Bosnian ex-leader fights extradition attempt in Britain

5th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Former Bosnian president Ejup Ganic said Monday it would be impossible for him to receive a fair trial in Serbia as his extradition hearing began in London.

Lawyers acting for Serbia stated Ganic was guilty of a "clear war crime" in ordering a series of atrocities in Sarajevo in May 1992 and must face justice.

Ganic, 64, denies he was responsible for the attacks and is fighting extradition.

Prosecutor James Lewis detailed Serbia's claims that in the midst of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Ganic ordered attacks on a Yugoslav army officers' club, a convoy of ambulances and later on a retreating army convoy.

Serbia also alleges that soldiers who had surrendered were executed.

"We say on the face of it that is a clear war crime. It is an attack on ambulances and it is an attack on people who have surrendered," Lewis told the hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Ganic was arrested at London's Heathrow airport on March 1 on an extradition warrant from Serbia for alleged war crimes but was subsequently released on bail, although he must comply with strict conditions.

Outside court, Ganic said Serbia's extradition case was politically motivated.

"They hope to rewrite history because this is a country that committed genocide. It is 18 years after these events and there were hundreds and hundreds of incidents of this kind," he said.

"They (Serbia) are trying to confuse the British judicial system, to say, 'We are an organised country that can give a fair trial'."

Last year, a Belgrade court indicted Ganic and 18 other people over their alleged roles in the killings of a total of 42 soldiers, which were illegal under the Geneva Convention.

But Ganic's daughter Emina told AFP the family were sure the extradition proceedings would be dropped at the end of the hearing, which is expected to last until Wednesday next week.

"We have seen the evidence and we are confident," she said.

Lewis said it was not the London court's job to decide if Ganic was guilty, but to establish whether or not Ganic had a case to answer.

The lawyer argued that it was inconceivable that the Bosnian leadership would have been unaware that the Yugoslav army convoy was moving through the streets.

He said the prosecution would present as evidence radio intercepts in which Ganic gave orders to the Bosnian army commanders on the ground. A survivor of the attack on the convoy will be called as a witness.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the hearing, holding banners saying: "Ganic -- blood on his hands" and "Bosnian president war criminal".

The case resumes on Wednesday.

© 2010 AFP

0 Comments To This Article