Migrant Crushed By Train, Two Others Found Dead In Bosnia

 

Two men believed to be migrants were found dead, including one who was hit by a train, in northwest Bosnia where thousands of migrants have been massing near the EU border, police said Thursday.

Since 2018 Bosnia has become a key transit country on a route funnelling migrants towards Western Europe.

“A person was hit by a train last night in Bihac and another person’s body was found Wednesday in a house under construction in Velika Kladusa,” Ale Siljdedic, a regional police spokesman, told AFP.

“We assume they are migrants,” he said, while adding that the two men’s nationalities have not been established yet.

According to one witness, the man killed by the train had fallen asleep on the rails, said Siljdedic.

Migrants trudging across Bosnia’s rugged terrain often follow train tracks to guide their path towards the western border with Croatia, a member state of the European Union.

The man found dead in Velika Kladusa had head injuries and police are still investigating whether it was an assault or  accident.

Earlier in the week on Monday night, an Algerian migrant died of stabbing wounds in an assault police believe was carried out by fellow migrants.

Some 5,000 migrants are currently based in Bosnia’s northwest canton of Bihac.

Around 3,500 are living in reception centres while the rest have found other types of shelter, according to police.

Nearly 20,000 have been registered in the canton since the beginning of the year, said Siljdedic, a figure approaching the 25,000 migrants who crossed the country last year.

“We have been registering at least a hundred new migrants who arrive in the canton every day for the past month,” he told AFP.

Recently, many of the migrants have been Pakistanis and Algerians entering Bosnia from Serbia or Montenegro.

Bosnian police estimate that some 15,000 have already managed to slip into Croatia this year, despite a surge in police presence on the Croatian side.

More than a dozen migrants have died in the area since 2018, mainly through accidents.

AFP

Dzeko Becomes First Bosnian To Reach 100 Caps

Dzeko Makes History With 100 Bosnia Caps

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina captain Edin Dzeko became the first player from his country to reach 100 international caps in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier against Armenia on Saturday.

A brief ceremony was held before the game in Sarajevo to honour the striker, who is also his country’s record scorer with 55 goals.

The 33-year-old was presented with a shirt bearing the number ‘100’, and a bouquet of flowers.

“It’s definitely a special match for me, because it’s the 100th, and more so at my stadium, where I started my career,” said Dzeko, whose first club was Bosnian outfit Zaljeznicar.

He made his Bosnia debut on June 2, 2007.

Dzeko is currently playing his club football for Italian giants Roma, having previously won two English Premier League titles with Manchester City and a German Bundesliga crown while at Wolfsburg.

AFP

Prosinecki To Become Bosnia’s National Coach

Prosinecki To Become Bosnia's National Coach
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 12, 2015, then Azerbaijan’s Coratian coach Robert Prosinecki gestures during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group H qualifying football match Norway v Azerbaijan in Oslo, on June 12, 2015. Audun BRAASTAD / NTB SCANPIX / AFP

 

Former Croatia star Robert Prosinecki was appointed as the new coach of Bosnia’s national team on Thursday, replacing Mehmed Bazdarevic following his failure in World Cup qualifiers.

The 49-year old was picked “unanimously” by the Bosnia Football Federation’s executive committee, its vice president Milorad Sofrenic told reporters.

Prosinecki’s international experience was key to the decision, according to Sofrenic.

“I am happy to be able to lead a team of such a quality. I know Bosnia very well, it has players of great quality and huge potential,” Prosinecki told N1 television channel in Zagreb.

“Obviously, the goal is to go to a big competition. The next one is Euro 2020. I believe that we will make good results and we can qualify,” he said.

A former star of both Real Madrid and Barcelona, Prosinecki was also assistant coach to Croatia’s national team from 2006 to 2010 and Azerbaijan’s coach from 2014 to 2017.

Prosinecki should sign his contract in the coming days, shortly before friendly matches against the United States and Mexico in late January.

“The contract will include the Euro 2020 qualifiers and we hope the finals,” said Jasmin Bakovic, the federation’s general secretary.

After retiring as a player in 2005, from 2010 to 2012 Prosinecki also coached Red Star Belgrade, the club with which he won the Champions League in 1991 — the biggest trophy ever won in the history of Yugoslav football.

Since becoming independent in 1992, Bosnia have only qualified for the final phase of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. At the time the national team was led by Safet Susic, who was replaced by Bazdarevic in late 2014.

Up against Prosinecki for the coaching job was Amar Osim, son of another football legend of the region, Ivica Osim.

AFP

Private Funeral For War Criminal Praljak, Lawyer Says

This combination of pictures created on November 29, 2017 shows videograbs taken from live footage of the International Criminal Court, of Croatian former general Slobodan Praljak swallowing what is believed to be poison, during his judgment at the UN war crimes court to protest the upholding of a 20-year jail term. PHOTO: International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia / AFP

Bosnian Croat war criminal Slobodan Praljak, who killed himself in front of UN judges in The Hague this week, will have a private funeral, his lawyer said Saturday.

