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Reconstruction of First Mosque in Banja Luka Muftidom Completed
ONASA news agency
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, July 14, 2001
On Saturday, a reconstructed mosque was opened in Bosanska Gradiska, in the local commune Obrovac. The mosque was destroyed in 1993. Security for the ceremony was provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) of the Republic of Srpska, IPTF and SFOR. The ceremony was attended by about one thousand faithful, deputy president of the Federation BH Safet Halilovic, naibu reis of the Islamic Community in BH Ismet ef. Spahic, Banja Luka mufti Edhem ef. Camdzic, imams from Kotor-Varos, Bosanska Dubica, Sanski Most, Brod, Prnjavor and other towns [in Srpska], representatives of the Zagreb Rijaset, and leadership of the municipality Bosanska Gradiska. Besim ef. Seper, chief imam of the Medzlis of Bosanska Gradiska and a member of the council of the Rijaset of the Islamic Community in BH, pointed out that this is the first completely reconstructed mosque in Banja Luka muftidom, and consequently its reconstruction has a lot of significance. He announced that another mosque would be opened on August 11 in Orahova. So far foundations for another mosque in the town have been completed, and the reconstruction of mosques in Orahova, Rovine, and Dubrava are ongoing. The deputy president of the Federation BH was satisfied with the ceremony and understanding shown by the local authorities, and emphasized that BH was "recovering from traumas". Respect for collective and individual rights, with expression of identity can bring BH into the European family of nations, Halilovic said. The reconstruction of the mosque in Bosanska Gradiska was financed by donations of Bosniaks living abroad, and total donations added up to $120,000. The ceremony went without incidents. The local authorities and members of the Republic of Srpska Police acted professionally.
Limits of Power
by Emir HABUL
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, August 3, 2001
The arrest of three officers of the Army of Bosnia-Hercegovina (BH) indicted by the Hague Tribunal, is at the same time politics, an attempt to reach justice, and damnation that all debts in life have to be repaid sooner or later with big interest. In the solitude of a prison cell, when the whole life passes in front of our eyes in a wink, Alagic, Hadzihasanovic and Kubura will not be able to escape the thought that most of those who took the war seriously have ended up dealing with the Hague. They will have to decide to what extent they are victims and to what extent they contributed to their own fate. None of them is a criminal. I am also convinced that they did not plan any crimes. But there are times in life when circumstances turn men into victims of heroes. In this case we could open legalistic and philosophical debate about real limits of command responsibility. On the one hand, there are real crimes; on the other hand, there are individuals who are convinced that they are innocent. The Hague judges will have to weigh those two sides and measure the true power of these officers and their concrete actions with respect to international conventions and rules of military hierarchy. It is a small consolation that the war in BH was not waged according to the book, nor did they had an organized army backed up by an organized state and a clear political idea. The trial will explain, for example, whether Enver Hadzihasanovic, as a figurehead commander of the Crops, had true control of the unit El Mujaheed from Zenica, which could be unpleasant for Bosniak politicians. This general will not be held responsible for what he did, but for what he failed to do. It was very risky in the atmosphere of deluge in 1993, even for a general who had not joined the struggle from the first day to publicly condemn any crime, let alone demand that the culprits be punished. Hadzihasanovic had a chance to see himself in the mirror, welcoming Vehbija Karic, who had his teeth fixed in Zenica after being beaten up by Juka on the Igman Mountain. What would have happened if a general forcefully demanded investigation after every crime committed by his soldiers? He would have probably exposed himself to the risk of being fired. But the names of the perpetrators of crimes would be known and he would not be in the Hague now. Everyone knows that, but now it's too late.
