government, no more fugitives would be sent to the Hague.

So there’s clearly been a Eurovision moment and the writing is on Dedinje’s walls. War crimes arrests = “For a European Serbia” forming the next government, albeit with smellier partners such as Slobo’s mob and Ugljanin’s Party of Disreputable (Municipal) Administration (SDA)…

I for one, am really looking forward to hearing Kostunica, (still, just) Serbian Prime Minister comment on how the police, under his party’s control, carried out an arrest in order to bring Serbia closer to the European Union via the Hague Tribunal.

Not sure I agree with this — coincidences do happen, even in Serbia — but it’s definitely something to think about; the secret police and security services are still quite strong in Serbia (and, yes, elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia), and there’s no question they’ve tracked war crimes suspects in the past.

And you have to love the term “Eurovision moment”.

Watching this with interest.

[Update] Got the following e-mail this afternoon:

Brussels policy people have speculated that this was PM Kostunica’s last attempt to stay in Government after the Dutch said yesterday they would not refer the SAA to their parliament for ratification, however the whole thing was Tadic’s call.

Basically, two weeks ago President Tadic created an American-style National Security Council of which Miodrag Rakic (Tadic’s Chief of Staff) is secretary. They decided and coordinated the arrest completely outside the channels of Kostunica who normally would coordinate these arrests with the Ministry of Interior and the Intelligence services.

They are keen that people are aware of where the credit should go, and it’s not a last minute attempt of people to keep their jobs.

Interesting! I hadn’t heard about Rakic and the new National Security Council. Can any of our Serbian readers confirm?

7 thoughts on “And then there were three

  1. The road to Brussels still runs through The Hague, and Serbia still needs Europe more than vice versa. It’s nice to see reality having an effect.

  2. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Serbia: Stojan Zupljanin

  3. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia: Top war crimes suspect Župljanin arrested

  4. Pingback: Global Voices in Italiano » Catturato il superlatitante Župljanin accusato di gravi crimini di guerra

  5. Pingback: Karadzic arrested!? | afoe | A Fistful of Euros | European Opinion

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