Praljak, in dramatic scenes Wednesday, swallowed poison before the UN tribunal judges, just moments after they upheld his 20-year jail sentence.

The 72-year-old was rushed to a hospital, where he died the same day.

The preliminary results of an autopsy showed Friday that Praljak likely died from heart failure after swallowing potassium cyanide.

In a sealed letter handed over to his family a few years ago, to be opened when he dies, Praljak said he wanted that his funeral be a private one, his lawyer Nika Pinter told AFP.

“The letter was in no way linked with what happened Wednesday,” she stressed without revealing its details.

“We (Praljak and lawyer) were talking about how once a person turns 60 one needs to look back and settle some things,” she commented.

The Vecernji list daily reported earlier that Praljak wanted to be cremated at Zagreb’s main Mirogoj cemetery and his ashes scattered there.

“I believe he did not want that his funeral possibly turns into a mass gathering, a circus … to avoid possible abuse” for political goals, Pinter said.

“He simply wanted to remain with his family.”

The lawyer said she had no knowledge on when Praljak’s body would be transferred from The Netherlands.

A Dutch judge informed her that a letter addressed to her was also found in Praljak’s cell.

It will be handed over to Pinter once the probe into his death is over.

The Bosnian Croat commander, who worked in film and theatre before joining the military, remains a hero to many Croats despite his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity during Bosnia’s 1990s conflict.

The judges confirmed that Praljak and his five Bosnian Croat co-defendants were part of a “joint criminal enterprise” to ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims in the war.

Their convictions were upheld for crimes including murder, persecution and inhumane treatment.

Since Praljak’s death, Croats have paid multiple tributes to the late general, laying flowers and lighting candles in town squares in Croatia and Bosnia.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said earlier that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) verdict was one of “deep moral injustice.”

AFP

In Final Verdict, UN Court To Rule In Bosnian Croats Appeal

UN judges on Wednesday deliver their last ever verdict for war crimes committed in the 1990s Bosnian conflict, in the appeal case of six former Bosnian Croat political and military leaders.

The appeals verdict comes a week after the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) jailed top Bosnian Serb ex-commander Ratko Mladic for life on 10 charges of genocide and war crimes, and will draw the curtain on more than two decades of work.

On Wednesday, the judges sitting in The Hague will rule in the appeal brought by ex-prime minister of the breakaway statelet of Herceg-Bosna, Jadranko Prlic, and five others against their 2013 conviction and sentences ranging from 10 to 25 years in jail.

All six guilty were found guilty of taking part in a scheme to remove Bosnian Muslims “permanently and create a Croatian territory”, which included the southern city of Mostar besieged for nine months.

The bloody 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, in which 100,000 people died and 2.2 million were displaced, mainly pitted Bosnian Muslims against Bosnian Serbs, but also saw some brutal fighting between Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats.

– ‘Massive crimes’ –

Prlic, 58, was sentenced to 25 years on 26 charges of aiding and abetting the murder, deportation and harsh detention of Muslims in eight municipalities and a network of detention centres.

He has vehemently denied the charges, telling five appeals judges in March he “was not part of the chain of command” of the main Bosnian-Croat army in Bosnia, the HVO.

But Croatian communities needed to organise themselves, militarily as well, as the Bosnian Republic had not defended them, he said.

The prosecution has also appealed, urging judges to impose 40-year terms on Prlic and three co-defendants, saying the “crimes were massive in scale.”

“Tens of thousands of Muslims were evicted from their homes… thousands were arrested and detained in awful conditions,” said prosecutor Barbara Goy.

“Muslims were killed during attacks or when forced to work on the front-lines. They were raped, they were sexually assaulted. Muslim houses and mosques were destroyed,” she said.

Prlic has been on trial since 2006, along with his co-defendants former defence minister Bruno Stojic, 62, and four other military officials: Slobodan Praljak, 72, Milivoj Petkovic, 68, Valentin Coric, 61, and Berislav Pusic, 65.

Praljak was specifically charged with ordering the destruction of Mostar’s 16th-century bridge in November 1993, which judges said “caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population”. The bridge was rebuilt in 2004.

Wednesday’s verdict is the last at the ICTY set up in 1993 by the UN to prosecute those behind the Balkans conflicts.

Chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told AFP it was “an important judgement … there is a lot of attention coming from the Croatian community in relation to this case, also from Zagreb.”

The Prlic case was one of the court’s most complex. A total of 326 witnesses testified and almost 10,000 exhibits were presented.

