War crimes fugitive Zdravko Tolimir transfered to the ICTY

Press release

FIDH and its member organisation in Serbia, Center for Peace and Democracy Development (CPDD), welcome the arrest of Zdravko Tolimir and his transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague (ICTY).

General Zdravko Tolimir, a Bosnian Serb, one of the most wanted war crimes suspects in the Balkans, was finally captured on May 31st, on the Bosnia-Serbia border. On June 1st, he was transfered to the ICTY, where he will await trial.

In February 2005, the ICTY had issued a warrant of arrest against Tolimir accusing him of crimes against humanity and war crimes for genocide and other crimes committed against muslim populations from Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves, between 1992 and 1995. Tolimir was close aide to top war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which at least 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were slaughtered. Tolimir’s capture could speed up the search of Ratko Mladic, who is hiding close to Serbia.

The negotiations for the entry of Serbia into the European Union (EU) were suspended in May 2006 due to the lack of cooperation of the Serbian authorities with ICTY regarding the arrest of Mladic. The EU declared that negotiations could resume if Belgrade gave tangible signs of cooperation with the ICTY by arresting fugitives. Tolimir’s arrest and transfer to the ICTY constitutes a step positive towards renewed cooperation between Serbia and the European Union.

FIDH and CPDD underline the fact that the success of the operation can be partially attributed to the new Serbian government, which promised to provide archives and information to ICTY and to ensure extradition of war criminals. FIDH and CPDD also welcome the fact that, for the first time, Serbia took the initiative to send an official invitation to the Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY Carla Del Ponte.
Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy welcomed the arrest of Zdravko Tolimir and stated that « the EU is, for its part, committed to continuing to support the efforts of the ICTY, including through its military force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, European Union Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina and through concrete measures against those who obstruct the work of the Tribunal » (Cf. press-release of the EU HR Javier SOLANA)

FIDH and CPDD strongly urge the Serbian authorities to co-operate fully with the ICTY by taking all the necessary measures to arrest and transfer to the international Tribunal without any further delay Ratko Mladic, and the indicated individuals who remain fugitives.

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