Food for thought
Generals In Hague
by Mirko SAGOLJ
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, August 3, 2001
Generals from Bosnia-Hercegovina have marked in the political and media sense the past week, thanks to the Tribunal for War Crimes in the Hague. Former commander of the Drina Corps of the Army of the Republic of Srpska Radislav Krstic has received the deserved "reward". The Court found him guilty of genocide and sentenced him to 46 years in prison. This is a historic verdict, for two reasons. First, this is the highest sentence issued so far by the Hague Tribunal for War Crimes Committed in the former Yugoslavia, but not the highest sentence at its disposal. Until now the record was held by general of HVO Tihofil Blaskic, sentenced for 40 years in prison for crimes committed against Bosniaks in central Bosnia, especially in Vitez. It could be that justice was not satisfied in general Krstic's case, given the extent of crimes committed in Srebrenica by the soldiers under his command in July 1995. The Hague Tribunal is also using the figure of 7,000 to 8,000 killed residents of Srebrenica, and it is likely that a few thousand more were killed. Everywhere else in the world, only one murder can bring a death sentence, or life prison sentence for the perpetrator, unless there are mitigating circumstances. Court did not find any in case of the crime in Srebrenica, but nevertheless decided not to apply the highest sentence at its disposal - life imprisonment. Victims of the massacre in Srebrenica will definitely not be satisfied by this punishment because even several thousands of life sentences are too little for such a crime. But, this punishment is almost the same as life imprisonment and should be viewed that way. Krstic is now aged 55 and the sentence of 46 years in prison is the same as life imprisonment. Besides, there are at least two criminals greater than Krstic - Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Unless they commit suicide or someone kills them, they will also end up in the Hague, sooner or later. General Draza Mihajlovic also hid deep underground in the same region where Karadzic and Mladic are hiding now, but he was delivered to the state authorities by his collaborator Kalabic. Why would not, today, among the Serbs, otherwise infamous traitors, there be another Kalabic, if SFOR does not arrest them? The highest sentence is reserved for them because it is important to at least symbolically differentiate sentences based on the degree of guilt. Secondly, Krstic is the first Hague defendant found guilty of genocide committed in Europe after the persecution of Jews in WWII. The court emphasized in its ruling that the attack on Srebrenica was planned and carried out with the goal of expelling all ethnic Bosniaks, and then all military age males were killed. But others need to be tried for Srebrenica, besides Erdemovic and Krstic. Only when in the Hague, on the same bench, we see Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadizc, Ratko Mladic, Momcilo Krajisnik, Biljana Plavsic, and Nikola Koljevic, even dead, justice will be done. The arrest of retired generals of the Army BH Mehmed Alagic and Enver Hadzihasanovic, and active officer, Brigadier Amir Jubura provoked more excitement in the local public than the verdict in Krstic's case. The Hague Tribunal ordered their arrest. Given that they were arrested based on secret indictments, so far we can only guess what the charges are. However, it is not questionable that they were arrested based on command responsibility, for the territory of central Bosnia, where all three of them were on important duties during the war. Obviously the indictment deals with the conflict between Croats and Bosniaks and crimes against Croats in central Bosnia. The arrest of the mentioned officers is an unpleasant fact for the Army BH, and even partly for the Bosniak party that was at the time in power and its leadership, as the Army BH was at that time under the command of the SDA. It is undeniable that the Bosniak people suffered the most during the war, and that the Army BH committed the least number of crimes against non-Bosniaks. BH was attacked, first by the Serb, and then by the Croat side. The goal of the aggression was to split BH between Croatia and Serbia. And in order to carry that out, Bosniaks had to be either exterminated or expelled or thrown into the Neretva River. They had no other choice but to defend themselves. In one conversation, about ten months ago, Alija Izetbegovic told me the following: "You could leave. You had a place to go to. I'm sure you received invitations to leave. We had nowhere to go. No one invited us anywhere. We were forced to defend ourselves." That is the truth. However, it is also true that the Bosniak leadership, apart from a few exemptions, did not allow mass crimes against non-Bosniaks. It even on its own took care of the commanders of the Army BH, like Caco, who committed crimes, which the other two warring sides did not do. However, it also cannot be denied that members of the Army BH also committed crimes against Croats during the conflict, for which the arrested generals have been indicted. In the valleys of the rivers Neretva, Neretvica, and Rama and in the Zenica and Travnik regions. If those crimes were committed, possibly, out of fear, and in self-defense, someone must be held responsible for them. Even if someone exceeded what is permitted by necessary self-defense, that is a crime. The sentence will probably be lenient, most likely a probation, but every crime must get its culprit. Crimes against Croats in central Bosnia, as well, just like the crime against Bosniaks in Vitez already did. So that it is never repeated.
by Emir HABUL
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, August 7, 2001
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement in which it claims that the media, especially those from the Republic of Srpska, carried a non-existent statement by Zlatko Lagumdzija from the press conference held a day after the arrest of Bosniak officers. The MFA denies the headline from Banja Luka newspapers claiming that "the authorities in BH and FBH have hired lawyers for the indicted officers" which was based on the statement of the Minister who said that "a lawyer has been hired to assist these men on behalf of BH and the Federation BH government(...)" etc. This is a classic discrepancy between what politicians meant and the way in which the statement is interpreted. The denial now clearly explains that the authorities only intended to hire lawyers as "first aid" until the indicted officers select their defense attorneys who will defend them in front of the Tribunal, but even that is politically questionable. The gesture with lawyers and, later, "just let me know if I can do anything to help you", which was publicized by Avaz, which have the taste of attempts to please the Bosniak public, can to a certain extent be forgiven as a consequence of confusion in a delicate situation after the first delivery of indicted Bosniaks to the Hague. Sejfudin Tokic described the first statements of the leader of his party, the SDP, as "hasty" and "of personal nature". The arrest of Bosniak officers and controversial statements (and their echo in the public) open the issue of the need for and degree of engagement of the state in such a situation. In general, the state has no business hiring lawyers to "on behalf of Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Federation BH government assist the indicted officers". What is the purpose of the officer for contacts with the Hague Tribunal if she is not supposed to be the first contact between the indicted individuals, local authorities and the Tribunal? There is no need for extra concern because the indicted individuals have the guaranteed right to defense and choice of their defense attorneys who are, this is not unimportant, paid by the tribunal. With his hasty statements, Lagumdzija did harm to himself. He pushed ammunition to the hands of Serb extremists and they are now thundering: here, look who is protected by state institutions! The denial from the MFA will not fix the damage already done.
Translated on April 9, 2002