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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Bosnia leader was war crimes suspect
Izetbegovic
Izetbegovic led the government during the war of the early 1990s
Former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic was under war crimes investigation until his death, the Hague tribunal has revealed on the day of his funeral.

The inquiry will now be halted, said tribunal spokeswoman Florence Hartmann, who did not reveal exactly what crimes the wartime government head had been accused of.

The statement came as an estimated 100,000 mourners gathered in the capital, Sarajevo, for Mr Izetbegovic's funeral.

Mr Izetbegovic, who led the Bosnian Government during the war of the early 1990s, died in hospital at the weekend, aged 78.

Izetbegovic was one of the suspects who was under investigation...The fact he died means all investigations are stopped
Florence Hartmann
Tribunal spokeswoman
Dozens of countries sent representatives to the funeral.

Coaches carrying thousands of people from across Bosnia and beyond began arriving in pouring rain during the early hours.

The main streets in Sarajevo were closed to traffic, and thousands of people queued outside the presidency building where Mr Izetbegovic was lying in state, his coffin draped in the blue and gold Bosnian flag.

Crowds prayed and chanted Allah Akhbar (God is great) as his coffin was driven through the streets. Some carried the coffin on their shoulders for the final part of the journey.

Tribute to former President Alija Izetbegovic

"He led his nation and prevailed in a war in which some sought annihilation," said the international community's top representative in Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, in a funeral address.

"There are men and women of good will in Bosnia-Hercegovina today (who can) build a future for this country that is better than its past."

Mr Izetbegovic was laid to rest in Kovaci cemetery in Sarajevo's old town. Hundreds of people tried to touch his coffin as it was carried to his grave.

A final guard of honour fired shots over the grave as foreign dignatories and family members looked on.

Legacy

"Bosnia always had sons who wanted to live together and be tolerant and it will always be like that because Bosnia's sons... will honour the memory of Alija Izetbegovic," the head of Islamic community, Mustafa Ceric, told the crowd earlier.

Sarajevo airport was specially opened to receive foreign dignitaries, including large delegations from Turkey and Iran.

Mr Izetbegovic, a devout Muslim, headed the government as the country's Muslims, Serbs and Croats were involved in Europe's bloodiest conflict since World War II.

Many Bosnian Muslims regard him as a hero who defended them against Serb aggression, but many of the country's ethnic Serb population believe Mr Izetbegovic should have taken his fair share of blame for the start of the war, and see him as a Muslim extremist responsible for atrocities.

The Bosnian Serbs refused to send an official delegation to the funeral.

No details

In The Hague, Ms Hartmann said the nature of the accusations against Mr Izetbegovic would not be revealed as he could not defend himself.

"Izetbegovic was one of the suspects who was under investigation...The fact he died means all investigations are stopped," she said.

Bosnia remains a divided country, split between the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic.

Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic have been indicted by the tribunal for war crimes but remain at large.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is on trial for alleged war crimes offences in Bosnia and elsewhere.


SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Izetbegovic funeral
22 Oct 03  |  Photo Gallery
Serb fury at war crimes charges
21 Oct 03  |  Europe
Former Bosnian president dies
19 Oct 03  |  Europe
Obituary: Alija Izetbegovic
19 Oct 03  |  Europe
Bosnia's war legacy
03 Apr 02  |  Crossing Continents
Izetbegovic steps down
14 Oct 00  |  Europe
Timeline: Bosnia-Hercegovina
10 Sep 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Bosnia-Hercegovina
01 Oct 03  |  Country profiles


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