bosnia report
New Series No: 29-31 June - November 2002
 
Chronology of Events May - October 2002

10 May 2002

SFOR troops seize large quantity of undeclared munitions from a tobacco factory in east Mostar, following which a number of senior Bosnian officials and military personnel face criminal charges.

20 May 2002

New identity cards introduced for all Bosnian citizens.

 

25 May 2002

First Congress of B-H Diaspora takes place in Sarajevo, assembling representatives of Bosnian associations from all over the world.

27 May 2002

Paddy Ashdown officially takes up post as new High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, replacing Wolfgang Petritsch; delivers inaugural speech to the B-H Parliament.

31 May 2002

FRY parliament votes to abolish ‘Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’ and replace it with a looser union called ‘Serbia and Montenegro’.

12 June 2002

Press reports that US government will not allow current or former senior US officials to testify in open court at the ICTY, fearing sources and methods of intelligence gathering may be compromised and also concerned about setting a precedent for US officials being called to testify in future cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

14 June 2002

In first major exercise of his authority as High Representative, Paddy Ashdown calls for resignation of B-H Federation finance minister Nikola Grabovac and RS finance minister Milenko Vracar, for failure to ensure proper guardianship of public funds. Vracar - already seriously threatened by disclosure of a major fraud in the RS customs service, in which not just director Goran Popovic but also anti-corruption chief Nedeljko Milovanovic were allegedly implicated - complies. Grabovac resists and is dismissed by Ashdown.

17 June 2002

ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and tribunal president Claude Jorda visit B-H to explore the possibility of trying ‘lower-level’ war crimes in local courts. Earlier on a visit to Belgrade ICTY deputy chief prosecutor Graham Blewitt tells a press conference that the tribunal will ‘finish its work regardless of the level of cooperation’ by the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, and that it will conclude its investigations by 2004, with the aim of shutting down the court by 2008. Before then, however, the court will issue dozens of additional indictments, charging up to 100 individuals with serious violations of international law.

20 June 2002

Dragoljub Milanovic, former head of Serbian state TV under Milosevic, is sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in the death of sixteen television employees killed by a NATO missile in 1999. Belgrade court rules that he caused ‘grave danger to public security’ by failing to order the evacuation of staff during NATO air raids; victims’ families accuse him of ordering employees to remain at work, so their deaths may be exploited for anti-NATO propaganda.

22 June 2002

SDP nominates Zlatko Lagumdzija to head its list for the B-H Parliament in the forthcoming elections, rather than to stand for the post of Bosniak member on the B-H Presidency, for which Haris Silajdzic has already announced his candidacy. This means that Lagumdzija's opponent will be former SDP leader Nijaz Durakovic, who (as an independent) heads the rival list of Silajdzic’s Stranka za B-H.

26 June 2002

Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, together with Bosnian counterpart Beriz Belkic, officially inaugurates reconstruction of the Old Bridge in Mostar.

30 June 2002

US vetoes six-month extension of UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, in reaction to formal establishment of the ICC.

2 July 2002

NATO-led peacekeeping troops raid the family home of Radovan Karadzic; although as on other occasions they do not find him, they reportedly seize documents and video tapes related to arms smuggling.

7 July 2002

UK defence ministry issues proceedings against ‘Nick Cameron’ (see pages 9-10 below), a highly-decorated former SAS soldier, for breach of contract and confidence in deciding to publish a series of articles about his own experiences in Srebrenica in July 1995.

 

31 July 2002

Fikret Abdic ‘Babo’, self-proclaimed leader of the ‘Autonomous Region of Western Bosnia’, is sentenced to 20 years in prison, after the district court in Karlovac, acting in accordance with a bilateral agreement between B-H and Croatia, finds him guilty of participating in the detention and killing of Bosnian Muslims during the war. B-H Election Commission nevertheless rules that Abdic can run for post of Bosniak member of B-H Presidency in forthcoming elections.

2 August 2002

International Crisis Group publishes new report on Bosnia, assessing Alliance for Change’s record as ruling coalition in B-H Federation. Acknowledging that the Alliance has achieved certain positive results in terms of budgetary and financial discipline, and B-H’s accession to the Council of Europe, the report nevertheless stresses its failure to ‘put more bread on Bosnian tables’.

5 August 2002

Election Commission announces official start of campaign for country-wide elections to be held in October - first to be run by B-H authorities themselves.

6 August 2002

B-H Commission for Missing Persons announces it has completed exhumation of another mass grave at the village of Kamenica in eastern Bosnia, in which more than 200 hundred victims from Srebrenica are buried.

7 August 2002

Ashdown promulgates new ‘Law on State-level Prosecutor’s Office and on appointment of High Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils’, in an attempt to speed up reform of B-H judiciary.

14 August 2002

SFOR troops raid eastern village of Celebici in fresh half-hearted attempt to seize indicted war criminals, including Karadzic.

26 August 2002

Tenth anniversary of destruction of Sarajevo’s National Library by Karadzic’s forces.

2 September 2002

After lengthy delays, trial opens of sixteen Bosnian Serbs accused of offences during ceremony to mark start of reconstruction of Ferhadija mosque in Banja Luka, when a number of people were injured, one fatally.

3 September 2002

RS Bureau for Relations with ICTY produces report on Srebrenica minimizing figures of victims, and claiming almost all were soldiers not civilians.

