[JURIST] Police in Bosnia and Serbia, as part of a joint investigation and operation, arrested 15 individuals Friday accused of perpetrating the massacre of 19 unarmed men during the height of the Balkan conflict. The men are accused [AP report] of orchestrating the 1993 Strpci massacre where Bosnian Serb militiamen removed 18 Bosnian Muslims and one Croat from a train stopped in Stripci. The captives were brutally beaten before being executed. The investigation has identified Bosnian Serb warlord Milan Lukic [ICTY backgrounder] as the mastermind of the massacre. He is currently serving a life sentence handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] for separate war crimes against Muslims in Bosnia. The coordinated operation apprehended 10 suspects in Bosnia and five in Serbia including Milan Lukic’s brother Gojko and former Bosnian Serb army General Luka Dragicevic.
The ICTY and the Balkan States have attempted to prosecute those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Balkan conflict of the 1990’s that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced. In November Serbian far-right ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj [official website, in Serbian; JURIST news archive] who has been in custody at The Hague since 2003, after he was accused of war crimes and recruiting paramilitary forces during the 1990s Balkan conflict returned [JURIST report] to Serbia in November on temporary release due to health concerns. Seselj’s war crimes trial began [JURIST report] in 2007 after he was charged [indictment, PDF] with three counts of crimes against humanity and six counts of war crimes and accused of establishing rogue paramilitary units affiliated with the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, which are believed to have massacred and otherwise persecuted Croats and other non-Serbs during the Balkan conflict.