Stojan Župljanin, one of the four top remaining war crimes suspects from the 1990s Balkan Wars wanted by the International War Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) based in The Hague, was arrested on Wednesday near Belgrade, the Serbian capital. The ICTY had been seeking Župljanin since 1999 and the US government had even offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to Zupljanin's arrest or conviction. The Balkan blogosphere has been abuzz with the news.
The Srebrenica Genocide Blog described the ICTY indictment against Župljanin:
Zupljanin, 56, who commanded Bosnian Serb police during the Bosnian Serb war in the mid-1990s, was initially charged with genocide, but that was later amended to crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and violations of the laws or customs of war.
The indictment against Zupljanin says he planned, ordered, or carried out the persecution of Bosniaks, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serbs in 1992. Forces under his command, the indictment says, were responsible for killing, torturing, raping and attacking non-Serbs in towns and villages.
The indictment also alleges that Zupljanin ordered the unlawful detention of people in prison camps which lacked adequate shelter, food, water, or medical care, and he is also charged with torture.
The Srebrenica Genocide Blog, Blog de veille sur les droits de l'homme en Serbie [Fr] and Samaha reported that at the moment of his arrest Stojan Župljanin claimed to be a certain Branislav Vukadin and showed documentation under that name, but subsequent DNA tests proved his identity. And Samaha (who also recommends watching the movie The Hunting Party, based on true events of chasing a war criminal in Bosnia) adds:
Mladic, Karadzic and Hadzic .. your time is running out.
Douglas Muir at A Fistful of Euros is a bit more skeptical than Samaha about the arrest of the other top suspects:
Personally I’d be very surprised if any of these three are caught, but then I’ve just been pleasantly surprised by Zupljanin’s arrest. Certainly I’d love to be wrong!
The blog How Bosnian and Balkan Wars Started posted an article by Agence France Presse describing the positive reactions of Bosniak leaders to the arrest, “as a possible sign of Serbia’s readiness to extradite remaining fugitives.”
Eric Gordy of East Ethnia also welcomed the arrest as a step forward for Serbia's EU integration:
…that leaves three more people indicted for war crimes on the list to be arrested: Ratko Mladić, Radovan Karadžić, and Goran Hadžić. That will take care of one of the principal conditions for ratification of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Serbia. If the country succeeded in improving its wine and becoming a global tennis superpower, surely it can make that extra step.
In one of the comments to his post, Steve Albert gave his opinion:
The thing is, it is Karadzic and Mladic that count. If Župljanin can be apprehended, so can Mladic. That is the real test as to whether Serbia is ready to meet the E.U.'s conditions for membership.
B92 blogger Hugh Griffiths offers an interpretation of the arrest coming at this particular moment in time:
… that Kostunica is finished became clear today when the secret police cast their very public vote by arresting indicted war criminal Stojan Zupljanin.
For if Kostunica and his mates the Radicals were going to form the next government, you can be sure that those who listen to the mobile phone conversations of criminals and politicians alike would never have arrested a war crimes indictee days before a Radical dominated government takes power, given the stated Radical election pledge that if they were to form the next government, no more fugitives would be sent to the Hague.
So there's clearly been a Eurovision moment and the writing is on Dedinje's walls. War crimes arrests = “For a European Serbia” forming the next government…
However, YakimaGulagLiteraryGazett, in a post titled “Yes, they can bust people when they WANT to,” states:
I don't see a coincidence here, and neither do many others where I am…