Sarajevo police arrested two Bosnian Serbs on Friday and said one of them is suspected of killing a deputy prime minister at a Serb roadblock during the wartime siege of the city.
The Jan. 8, 1993, killing of Hakija Turajlic, who was shot in a United Nations’ vehicle in full view of French U.N. soldiers escorting him, provoked angry condemnations from around the world.
But Friday’s arrest sparked Serb anger, with a crowd grabbing 20 people from a U.N. bus coming from Muslim-Croat territory and threatening to kill them if Serb Goran Vasic and his companion were not freed.
A U.N. spokesman later said all but one of the bus passengers had been released and the crowd dispersed. But Radovan Pejic, a spokesman for the Bosnian Serb police station where the release was negotiated, said four people were unaccounted for late Friday.
Alexander Ivanko, spokesman for the U.N. international police in Bosnia, said Vasic and another man, identified as his brother-in-law, were arrested on the Muslim-Croat side of the suburb of Dobrinja. Vasic had a pistol, he said.
The demarcation line between the Muslim-Croatian Federation and the Bosnian Serb substate runs through Dobrinja, a battered suburb near Sarajevo airport that saw some of the worst wartime destruction.
Two shots were fired during the arrest but nobody was injured, Ivanko said. The two Serbs were transported handcuffed to a downtown police station, he said.
According to police sources in Sarajevo, Vasic is a former member of the Bosnian Serb forces and lived in the Serb part of Dobrinja, working as a waiter but also crossing the demarcation line frequently as a smuggler.
He was arrested while traveling in his car, apparently on a smuggling trip, the police sources said, insisting on anonymity.
Vasic is accused of murder, and will face trial in Sarajevo. If convicted, he would face years in jail - but the exact time is unclear until precise charges are brought.
Throughout the 1992-95 Serb siege of Sarajevo, Serb forces kept a checkpoint on the road linking the U.N.-controlled Sarajevo airport to the city and controlled the traffic.
Officially the road was under the protection of the United Nations, but its peacekeepers were never able to dismantle the checkpoint, at which U.N. staff and aid convoys were frequently stopped and prevented from entering Sarajevo.