Allies in Bosnia Committed to Justice
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 27, 1998 The United States is committed to bringing indicted Yugoslavian war criminals to justice as are all allies taking part in the stabilization force in Bosnia, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said April 23.
Bacon was responding to reporters questions prompted by a Washington Post story which alleged a senior French officer may have warned former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic of an allied plan to capture him. Karadzic is an indicted war criminal.
A statement from the French Defense Ministry denied the officer gave any information to Karadzic and did not confirm or deny the officer met with the Bosnian Serb leader. The statement said "a French officer maintained various contacts consonant with his orders. As soon as the course of these contacts could have appeared questionable, this officer was immediately given a new assignment in France."
Bacon would not comment on military operations. "I can tell you it's very clear from our statements and from our acts that we are determined to help the appropriate agencies bring indicted war criminals to justice," he said.
The stabilization force has had a good record in bringing indicted war criminals to justice, Bacon said. SFOR troops have captured a number of alleged war criminals and more than a dozen "have seen the handwriting on the wall" and turned themselves in. "[The indicted war criminals] have seen that the members of SFOR are, in fact, serious," he said. "They've seen that the International War Crimes Tribunal [in The Hague, Netherlands] is serious about trying to bring indicted war criminals to justice."
He said progress has been made and he expects it to continue.
Bacon said about 3,000 French troops are part of SFOR. "We work closely with the French in Bosnia and elsewhere," he said. "... Our relationships with them are good. They're a fundamentally important part of SFOR. We work closely with them in the SFOR context. Gen. [Wesley] Clark [supreme allied commander, Europe] thinks the French are doing a good job in SFOR."