Bosnia forms Sarajevo war crimes commission

SARAJEVO- Bosnian Prime Minister Adnan Terzic bowed to Bosnian Serb pressure on Thursday and formed a commission to investigate crimes against Serbs and other ethnic groups in Sarajevo during the 1992-95 war.

The government’s decision comes a day after Serb

deputies walked out of the central parliament in protest at Terzic’s refusal to form the body. The assembly voted that it be established in 2004.

Terzic, an ethnic Muslim, had said last week he only supported the forming of a state commission to investigate all crimes throughout the country which prompted a Bosnian Serb backlash who say Serb Sarajevo victims are being marginalised.

Terzic said after a government session that he changed his stance, although he still deeply disagreed with the parliament’s decision, in order to avoid a political crisis ahead of October general elections that would stall ongoing reforms.

“Therefore I have decided to roll back on my pledge and decided that we form the commission,” he told a news conference.

The government will appoint the commission’s 10 members at its next session. It will investigate crimes in both Serb and Muslim-held parts of Sarajevo.

Norwegian government-backed research by the Sarajevo-based Investigation-Documentation Centre last year said about 14,000 people were killed in the Sarajevo area during the war.

Of this, more than 10,000 people — mostly Muslims but also Croats and Serbs — were killed in the Muslim-held part of Sarajevo during the 43-month Serb siege in fighting but also in indiscriminate shelling and sniper attacks on civilians.

Some non-Muslims were also killed by ethnic militias and gangs run by warlords that helped organise the city’s resistance early in the war but later slipped out of control to establish their own fiefdoms, running smuggling and racketeering rings.

Some of these crimes have been prosecuted.

But Sarajevo-based war crimes investigators say the number of Serb victims in the Muslim-controlled part is much smaller than the figures put forward by the Serb Republic government and some Serb researchers that vary from 2,500 to 10,000.

Former Bosnia peace overseer Paddy Ashdown forced the Serb Republic to produce a 2004 report that acknowledged the July 1995 Serb massacre of about 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica.