Former Bosnian president arrested in London

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Former Bosnian president Dr. Ejup Ganić was arrested by the Metropolitan Police at Heathrow Airport, London on Monday. He was attempting to leave the United Kingdom when authorities apprehended him.

Ganić was arrested on an extradition warrant issued by the Serbian government for alleged warcrimes he committed during the 1990s Balkans conflict. He is accused of involvement in a 1992 attack on a Yugoslav army convoy in Sarajevo where more than 40 people were killed.

Scotland Yard said Ganić "was arrested on behalf of the Serbian authorities under a provisional extradition warrant alleging 'conspiracy to murder with other named people and breach of the Geneva Convention, namely killing wounded soldiers...',". A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed Ganić's arrest following "a extradition request" from Serbian government.

Ganić, now 63 years old, appeared later at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, where he was remanded in custody for four weeks. Another court hearing will take place on March 29 when the Serbian authorities are expected to file papers to support the extradition request. Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic told the Beta news agency that her ministry would send the extradition request on Tuesday.

Ganić had been in the UK for several days, attending events at Buckingham University, which is partnered with Sarajevo School of Science and Technology where Ganić is a academic. He was also detained on Friday after arriving in London, but was released immediately as no extradition request had been received. Students at the Sarajevo university have phoned radio stations, urging Sarajevans to protest at the British embassy.

The Serbian Government had accused Ganić and eighteen others and issued warrants against them in 2009 over the May 1992 attack. He had dismissed these allegations as being "ridiculous" and said "For Serbia, anyone who defended our country must be arrested."

Damir Arnaut, political adviser to Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) president Haris Silajdžić said, "Bosnia has tried to establish correct relations with Serbia, but this political act is obviously directed against Bosnia's sovereignty." Ganić's daughter Emina accused Serbia of implicating her father "on the grounds of the evidence that already was dismissed by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague."

The Association of Detainees of Republika Srpska stated "by arresting Ganić the international community has finally understood that the time has come that war crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs be processed also."

Ganić has a PhD in Engineering Science from the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston and had lectured in two American universities. He served as both vice-president and president of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina after it broke from the former Yugoslavia. The ethnic cleansing that ensued claimed more than 100,000 victims.