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U.S. Welcomes Arrest of Accused Croatian War Criminal

08 December 2005

General Gotovina accused of war crimes against Serbs in Croatia

The United States congratulated Croatian and Spanish authorities for their efforts in the arrest of General Ante Gotovina, who was indicted in 2001 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for alleged war crimes against Serbs in Croatia.

Gotovina was arrested in the Canary Islands December 7.

“With the success of its considerable efforts to locate and bring Gotovina to justice, Croatia significantly strengthens its candidacy for its eventual full Euro-Atlantic integration,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a prepared statement.

During the State Department briefing December 8, deputy spokesman Adam Ereli noted that there are other war crimes cases that need to be resolved. 

“We would use this occasion to reiterate the point that the government of Serbia and Montenegro and the authorities, the Bosnian and Serb authorities, need to take every action to fulfill their international obligations to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, particularly by apprehending and transferring to The Hague Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic,” Ereli said.

Bosnian Serb political leader Karadzic and his former military commander, Mladic, remain at large nearly 10 years after the end of the Bosnia war. They are suspected of playing a leadership role in the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, Bosnia, in which ethnic Serb forces massacred as many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

For additional information on U.S. policy, see the Balkans.

Following is Secretary Rice’s statement:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
December 8, 2005

Statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

CROATIA: GOTOVINA'S CAPTURE

The United States welcomes the news that Ante Gotovina was arrested in the Canary Islands.  We congratulate Croatian and Spanish authorities for their efforts that led to his arrest.

With the arrest of Mr. Gotovina, Croatia has now taken a major step forward toward addressing the injustices of its recent past.  With the success of its considerable efforts to locate and bring Gotovina to justice, Croatia significantly strengthens its candidacy for its eventual full Euro-Atlantic integration.

The United States welcomes his prompt extradition to The Hague where he can stand trial for the crimes for which he has been indicted.  We congratulate the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for their steadfast commitment in seeing Gotovina and other war criminals brought to justice.

Gotovina's arrest underscores the need to resolve completely the remaining war crimes cases.

The United States calls on the Government of Serbia-Montenegro and the Bosnian Serb authorities to fulfill their international obligations to the Hague Tribunal without any further delay, in particular through the apprehension and transfer to The Hague of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, for whom the Tribunal's doors will always remain open.

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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