bosnia report
No. 14 February - March 1996

'A sniper fires at NATO's headquarters in Ilidza ... hours later, NATO troops, accompanied by Bosnian Serb police, visit the apartment identified by a NATO sentry as the firing point, and find a man armed with a sniper rifle, two assault rifles and a grenade. NATO officials report the successful arrest of the suspected sniper on Saturday morning. They do not report his immediate release by the Ilidza police [allowed to remain in place after 3 February by High Represenative Carl Bildt, in contravention of the Dayton agreement], who have a hard-earned reputation as a corrupt and lawless force with no liking for the NATO troops responsible for enforcing their defeat at Dayton. The International Police Task Force is present at the arrest - or so NATO says. The Task Force spokesman has no knowledge of the incident, and is unable to extract any details from the boys in UN blue. NATO responds to the release of the man thought to have fired at its troops with glorious sangfroid - and only when asked about it. 'Presumably [the Ilidza police] didn't consider there were grounds on which to arrest him,' Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Rayner, a NATO spokesman, told the Independent'.

Emma Daly, Independent, 13 February 1996.


'[Refugees] are going to be coming into areas that have been destroyed. That's going to make them angry. They are going to be coming into areas where they are not accepted. That's going to make them angry. All those people have got guns so they will just start shooting somebody'.

IFOR Commander Admiral Leighton-Smith, suggesting that returning refugees, rather than the nationalist forces that purged them, may be a source of conflict : Reuters, 1 February, 1996.


NATO officials said that soldiers in the field did not have sufficient material to identify and detain any of the 52 ÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌàpeople indicted as war criminals.

'We are in a difficult situation', said one NATO official. 'If we arrest one Serbian war criminal, we must turn around and arrest one Muslim or Croat criminal to maintain our impartiality. We can't go out and round people up without this whole thing collapsing.' 'IFOR troops have the authority, but not the obligation, to detail indicted war criminals.' a spokesman for the NATO-led force, Colonel Mark Rayner said Monday.

International Herald-Tribune, 13 February 1996.


Q : If your obligation under Dayton as you've admitted is to apprehend these [indicted war criminals] if they come your way and in course of your duties, the only way you can apprehend them is if the average soldier on the ground knows what they look like and has been given some briefing about his obligations and his responsibilities. Have they been briefed and told what to do or are you looking the other way, taking a step down the road of not apprehending them?

IFOR Spokesman Lt Col. Mark Rayner: They know to apprehend an indicted war criminal if they come across one naturally in the course of their duties and that is the extent of their instructions.

Q : Have they been given photographs so they recognize these individuals?

Rayner: No they haven't. That would send a confusing message to a soldier, wouldn't it? If you toll a soldier on the one hand that you are not here to hunt down indicted war criminals and then on the other hand you give him a photograph which helps him to do just that, that would send a confusing message and one thing NATO is clear of is the clarity of our mission on that purpose and it is not to confuse the soldiers to whom we give very clear instructions.

Q : I'm sorry, but I don't know how the 60,000 soldiers here would know who was a war criminal or who was not if they didn't have a photograph.

Rayner: And you're right, they don't. They won't necessarily recognize a war criminal or know that they have bumped into one, you're absolutely right and they can't be expected to.


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