British peacekeeping troops in Bosnia today arrested a key Bosnian Serb general wanted on war crimes charges by the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Maj. Gen. Stanislav Galic, leader of the siege of Sarajevo in 1995, was detained this morning in Banja Luka, capital of the Serb Republic in Bosnia, said the NATO-led stabilization force in Bosnia.
British troops stopped Galic, who was at the wheel of his car, smashed a window, dragged him out of the car and handcuffed him on the ground, according to witnesses interviewed by news agencies. Galic will be arraigned in The Hague, seat of the U.N. war crimes court, later this week on charges that he committed crimes against humanity and other violations of the customs of war.
Between 1992 and 1994, Galic was in charge of the Bosnian Serb army's Sarajevo Romanija Corps when the city was encircled and under daily bombardment that came to symbolize the horror of the Bosnian conflict. According to the indictment against Galic, which had not been made public before today, the force he commanded "used shelling and sniping to kill, maim, wound and terrorize the civilian inhabitants of Sarajevo."
Paul Risley, a spokesman for the tribunal prosecutor, described Galic as one of the senior military commanders of that period who reported directly to then-Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and top general Ratko Mladic, both of whom have been indicted by the tribunal on genocide charges and other war crimes but remain at large. Risley said the arrest helped "fill in the blanks" of Karadzic and Mladic lieutenants who had not yet been arrested.
Tribunal chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, in a statement today, praised the peacekeeping force for making the arrest and underscored her determination to press for the apprehension of 30 more fugitives who have been publicly charged with war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia--and more recently in Kosovo.
In an interview in The Hague last week, Del Ponte said she was preparing a new round of indictments that for the first time would include ethnic Albanians suspected of atrocities against Serbian civilians during the Kosovo conflict. She said these would include leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force that fought to win Kosovo's independence from Serbia, the dominant republic of Yugoslavia, but she declined to be more specific. Other tribunal sources said the prosecutor's office is still a long way from indicting any Kosovo Albanians.
Del Ponte acknowledged she lacks evidence of crimes in Kosovo that only Serbian cooperation could provide. "The Serb victims are in Serbia, and I can't get access to interview them," she said.
The tribunal indicted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four senior associates on war crimes charges in June for their role in the Serb-led Yugoslav offensive against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority. Del Ponte said she had asked the Milosevic government to give her and her prosecution team visas to enter Yugoslavia early next year to investigate war crimes committed against Serbs.
Revenge killings and deportations of Serbs at the hands of ethnic Albanians have proliferated since the NATO air campaign last spring led to the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo.
In the interview, Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general who became chief war crimes prosecutor in September, said she found no serious discrepancy between the tribunal's report last month that it has exhumed only 2,108 bodies in Kosovo thus far and a State Department estimate released Dec. 10 that 10,000 ethnic Albanians were killed by Serb-led forces. Tribunal investigators plan to resume excavations of bodies in the spring.
"I don't want to exclude the possibility that there are 10,000" dead, Del Ponte said. I've only looked at 160 sites [graves or mass graves], and I've still got 360 or 380 sites to do. God knows how many I'll find there. It could well be 10,000."
CAPTION: Peacekeeping troops in Bosnia arrested Stanislav Galic, military leader of the siege of Sarajevo, on war crimes charges by the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He will be arraigned this week.