10 September 2002

At election campaign rally in Mali Zvornik, Vojislav Kostunica describes RS as ‘a part of the family ... only temporarily separated from Yugoslavia’.

11 September 2002

First portion of Milosevic’s trial, relating to Kosova, is brought to a close, to be followed after a two-week break by the portions relating to Croatia and Bosnia.

15 September 2002

Largely peaceful parliamentary elections in Macedonia lead to change of government. Main victors are ‘Together for Macedonia’ coalition dominated by social-democrat SDSM, with 40.5% of votes and 60 out of 120 assembly seats, and recently formed BDI led by former rebel leader Ahmeti, with 11.5% of votes and 17 seats. Main losers are former ruling coalition between VMRO and liberals, with 24% of votes and 34 seats, and two older-established ethnic-Albanian parties: PDS with 5.5% of votes and 7 seats, PPD with 2 seats.

18/19 September 2002

Reconstructed mosque in village of Kljuc near Gacko in RS, to which a few expelled Bosniaks have recently returned, is blown up less than three months after completion.

29 September 2002

With a turnout of 55%, first round of presidential elections in Serbia produce no clear majority winner. Vojislav Kostunica (31%) and Miroljub Labus (27%) will contest the second round, which Vojislav Seselj (23%) calls upon his supporters to boycott.

1 October 2002

Croatian president Stipe Mesic, appearing before ICTY as a prosecution witness, accuses Milosevic of bearing prime responsibility for destruction of former Yugoslavia (SFRY) and aggression against Croatia. Meanwhile retired Croatian general Janko Bobetko is indicted by the Tribunal for command responsibility for crimes committed in operation to re-establish Croatian sovereignty over ‘Medak Pocket’.

2 October 2002

In plea bargain, Biljana Plavsic pleads guilty to ‘persecution based on political, racial and religious grounds’ - a crime against humanity - while ICTY Prosecutor agrees to withdraw other charges in original indictment, including that of genocide. Plavsic thereby recognizes existence of widespread and systematic attacks against a civilian population, and her own full knowledge of the wider context within which those attacks occurred; she admits her own actions were committed on political, racial and religious grounds, with deliberate intent to discriminate. In a statement read by her defence team, Plavsic expresses remorse and invites others, especially other leaders, to ‘examine themselves and their conduct’.

 

General elections in B-H, organized for the first time without OSCE supervision by Bosnia’s own Election Commission, are held without incident, but with low turnout of around 54%. SDA, SBiH, HDZ, SDS, SNSD are main victors, SDP and PDP main losers. SDA candidate Sulejman Tihic narrowly defeats SBiH’s Haris Silajdzic to become Bosniak member of B-H presidency, while SDS’s Mirko Sarovic and HDZ’s Dragan Covic easily secure posts of Serb and Croat presidency member respectively. SDS’s Dragan Cavic equally easily wins race for position of RS president. Initial results indicate only four parties will be represented in Federation assembly and five in RS assembly, with same parties providing representatives to the B-H state parliament; no other party has reached 3% electoral threshold in any one of five constituencies into which Federation electorate is now divided, let alone in either entity or in B-H as a whole. However, the electoral commission rules, on the basis of the democratically flawed and ambiguous new election law in force for these elections, that a further fourteen parties should be given ‘compensatory’ seats in the Federation assembly (making eighteen parties in all in a 98-member house) , a further ten in the RS assembly (making fifteen in all in an 83-member house), and an additional seven in the B-H assembly (making sixteen parties in all in a 42-member house) - with similar over-representation of tiny parties in the ten cantonal assemblies in the Federation. The consequence of this procedure is that electoral success or failure is not adequately reflected in the distribution of seats, and that the possibilities for forming unnatural and unstable coalitions are almost unlimited. For the full results in seats, see news item posted on 11 November on Bosnian Institute website at www.bosnia.org.uk - they will be published in the next issue of Bosnia Report, when all the percentages are available, and when just possibly ruling coalitions will have been formed.

 

B-H Human Rights Chamber rules on complaint filed on behalf of four former Bosnian citizens of middle-eastern origin (so-called ‘Algerian’ group) that decision to surrender them to US authorities, who later deported them to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, violated their rights. Chamber orders B-H authorities to provide all necessary legal aid to deportees.

12 October 2002

SFOR troops raid Orao military aircraft equipment factory in Bijeljina and find documents showing that, in conjunction with the Belgrade-registered state company Jugoimport, it had been exporting aircraft parts to Iraq, in contravention of a UN arms embargo.

13 October 2002

Second round of presidential elections in Serbia declared invalid, because of turnout of less than 50%. Fresh presidential elections to be held in December.

20 October 2002

Parliamentary elections in Montenegro result in a major victory for the ‘Democratic List for a European Montenegro’ coalition between Milo Djukanovic’s DPS and the social-democrat SDP, which wins absolute majority of 39 seats in 75-seat assembly, with 30 going to pro-Belgrade parties, 4 to Liberals (who had joined the latter in an anti-Djukanovic pact) and 2 to an ethnic Albanian party.

21 October 2002

High Representative Ashdown removes Munir Alibabic from post of director of B-H Federation Intelligence Service (FOSS), ostensibly for abusing his position in an attempt to influence course of election campaign.

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