Former Bosnian Presidency member charged with war crimes

The Bosnian prosecutorial authorities confirmed on Thursday having indicted former Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency member Borislav Paravac and four other persons for war crimes committed in a persecution campaign against Croats and Bosniaks (Muslims) in the northern town of Doboj during the 1992-95 war.

Under the indictment, at the beginning of the war in the country, 72-year-old Paravac headed a local crisis management office in Doboj, established by the Serb Democratic Party (SDS).

The office was a crucial instrument of Bosnian Serb civil authorities when they started the persecution of local Croats and Bosniaks who before the war accounted for 53% of the local population which numbered slightly more than 100,000.

After the war, Paravac remained a senior SDS official and as its member was appointed in 2003 the Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina tripartite Presidency, after the then international community's High Representative in the country, Paddy Ashdown, replaced from that post Mirko Sarovic, who is today the country's minister of foreign trade and economic relations.

After his term expired in 2006, Paravac retired and has lived in Doboj since. He was outside the public eye for years.

Paravac was indicted as a result of an investigation launched by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Indictments were also issued against 72-year-old Milan Ninkovic, who during the war was defence minister in the Bosnian Serb government, against 61-year-old Andrija Bjelosevic, the wartime police commander in Doboj, and his wartime deputy, 63-year-old Milan Savic.

The indictees were the highest Bosnian Serb officials in the area of Doboj in 1992 and 1993.

The indictment charges them with crimes against humanity, more specifically participation in widespread and systematic attacks on non-Serb civilians.

The four accused are charged with killings and expulsion of civilians, the unlawful detention, mistreatment and robbery of dozens of thousands of Croats and Bosniaks from Doboj and Teslic.

They are charged with organising attacks by army, police and paramilitary units on Croat and Bosniak settlements. In those attacks, several hundred civilians were killed. The remains of only some of those victims have been found in mass graves and the search for the remains of others continues.

The four accused are also charged with the destruction of a large number of Croat and Bosniak religious and cultural buildings in Doboj and Teslic, including protected monuments.

The prosecutors are expected to call 214 witnesses and experts to testify in the trial.

Last update: Thu, 31/12/2015 - 14:15

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