War Crimes Provision Targets Top Two Leaders

The accord to end Bosnia’s 3-1/2-year war is designed to end not only the fighting, but also the careers of some of the main warriors.

In announcing the peace deal Tuesday in Washington, President Clinton said people charged with war crimes would be banned from political office in a future Bosnia.

The provision was aimed at the Bosnian Serbs’ top two officials: Radovan Karadzic, their political leader, and Lt. Gen. Ratko Mladic, their military commander.

Both have been indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague for genocide in the suspected deaths of thousands of Muslims after the July 11 fall of Srebrenica, as well as for ordering the bombardments of Sarajevo and other Bosnian cities.

Karadzic and Mladic did not attend the peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, in order to avoid arrest. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic represented them.

Belgrade media said Tuesday that Karadzic and Mladic had agreed to relinquish power in exchange for assurances that they would not be handed over to the tribunal. But the two denied the reports. Sources close to Milosevic said he was pressuring them to step down.

The United States has made their resignation a condition of contributing troops to a NATO force for Bosnia, and Bosnia’s Muslim-led government has said it will refuse to accept any peace deal until they step down.

If they refuse, it would probably derail implementation of the peace deal and threaten the lifting of an economic embargo on Yugoslavia, imposed to punish Belgrade for its support of the Bosnian Serbs.

A desire to end the embargo was what finally brought Milosevic to the negotiating table.

It was not clear what Karadzic and Mladic would do once they leave office, or who would replace them.

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