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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Analysis: Bosnian Muslims back trials
War crimes suspect Mehmed Alagic under guard in Sarajevo
Sarajevo is set on demonstrating its respect for the law
South-East Europe analyst Gabriel Partos examines why Bosnian Muslim officials are co-operating with the war crimes tribunal.

In a little over a month The Hague Tribunal's demands for the extradition of war crimes suspects led to the collapse of the Yugoslav Government.

At the same time, they provoked a coalition crisis in Croatia and a belated move in the Bosnian Serb republic to begin legislation on handing over its suspects.

But Bosnia's other entity, the Muslim-Croat federation, presents a very different picture.

With speed and efficiency, the mainly Muslim authorities there have handed over three senior Muslim officers in Bosnia's wartime army.

History of good relations

This is not the first time the Muslims have demonstrated their willingness to work with the tribunal.

Muslim woman at Srebrenica massacre commemoration
Bosnian Muslims bore the brunt of the atrocities

Five years ago they transferred two Muslims who had been charged with atrocities against Serbs at the Celebici prison camp.

The Bosnian Muslims' readiness to co-operate with The Hague goes back to their wartime experience.

While the mainly-Muslim government's army was nearly overwhelmed by the assaults launched by Serb and later Croat forces, Muslims had little choice but to put their faith in the international community.

As the weakest side during the war in the early 1990s, Muslims were campaigning for international intervention in Bosnia.

They were also the only local supporters of the idea of setting up a war crimes tribunal.

Less to fear

For Muslims now to turn their backs on The Hague would be to go against this tradition.

Besides, they feel they have much less to be guilty about than Serbs or Croats.

So far only six of the over 70 individuals indicted have been Muslims.

Some Muslims believe it is unfair that they - as the main victims of the conflict - should be extraditing some of their war heroes.

But the general feeling among them is that the tribunal is making a valuable effort to mete out justice.

See also:

09 Aug 01 | Europe
Bosnian Muslims deny war crimes
03 Aug 01 | Europe
War crimes: The ethnic balance
02 Aug 01 | Europe
General guilty of Bosnia genocide
02 Aug 01 | Europe
Q&A: Srebrenica massacre
05 Jul 01 | Europe
Q&A: Who's next at The Hague?
03 Jul 01 | Europe
At a glance: Hague tribunal
03 Jul 01 | Europe
What is a war crime?
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