UN dismisses two Bosnian Serb police officers, including one linked to war crimes

UN dismisses two Bosnian Serb police officers, including one linked to war crimes

Two Serb police officers, including one with alleged links to wartime atrocities, were removed from duty in the Republika Srpska and banned from any future police work, the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) announced today.

Milojko Kovacevic, sector leader in the Visegrad police, had his provisional authorization to exercise police powers removed after it was determined that he had participated in a brutal campaign by paramilitary troops to destroy villages, kill hundreds of non-Serb civilians and arrest and detain non-Serb civilians in various facilities following the establishment of the "Serbian Municipality of Visegrad."

“Specifically, [Mr. Kovacevic] was identified as having been involved in burning houses and killings in several villages in the surroundings of Visegrad,” according to a statement released by UNMIBH in Sarajevo. He was also found to have served as the leader of an operation in June 1992, “in which civilians from the village of Veletovo were rounded up with the supposed intention of being transported to [the former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonia. Seven of these detainees were later found in a mass grave located at Ivo Polje.”

Bosnian authorities have begun a criminal investigation into Mr. Kovacevic's wartime conduct, and have received approval to criminally prosecute him, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Jovan Cokorilo, Chief of the Trebinje Public Security Centre at the time, was found responsible for the failure of the Trebinje Police to respond appropriately to violence directed against those attending a ceremony last May at a mosque in the town, UNMIBH said.

In other news, a former Bosnian Serb army captain wanted for genocide, Momir Nikolic, was transferred today to the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague following his arrest by the international security force on Monday in Repovac, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to the indictment, Mr. Nikolic was involved in the 1995 shelling of the Srebrenica enclave and attack against Dutch-manned UN observation posts located there, as the Assistant Commander (Chief) for Security and Intelligence of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) Bratunac Brigade, which directly participated in the actual capture of the safe haven.

The indictment alleges that Mr. Nikolic, together with other VRS and Ministry of the Interior officers and units, was a member of and knowingly participated in a joint criminal enterprise to forcibly transfer the women and children from the Srebrenica enclave to Kladanj on 12 and 13 July 1995 and to capture, detain, summarily execute by firing squad, bury and rebury thousands of Bosnian Muslims men and boys aged 16 to 60 from the Srebrenica enclave.

Mr. Nikolic is scheduled to make his initial appearance before the court on 3 April.