Cvetkovic. 'Took active role in massacre'
Reproduction photo: Gil Nechushtan
Remand of Bosnia massacre suspect extended
Aleksander Cvetkovic tells court he hasn't eaten a thing in 40 hours. State says suspect took active role in Srebrenica massacre

The Jerusalem District Court extended by a month the remand of Aleksander Cvetkovic, an Israeli man suspected of involvement in genocide in Bosnia on Wednesday.


During the court hearing Cvetkovic said: "I haven't eaten a thing in 40 hours. I drank three cups of water. How is my brain going to function now?." Judge Ben-Zion Greenberger said the matter was very serious. The suspect's wife said: "I believe him."


Cvetkovic, 43, was arrested Monday on suspicion of being involved in the Srebrenica massacre in which more than 1,000 Muslims were murdered. He made aliyah in 2006 and has been living in Carmiel with his wife and two children since. The State Prosecutor's Office asked he be declared as eligible for extradition.


During the hearing the State representative said that Cvetkovic claimed to have been present at the scene of the massacre but served as a driver. "They took them off the buses, lined them up and shot them. The murder lasted 10 hours. Cvetkovic took an active role," he said.


"It is a painful and tragic affair. In the last few months we have been in contact with Bosnian authorities. It should be noted there is no death sentence in Bosnia. Israel would not extradite an Israeli citizen in case the punishment is a death sentence."


The suspect's attorney, Vadim Shuv, motioned the court for a two-week continuance to study the materials and the State agreed. He further motioned to allow Cvetkovic to speak to his wife for several minutes as he has not spoken to her since prior to his arrest. The judge granted the request. Cvetkovic appeared tense and refused to talk to the press.


Attorney Gal Levertov, director of the International Department at the State Proscutor's Office, said there was a substantial amount of evidence in the case. Asked why the suspect was arrested only 16 years after the alleged crime, he said: "These acts were first investigated in 2005 and indictments have been filed since 2009. It should be stressed this affair was given high priority."


Cvetkovic is denying the allegations. His attorney said that he was questioned about the charges as early as 2005, before he immigrated to Israel, and claimed his innocence then.


Cvetkovic's attorneys said their client had already testified before the International Court of Justice in The Hague and was not prosecuted and noted he never concealed his identity.


"One has to ask the authorities there why they decided to arrest him now," the attorney stated. "He cooperated with the Bosnian authorities and it is unclear why they want to extradite him. Genocide is a particularly difficult charge to prove. Only two people have thus been convicted of genocide by the International Court of Justice. We doubt the prosecution will be able to prove any case against him."


Won't serve sentence in Israel

Last August, Bosnia turned to Israel's State Prosecutor's Office asking to extradite Cvetkovic for involvement in genocide. It is alleged he took an active role in the massacre. If convicted he is not likely to serve his sentence in Israel as he was not an Israeli citizen or resident at the time the crime was perpetrated. 


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 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.


The international community considers the Srebrenica massacre as genocide.



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