British court refuses bail for ex-Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic on war crimes charges

By David Stringer, AP
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

UK court refuses bail to former Bosnian politician

LONDON — A British judge on Wednesday ordered former Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic held in custody, dismissing a request to release him while he challenges a Serbian demand that he be extradited for alleged war crimes.

District Judge Quentin Purdy said Ganic, 63, must be detained until a hearing next week in a London court because of the seriousness of the allegations against him.

Ganic was arrested Monday at London’s Heathrow Airport after Serbia issued an arrest warrant accusing him of war crimes in connection with the 1992 deaths of Serbian troops in Bosnia.

Serbian authorities say Ganic is suspected of ordering the killing of more than 40 Yugoslav army soldiers retreating from Sarajevo at the beginning of the 1990s Balkan war.

Bosnia has accused Serbia of using the arrest warrant to appease nationalists angered because Serbian war crimes courts have passed severe sentences on Serbs accused of committing war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

In response, Bosnia issued its own warrant for Ganic’s arrest — an effort intended to prevent Ganic being sent to Serbia.

The case has further strained relations between the two Balkan nations, with Bosnians accusing Serbia of attempting to undermine Bosnia’s sovereignty.

Ganic’s daughter, son and Bosnia’s ambassador to London Jadranka Negodic were in court for the hearing, but Ganic, who is being held at a London jail, did not appear.

Defense lawyer Clare Montgomery told the court the allegations against Ganic had previously been dismissed by a panel of independent lawyers, and said that there is no evidence any senior official issued an order to fire on the troops.

“This case is what I would characterize as a mockery of justice,” Montgomery said.

Ganic, a friend of ex-British leader Margaret Thatcher, was arrested during a visit to Britain with a group of students from his private university — the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology — for a degree ceremony at Buckingham University.

Terence Kealey, the school’s vice chancellor, told the court he would offer a 25,000 pound bond ($38,000) for Ganic’s release.

Purdy declined bail, but ordered Ganic to appear at the court in person for another hearing Tuesday.

Ganic’s daughter, Emina, told The Associated Press outside the hearing that the decision was “totally outrageous,” and said her family had been denied access to her father in jail.

“My father has not been able to meet with us, with our ambassador, or talk to his lawyers — a denial of his rights — and this has been explained to us as an administrative error,” she said.

The court did not explain why Ganic had not been brought from prison to appear at the hearing, as is usual in similar proceedings.

Ganic’s legal adviser, Damir Arnaut, said lawyers plan to lodge an appeal at Britain’s High Court against the decision to refuse bail.

Associated Press Writer Aidia Cerkez-Robinson in Sarajevo contributed to this report.

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