Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Did the French offer protection to Serb war criminals?

French President Jacques Chirac allegedly guaranteed that Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic would not be transferred to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in exchange for the release of two French hostages in 1995, according to evidence presented at Slobodan Milosevic's trial Wednesday.

Chirac's office issued a firm denial of any negotiations to release the French pilots being held by the Bosnian Serb army in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica.

"There were no negotiations for the liberation of these two pilots," presidential spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said. "These allegations have no relation to reality."

Mladic is one of the court's top two fugitives, along with wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

Milosevic read out parts of a transcript from a telephone conversation between Zoran Lilic, Milosevic's predecessor as president of Yugoslavia, and the army chief of staff, Gen. Momcilo Perisic. It was provided to U.N. prosecutors by an unspecified foreign intelligence service.

From the witness stand, Lilic confirmed the authenticity of the transcript, and said Chirac had gone along with the Yugoslav proposal to protect Mladic, then the head of the Bosnian Serb army, from the court.

In the December 1995 conversation, Lilic and Perisic agreed to write Mladic a guarantee that they wouldn't surrender him to the court in The Hague, and referred to similar promises Chirac had allegedly given earlier.

< email | 7/10/2003 02:30:00 PM | link

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