AFP, April 20, 2001
Thousands of Bosnian Serbs protest arrest of war crimes suspect
ZVORNIK, Bosnia-Hercegovina, April 20 (AFP) -
Around 10,000 people took to the streets of the eastern Bosnian Serb town of Zvornik Friday to protest the recent arrest of a Bosnian Serb officer by UN peacekeepers.
Troops of the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) stepped up security at the entrance to the city for the rally, and helicopters were seen flying overhead.
Some of the protesters, many of whom arrived by bus, were seen hissing at SFOR soldiers, but no incidents were reported.
The protesters were carrying signs which read, "Enough of this biased justice," "We want to join Europe, but not by force," and "Every occupation has an end."
Dragan Obrenovic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb Zvornik brigade during the 1992-95 war, was arrested by SFOR troops in Bosnia on Sunday.
He was flown directly to The Hague, where on Wednesday he pleaded not guilty before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to charges of complicity in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The charges stem from the execution of thousands of Muslim men after Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.
Alexander Despotovic, leader of the local association for Bosnian Serb veterans, said the veterans would appear before the ICTY if the complete list of those charged with war crimes was made public.
If the list was not published, Despotovic said there would be more protests throughout the Republika Srpska (RS), the Bosnian Serb entity of Bosnia.
Protest organisers also read from a letter by Borislav Bojic, leader of the Republika Srpska veterans, in which he demanded that the RS parliament clarify its position on accused war criminals.
Several thousand people in Zvornik also protested Obrenovic's arrest on Monday. The demonstrators read an open letter to Bosnian Serb leaders saying they were "embittered and deeply shocked by the brutal arrest of an honorable Serb officer."