One of the most popular Bosniak war commanders, General Atif Dudaković, was arrested on Friday early morning, along with 12 other members of former 5. Corps of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The arrest was ordered by the BiH Prosecution Office that confirmed that this group, allegedly, committed war crimes against Serbs and Bosniaks in Western BiH.
“The conducted operation was the result of a long-lasting and thorough investigation of the Special War Crimes Department of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, during which hundreds of witnesses were examined and several hundred pieces of evidence were collected, including the archived documents, videos, as well as evidence related to the exhumations and identification of the killed persons.
The war crimes that are the subject of the investigation are related to the killings of hundreds of victims, civilians and captured Bosnian Serb soldiers from the area of the West-Krajina during 1995, as well as war crimes against the civilian population of Bosniak nationality, members of the Autonomous Province West Bosnia during 1994”, the Prosecution Office said in press release.
During the 1992-1995 war, the western BiH region was under the control of three military groups – the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (A RBiH), the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) and the Army of the Autonomous Province of the Western Bosnia (A AP ZBiH). A RBiH was mostly Bosniak, loyal to Sarajevo command and Alija Izetbegović, VRS was the Serb army under the command of Ratko Mladić and the A AP ZBiH mostly consisted of Bosniaks but those who did not recognise the Sarajevo command but rather that of Fikret Abdić, aka “Babo” (“Father”). That means that Dudaković and the 5. corps under his control had to fight on two fronts – against the VRS but also against the A AP ZBiH.
The investigation for the case in question lasted for 12 years and began with a joint criminal complaint signed by Dragan Čavić and Milorad Dodik, RS president and PM respectively, in that time. Since then, there was no news about its progress until the arrest on Friday morning. In the past decade, on several occasions, Dudaković had stated that he and soldiers under his control had not committed war crimes and that they were defending Bosniaks from genocide.
As it was expected, reactions related to his arrest in BiH differ, depending on each person’s nationality. RS president, Milorad Dodik, said that Dudaković’s arrest has not come late law wise, since war crime cases are timeless. But, he finds it is dealt with quite late justice wise.
“The descendants of Dudaković’s victims have been waiting for justice for more than 20 years. In the meantime, many have died, and so have dozens of witnesses of his brutal crimes. It has been 12 years since I, together with the then president of Republika Srpska, filed charges of war crimes against Atif Dudakovic, whose ordered crimes had been filmed”, Dodik said to the media.
Recalling that it took BiH Prosecutor’s Office 12 years to identify Atif Dudakovic on the video footage, the president of Srpska has said that he therefore believes that Dudakovic’s arrest, as well as the arrest of other group members, is a farce and the establishment of an artificial balance in the prosecution of war crimes.
BiH Presidency Chairman, Bakir Izetbegović believes that the arrest of Dudaković “is a needless humiliation of people who were available to investigators during the long lasting investigation and regularly responded to all their calls”.
“We are fully committed to prosecuting all war criminals, but we expect BiH’s judicial institutions to resist pressure from policies aimed at creating artificial ethnic balance around committed war crimes, thus trying to change the historical facts and the character of the war in BiH”, a written statement from Izetbegović’s Cabinet reads.
In the statement, Izetbegović has placed his hopes to the court and wishes there will be a fair trial which will find Dudaković and members of the 5. Corps innocent…. / IBNA