|Ex-Bosnian vice president Ejup Ganic arrived yesterday at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court with his daughter Emina. (Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)|
Hearing opens in UK for ex-Bosnian leader
LONDON — A former Bosnian vice president arrested on war crimes charges objected yesterday to his potential extradition from Britain to Serbia, saying authorities in Belgrade won’t give him a fair trial.
Ejup Ganic told reporters outside a London court that Serbia’s extradition request was politically motivated and distorted facts. He made the comments as a hearing opened to determine whether he should be sent to Belgrade to be prosecuted for atrocities he allegedly committed in 1992 during the Bosnian conflict.
“They are trying to confuse the British judicial system, to say: ‘We are an organized country that can give a fair trial,’ ’’ he said.
Ganic was arrested by British authorities at London’s Heathrow Airport in March on a Serbian warrant accusing Ganic of ordering attacks on a hospital and retreating Serb soldiers in May 1992 in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.
Ganic denies the claims, and current Bosnian leaders insist the charges are part of a campaign to minimize Serb guilt for the 1992-95 war that tore apart the Balkans.
The court will take weeks to decide on his extradition.
The former leader’s arrest has reignited tensions between former foes Bosnia and Serbia, which have been making slow progress toward reconciliation after the end of the conflict.
The two sides still dispute blame in the conflict, and thousands of Bosnians gathered in March in Sarajevo to accuse Serbia of lying about its history.
“They hope to rewrite history because this is a country that committed genocide,’’ Ganic said of Serbia.
Lawyer James Lewis, representing Serbia’s government, used videos, maps, and witness statements to outline a series of clashes in Sarajevo in 1992 that he said Ganic had ordered.
Bosnian leader Haris Silajdzic says there is no evidence against Ganic. Some of the allegations had been investigated by the UN War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague, but prosecutors there decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.