INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Banja Luka Muslim Leaders Arrested For

Published: Fri 10 Mar 1995 04:44 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLASSIFIED LIMITED OFFICIAL USE SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 01090
SIPDIS
VIENNA ALSO FOR BOSNIA
USVIENNA ALSO FOR USDEL OSCE
BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU
E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREF BK PREF BK HR
SUBJECT: BANJA LUKA MUSLIM LEADERS ARRESTED FOR
"ESPIONAGE" FACE POSSIBLE DEATH SENTENCE
1. THIS IS AN ACTION REQUEST. SEE PARA 7.
2. (U) IN THE PAST TWO WEEKS, OVER TEN OF THE MOST
PROMINENT MUSLIM COMMUNITY LEADERS IN THE BANJA LUKA
REGION HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AT THEIR MERHAMET OFFICES AND IN
THEIR HOMES BY SERB MILITARY AUTHORITIES. THE DETAINED
INCLUDED NIJAZ KARASELIMOVIC, THE 73-YEAR-OLD PRESIDENT OF
MERHAMET BANJA LUKA. POLICE ALSO CARRIED AWAY COMPUTERS
AND DISKS CONTAINING THE ORGANIZATION'S RECORDS. THERE
ARE UNCONFIRMED REPORTS OF SIMILAR ARRESTS IN NOVI GRAD
(FORMERLY BOSANSKI NOVI) AND PRNJAVOR. AFTER THESE
ARRESTS AND THOSE OF THE SDA LEADERSHIP FIVE MONTHS AGO,
THE ONLY REMAINING MUSLIM COMMUNITY LEADER IN BANJA LUKA
IS THE RELIGIOUS MUFTI, IBRAHIM HALILOVIC.
3. (LOU) ACCORDING TO AP/HINA, MERHAMET ZAGREB SOURCES,
AND KARASELIMOVIC'S SON EMIR (PROTECT), THESE PRISONERS
ARE CURRENTLY UNDER DETENTION IN A MILITARY PRISON, HAVE
BEEN INDICTED BY THE MILITARY PROSECUTOR IN BANJA LUKA FOR
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ESPIONAGE, AND MAY BE SUMMARILY EXECUTED IF CONVICTED.
EFFORTS BY INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES TO VISIT THE PRISONERS
HAVE BEEN REBUFFED SO FAR. LOCAL SOURCES IN CONTACT WITH
THEIR FAMILIES TOLD US THAT, IN PRISON, THE MUSLIMS WERE
BEATEN AND TORTURED BY THE MILITARY AUTHORITIES. THE
INDICTMENT ALLEGES THAT THESE INDIVIDUALS CARRIED OUT
ESPIONAGE ACTIVITIES IN THE FORM OF CONTACTS WITH FOREIGN
EMBASSIES IN ZAGREB, AND REPORTEDLY NAMED THE BOSNIAN
EMBASSY. PREVIOUS TO HIS ARREST, EMBOFF HAD MET WITH
KARASELIMOVIC IN ZAGREB ON FEBRUARY 21 TO DISCUSS THE
WORSENING HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION FOR MINORITIES IN THE
BANJA LUKA REGION. AN ACCOUNT FROM BANJA LUKA'S "GLAS
SRPSKI" LINKED THESE ALLEGED ESPIONAGE ACTIVITIES WITH
THOSE OF THE SDA LEADERSHIP "VALTER GROUP," SIMILARLY
CHARGED, AND CURRENTLY ON TRIAL BY THE MILITARY
PROSECUTOR.
4. (U) THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUALS ARE REPORTED TO BE
IMPRISONED AT THE MALI LOGOR BARRACKS IN BANJA LUKA AT
THIS TIME:
MERHAMET BANJA LUKA:
NIJAZ KARASELIMOVIC, PRESIDENT
BECO FILIPOVIC, VICE-PRESIDENT
ISMET PELAK, ATTORNEY
ADIL MEDIC, EXCHANGE COMMISSION MEMBER AND
CONVOY MANAGER
MEHMED BAJRIC, EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER AND
CONVOY LEADER
ENVER IBRAHIM-BEGOVIC, (NO FURTHER INFORMATION)
(BAKIR IBRAHIM-BEGOVIC, FATHER OF ENVER, WAS RELEASED)
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MERHAMET PRIJEDOR
NIJAZ KAPETANOVIC, PRESIDENT
ADIL SOLO, VICE PRESIDENT
SEDIKA CERIC, SECRETARY
MERHAMET SANSKI MOST
AMIR TALIC, FORMER PRESIDENT
(TWO OTHERS FROM SANSKI MOST HAVE BEEN RELEASED)
5. (LOU) OUR CONTACTS STATED THAT AS A RESULT OF THESE
DETENTIONS, PANIC HAS SPREAD AMONG THE MUSLIM AND OTHER
MINORITY COMMUNITIES IN BANJA LUKA. FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE
ARE REPORTEDLY PREPARED TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY IN FEAR FOR
THEIR LIVES.
