Bosnia war crimes fugitive arrested in Argentina

A top Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive wanted by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia for atrocities during the 1992-95 Bosnia war was arrested in Argentina Aug. 8. Milan Lukic, who went underground after the war ended, is being held in a Buenos Aires jail. Lukic was indicted on several counts of crimes against humanity by the tribunal at The Hague in 2000. A Belgrade court also convicted him for the 1992 slaying of 16 Muslims and later sentenced him in absentia to 20 years in prison.

Officials say Lukic led a paramilitary group called “The Avengers” or “White Eagles,” held responsible for abducting, torturing and killing some 100 Bosnian Muslims. In one of the most notorious cases, Lukic led a group that abducted men and women living in the Muslim-majority Sandzak region of Serbia from a bus on their way to work, murdered them, and threw their bodies into the Drina River. The Hague’s indictment describes a number of other atrocities, including Lukic’s occupation of a Bosnia furniture factory where he forced seven Muslims to walk to a riverbank and shot them at point-blank range.

In Buenos Aires, police said authorities had been following Lukic’s movements for days and arrested him on a street in a posh area of the city. (Reuters, Aug. 8)

Lukic is the second Serb war crimes fugitive to be arrested in Argentina. In late May, accused Serb paramilitary warlord Nebojsa Minic was arrested in the western city of Mendoza. Known as “Commander Death,” Minic was apprehended following a tip from the New York-based Human Rights Watch. He is accused of overseeing atrocities in the Kosovo town of Pec in 1999, including the murder of a six-member ethnic Albanian family. His indictment is based on research by the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Fund. (Equipo Nizkor, June 3)

Lukic’s arrest leaves eight top Serbian or Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects still at large, including the two most-wanted fugitives: former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic. Both have been indicted for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo that killed some 10,000 people. Unfortunately, despite an exhaustive investigation, the reality of Srebrenica remains controversial for many.

See our last post on the still-simmering Balkan crisis.

  1. Lukic: I’ll go to Hague
    RFE/RL Newsline reports Aug. 10 that Lukic told a court in Buenos Aires that he is willing to face war crimes charges before the tribunal in The Hague. Lukic said he wants “to tell the truth and remove this stain upon my life because I’ve been accused of something I did not do.” He agreed to go to The Hague “as soon as possible” and waived his right to contest extradition orders.