– ‘Reunification plan’ –

In the 2,629-page judgement, judges said the six men were part of a plan to ultimately reunify with or have very close ties with Croatia.

“The crimes committed were not the random acts of a few unruly soldiers” but aimed “to permanently remove the Muslim population from Herceg-Bosna,” they said.

This was achieved “by conducting mass arrests of Bosnian Muslims who were then either murdered, beaten, sexually assaulted, robbed of their property and otherwise abused”.

In one example, Bosnian Croat soldiers forced a detained Muslim to lick his own blood from the floor so it would “not remain in Herceg-Bosna.”

Then ICTY prosecutor Kenneth Scott told AFP in 2013 the ruling had been “the first time the court was very clear on the significant role played” in the conflict by Croatia’s first president, the late Franjo Tudjman.

Tudjman died in 1999 and was never indicted.

Herceg-Bosna was proclaimed in August 1993, but dissolved in 1995 just before the Dayton peace accords that ended the war, and integrated with the Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska to become Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The defendants all surrendered in 2004, with Croatia under pressure to cooperate with the ICTY as a condition for joining the European Union.

AFP

‘Butcher of Bosnia’ Found Guilty Of Genocide

This combination of pictures created on November 22, 2017, shows (L) Ratko Mladic then Bosnian Serb General looking on in Sarajevo on February 15, 1994, and (R) Mladic smiling as he enters the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), on November 22, 2017, to hear the verdict in his genocide trial. PASCAL GUYOT, Peter Dejong / AFP

 

 

United Nation judges on Wednesday sentenced former Bosnian Serbian commander Ratko Mladic to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of genocide and war crimes in the brutal Balkans conflicts over two decades ago.

The trial of the man dubbed “The Butcher of Bosnia” was the last before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and comes as the court prepares to close its doors next month.

The court found him guilty on 10 counts including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the 1992-1995 war that killed 100,000 people and displaced 2.2 million as ethnic rivalries tore apart Yugoslavia. But they found him not guilty of genocide in the municipalities.

“For having committed these crimes, the chamber sentences Mr Ratko Mladic to life imprisonnement,” presiding judge Alphons Orie said, adding the crimes were “amongst the most heinous known to human kind”.

After rumours he would not attend the hearing, the former general, 74, who once cut a swathe of fear against Bosnia, gave a thumbs-up as he entered the courtroom in The Hague.

But in extraordinary scenes he was ordered to be dragged from the court, when in an outburst he accused the judges of lying, after they refused to adjourn because he had high-blood pressure.

“The circumstances were brutal. Those who tried to defend their homes were met with ruthless force. Mass executions occurred and some victims succumbed after being beaten,” Orie said, outlining the facts of the case against Mladic.

“Many of the perpetrators who had captured Bosnian Muslims showed little or no respect for human life, or dignity.”

‘Guilty of all’

Wednesday’s verdict has been long awaited by tens of thousands of victims across the bitterly-divided region, and dozens gathered early outside the courtroom in The Hague, many clutching photos of loved ones who died or are among the 7,000 still missing.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina: No impunity for war criminals!”, read one banner, while another had a picture of Mladic with a human skull saying: “Guilty of all!”

“We will see today. Will he be found guilty or will he be seen as a hero?” Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica, told AFP before the verdict.

Prosecutors said Mladic and his political counterpart Radovan Karadzic sought through ethnic cleansing to “permanently remove” Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from areas claimed by Bosnian Serbs.

Darkest episode

Caught after 16 years on the run, Mladic was found guilty of the 1995 massacre in northeastern Srebrenica, where troops under his command slaughtered almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

The killings, in which the victims were marched away, shot in the back and dumped in mass graves, was one of the darkest episodes in the conflict, and has been called the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.

Once a brutish military commander who strode around in combat fatigues, Mladic was also found guilty of “personally directing” a 44-month campaign of sniping and shelling to terrorise citizens in Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, which left about 10,000 dead.

Mladic was also found guilty of taking hostage more than 200 NATO military personnel and keeping them as human shields to prevent NATO air strikes against the Bosnian Serb army.

Prosecutors had called for a life sentence, after a five-year trial in which almost 600 witnesses testified and more than 10,000 exhibits were presented.

‘Time for justice’

But defence lawyers — who in the past few days filed a flurry of requests to have their ailing client’s health assessed — have slammed his trial as “political”, had called for an acquittal.

After suffering at least three strokes, Mladic has been left with “part paralysis of the entire right side of his body,” lawyer Dragan Ivetic said.

For victims of the atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serb army however, it was time for Mladic to face justice.

Subasic, who said she had begged Mladic to spare her son at Srebrenica, told AFP the truth had to be unveiled.

“We need truth, we need justice. Without justice there’s no trust, without trust there’s no reconciliation,” she said.