6. (LOU) UNHCR CONTACTS TOLD US THIS INCIDENT HAS
SIGNIFICANTLY IMPAIRED THEIR EFFORTS AND THOSE OF OTHER
INTERNATIONAL GROUPS TO MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH THE MINORITY
COMMUNITIES AND DELIVER AID TO THE REGION. THEY BELIEVE
THAT THE SERB AUTHORITIES HAVE "DECAPITATED" THE MUSLIM
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PAGE 01 ZAGREB 01090 02 OF 02 101653Z
ACTION EUR-01
INFO LOG-00 AID-01 AMAD-01 CIAE-00 SMEC-00 OASY-00 EB-01
OIGO-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-10 L-01 ADS-00
NEA-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 PA-01 PRS-01 P-01
SP-00 SR-00 SSO-00 SS-00 STR-01 TRSE-00 PRM-10
PRME-01 DRL-09 G-00 /044W
------------------AF2D0F 101653Z /38
O 101644Z MAR 95
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5127
INFO CINCUSAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE//DO/LG/XP/IN//
HQ JTF PP NAPLES IT//CA/POLAD//
USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ3/ECJ4/ECJ5//
CINCUSNAVEUR LONDON UK//N2/N22//
USLO SKOPJE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
NATO EU COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
USMISSION GENEVA
AMCONSUL MUNICH
COM SIXTHFLT//N2//
HQUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE//J3/J4/J5//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ISP//
USIA WASHDC 5130
JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5-PMA/J21//
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PAGE 02 ZAGREB 01090 02 OF 02 101653Z
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE SECTION 02 OF 02 ZAGREB 001090
VIENNA ALSO FOR BOSNIA
USVIENNA ALSO FOR USDEL OSCE
BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU
E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREF BK PREF BK HR
SUBJECT: BANJA LUKA MUSLIM LEADERS ARRESTED FOR
"ESPIONAGE" FACE POSSIBLE DEATH SENTENCE
COMMUNITY TO DESTABILIZE IT AND ENCOURAGE THE FURTHER
EXODUS OF MUSLIMS. THE NEWLY NAMED LEADERSHIP FOR
MERHAMET IN THE AREA (NO FURTHER INFORMATION) IS NOW WARY
OF FURTHER INTERNATIONAL CONTACTS AND NO LONGER OPPOSES
THE MASS DEPARTURE OF MUSLIMS, A SIGNIFICANT SHIFT FROM
ITS TRADITIONAL POSITION ON ETHNIC CLEANSING. ONE
MERHAMET SOURCE CLAIMED THAT THESE NEW LEADERS ARE NO
LONGER INDEPENDENT, ARE SUBJECT TO SERB CIVIL POLICE
THREATS AND MAY EVEN TAKE DIRECTION FROM THEM. UNHCR SAID
THE PEOPLE NOW FEEL MUCH MORE EXPOSED AND THEIR LEADERSHIP
IS NO LONGER ABLE TO "TAKE THE HEAT" FOR THEM.
7. (LOU) ACTION REQUEST: WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT THE
DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON ISSUE A STATEMENT WHICH CONDEMNS
THE ARRESTS OF THESE SPECIFIC MUSLIM HUMANITARIAN
ASSISTANCE COMMUNITY LEADERS; CALLS ON THE SERBS TO ALLOW
INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES TO VISIT THE PRISONERS IMMEDIATELY
AND ASCERTAIN THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH THEY ARE BEING
HELD; POINTEDLY NOTES THE EXISTENCE OF THE WAR CRIMES
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TRIBUNAL; AND WARNS ALL OF THOSE INVOLVED IN THESE ARRESTS
AND PROSECUTIONS AND IN THE CONTINUED "ETHNIC CLEANSING"
OF NON-SERBS FROM THE BANJA LUKA REGION AND ELSEWHERE THAT
WE ARE WATCHING CLOSELY AND TAKING NAMES AND INTEND TO
HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.
NEITZKE
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