The former Bosnian Serb soldier who was arrested
in Israel Tuesday on suspicion of involvement in the 1995 execution of Bosnian Muslim men and boys at the Branjevo farm, near Srebrenica, has denied the allegations.
"He admits he was a soldier, but says he did not take part (in the massacre)," Aleksander Cvetkovic's attorney told Ynet.
Attorney Vadim Shuv met his client in his cell at police headquarters in Jerusalem's Russian Compound. "He had no idea why he was arrested; he was in shock. He denies all the allegations," the lawyer said.
The attorney said Cvetkovic interrogated in Bosnia in 2005. "Why didn’t they do anything then? He wondered.
Cvetkovic, 43, immigrated to Israel
with his wife and children in 2006. He received citizenship under Israeli law because his wife is Jewish. The family lives in Carmiel, and Cvetkovic makes his living as a construction worker.
The State Prosecutor's Office asked the court to rule that Cvetkovic can be extradited.
Outside Cvetkovic's home in the northern Israeli town, Alexander Rakoshi said he was stunned by the arrest of his neighbor of at least two years.
"He's a nice man, friendly and a great guy," Rakoshi said. "He has three kids, a wife - his wife is friends with my wife."
Cvetkovic's wife Tatiana told Ynet, "I'm stunned. I have no idea what this is about."
Another neighbor, Orly Hazan, said Cvetkovic volunteered to work on the building's garden every Friday. "He always has a smile on his face, and never appears sad or angry. We were shocked when we heard on the television what he was accused of," she said, "Maybe it's a mistake and they have the wrong man."
Cvetkovic is wanted as a suspected member of an eight-man firing squad involved in executing between 1,000 and 1,200 Bosnian Muslims at the Branjevo Farm in July 1995, according to the Bosnian extradition documents. The victims were brought in buses to the farm, where soldiers led them off in groups of 10, blindfolded and bound. After lining them up, the eight soldiers shot the victims from behind with automatic weapons, then buried them, the documents allege.
The killings were part of what later became known as the Srebrenica massacre, in which Bosnian Serb troops killed around 8,000 Muslims. It was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
Hagai Einav and Aviad Glickman contributed to the report