Israel extradited Serb-Israeli Alexander Zvtkovic to Bosnia- Herzegovina on
Thursday to face genocide charges.
The move followed a recent failed
challenge to his extradition before the High Court of Justice after former
justice minister Yaakov Neeman had signed off on the extradition.
government of Bosnia- Herzegovina submitted the request for his extradition on
August 29, 2010.
Also, in November 2012, the Supreme Court upheld a lower
court ruling to extradite Zvtkovic to Bosnia- Herzegovina.
are a rare proceeding where a defendant can both go before the Supreme Court as
an appeals court and later appeal to the same court in its capacity as the High
Court of Justice on different grounds.
Zvtkovic is suspected of
involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which as many as 8,000 Muslims
were executed after Serb forces overran the town during the civil war in
The 43-year-old Zvtkovic was alleged to be a former member of the
10th Sapper’s Unit of the Bosnian-Serb army. The Jerusalem District Court
declared him extraditable, but he appealed to the Supreme Court.
defense had claimed, among other things, that Zvtkovic was stunned by the
In addition to noting the poor quality of prison conditions in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, the defense argued that Zvtkovic would not get a fair trial
because of the politics surrounding the accusations against him and that he
feared for his life when fellow prisoners learned of what he was
Furthermore, the defense said that the judges he would face were
not independent on cases like his.
On the charges themselves, it argued
that Zvtkovic had been a soldier, but did not participate in the actions
attributed to him.
Alternatively, the defense said that it had never been
proven that what occurred at Srebrenica could be legally defined as
However, according to the testimony of some eyewitnesses,
Zvtkovic took part in a massacre at the Branjevo Farm on July 16,
Derzen Ardomovic, who testified at the trial of other suspects in
the Srebrenica massacre, served in the same unit as Zvtkovic. In his testimony,
Ardomovic said that on the day of the massacre, their commanding officers
informed them that in a few minutes, buses carrying Muslims from Srebrenica
would be arriving and that they were to be executed.
When the buses
arrived, Ardomovic said, the commanders ordered the soldiers to remove the
Muslims and escort them to the place where they were to be executed. The
soldiers led the people, who were blindfolded and had their hands tied, a
distance of 100-200 meters from the bus, Ardomovic testified.
shot them in the back in accordance with a command from Brano Gojkovic [one of
the commanders]. Eight soldiers took part in the execution. All of them obeyed
the commands and fired at the victims with their automatic rifles,” Ardomovic
He added that at one point, Zvtkovic complained that the executions
were taking place too slowly and suggested using an M- 84 machine gun to kill
The other soldiers agreed and used it to open fire on two
groups of captives, he said.
Ardomovic estimated that between 10 a.m. and
4 p.m., the soldiers killed 1,000- 1,200 Bosnians.
The defense claimed
that there were evidentiary problems with Ardomovic’s testimony, contending that
he had been offered a deal to testify in private, but not in open
In other words, the defense said it would not get a chance to
cross-examine Ardomovic, making it impossible to verify his
Another witness, known only by his initials Z.I., also
testified that Zvtkovic had been one of eight Serb soldiers who carried out the
executions at the farm.
Z.I. said that a bus carrying captured Muslims
arrived every 20-30 minutes at the farm.
The soldiers were ordered to
escort groups of 10 passengers at a time to a spot near the bus.
passengers ranged in age from 18 to 60. There were a few in military uniforms
but most of the victims were dressed in civilian clothing.
finalizing the reasons that Zvtkovic’s arguments were unavailing, the Supreme
Court said that the state only needed to prove that there was sufficient
evidence to extradite, which it had done.
Also, the court noted that
Bosnia-Herzegovina made guarantees to the State of Israel that Zvtkovic would be
held in special conditions to maintain his safety, including permitting Israeli
consular visits to verify that his conditions were appropriate.
immigrated to Israel with his wife and children in 2006 and received Israeli
citizenship because his wife is Jewish.
Before his arrest, he was living
in Karmiel and working in a factory and in construction.
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