The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling to extradite Serb-Israeli
Alexander Zvtkovic to Bosnia-Herzegovina for genocide.
suspected of involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which as many as
8,000 Muslims were executed after Serb forces overran the town of Srebrenica
during the 1992-1995 civil war in Bosnia.
Zvtkovic had been declared
extraditable by the Jerusalem District Court, but had appealed to the Supreme
The 43-year-old Zvtkovic was alleged to be a former member of the
10th Sapper’s Unit of the Bosnian-Serb army.
The request for his
extradition was submitted by the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina on August 29,
The defense had claimed, among other things, that Zvtkovic was
stunned by the charges.
In addition to noting the poor quality of prison
conditions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the defense also 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.
they 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,”
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 Muslims.
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.
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
In other words, the defense said it would not get a chance to
cross-examine Adomovic, 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
execution at the farm.
He 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.
ranged in age from 18 to 60. There were a few in military uniforms but most of
the victims were dressed in civilian clothing.
Ultimately, the Supreme
Court said that Zvtkovic’s arguments were unavailing, as the state only needed
to prove that there was sufficient evidence to extradite, which it had
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.
Zvtkovic immigrated to Israel with his
wife and children in 2006 and received Israeli citizenship because his wife is
Before his arrest, he was living in Karmiel and working in a
factory and in construction.