For Fikret Alic,a survivor of a Bosnian Serb camp, told AFP: who was in “I hope justice will be done by this verdict, so that people will stop suffering. It will send a message to the world.”

AFP

Mass Grave With Nearly 100 Victims Found In Bosnia

Members of a Bosnian forensic experts and workers team search for human remains, at the site of a newly discovered mass grave in the village of Tugovo, near Eastern-Bosnian town of Vlasenica, on September 13, 2017. ELVIS BARUKCIC / AFP

The remains of nearly 100 people, believed to be Bosnian Muslims and Croats executed in one of the most brutal episodes of the 1990s war, were found in a mass grave, an official said Thursday.

“At the site of Koricanske Stijene we have exhumed 137 clusters of bones, including 86 skulls, which means at least 86 persons, maybe some more,” Lejla Cengic of Bosnia’s Missing Persons Institute told AFP.

“The remains were at the bottom of a cave, in a natural pit, and were covered by an enormous amount of rocks,” Cengic said.

The mass grave in central Bosnia was discovered nearby the site of the August 1992 execution of more than 200 civilians, Bosnian Muslims and Croats, previously evicted by Bosnian Serb forces from the northwestern region of Prijedor.

The massacre was one of the most brutal episodes of the 1992-1995 inter-ethnic war in Bosnia that claimed 100,000 lives.

The victims were separated at Koricanske Stijene from a convoy transporting more than 1,200 people expelled from their homes. They were lined up at the top of a pit and shot at. Dozens of them survived.

To date, eleven wartime members of the Bosnian Serb police forces have been sentenced for the crime.

The exhumation at the site started in early September. The remains will be transported on Friday to a morgue where their identities will be determined by DNA tests, Cengic said.

“In five previous exhumations in this area, conducted between 2003 and 2013, the remains of 117 victims were found and we were searching for 98 more victims,” she said.

In another mass grave, uncovered last week near the eastern town of Vlasenica, remains of 10 victims, probably Bosnian Muslims killed in 1992, were exhumed.

At the end of the war, 31,500 people were reported missing. Since then, the remains of 25,000 victims have been exhumed from hundreds of mass graves, according to the Bosnian institute, leaving 6,500 unaccounted for.

AFP

Keshi Confident That Nigeria Will Reach Round Of 16

KeshiCoach Stephen Keshi says he is optimistic that Nigeria will reach the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil,

Second-place Super Eagles, who have four points from two matches, will meet Group F leaders, Argentina in their final group match in Porto Alegre on Wednesday and a defeat by the 1986 world cup winners will see the African champions eliminated from the world cup if Iran gets a victory against Bosnia in the other group F match.

However, if Iran fails to beat Bosnia in Salvador, then the Super Eagles will qualify for the second round for the third time in their world cup campaigns if they get defeated by Argentina.

Keshi does not think his side will need all of that to advance to the next round in Brazil and he believes that hard work and team play against Argentina will help them to advance into the round of 16

“I never thought that we wouldn’t make the Round of 16. We need to work hard for the game against Argentina. I have the players,” Keshi, who represented Nigeria at the USA 1994 World Cup, said

Meanwhile, Argentina hope to notch up their third win and top the table as that would mean, they would likely avoid an impressive France side for a second round tie and instead will hope to take on Group E runners-up, which is likely to be Ecuador or Switzerland, although Honduras still has an outside chance of qualifying.

The two-time former world cup winners may have failed to set the 2014 World Cup stage alight in their opening games but Messi predicts they are gradually blending.

“We are not showing what we can do, but with a run of games I think we will get there,” he said.

Coach Alejandro Sabella hailed Messi, saying the Barcelona star was crucial to his plans after his heroics against Iran.

Sabella said: “All the players contributed to the victory but of course we have a genius who is called Messi. Fortunately he is Argentine — everyone would like to have Messi but it is us who have him. Iran made life hard for us but with Messi, everything is possible”.

Nigeria have met Argentina thrice at the group stage of the world cup in 1994, 2002 and 2010 and losing on all occasions.

Mladic appeals for delay in his War crimes trial

Former Bosnian Serb Military Commander; Ratko Mladic has appealed for his Yugoslav war crime trial to be delayed for six months.

The 70 year old claimed that the delays by the prosecutors in disclosing evidence can lead to the miscarriage of justice as the motion was filed by Ratko’s lawyers.

He is the last major player from the Bosnian conflict to go on trial at the UN court.

This move is seen as another ploy by Ratko to delay his trial as he requested last week  the presiding judge  who is a duthman be replaced and on that ground requested for  postponement.

His trial will begin on Wednesday as he faces 11 charges alleging that he orchestrated atrocities by Serb fighters in the Bosnian War which lasted from 1992-95.

Mladic has refused to enter pleas but denies wrongdoing. He was arrested last year in Serbia after 15 years as a fugitive.