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'We've got another 65 to find and judge'
Colonel Bob Stewart talks to BBC News Online
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Friday, 14 January, 2000, 17:49 GMT
Ahmici sentences 'are just a start'

Colonel Bob Stewart discovered the massacre in which 103 people died

Colonel Bob Stewart, the Commander of the British contingent of UN forces that discovered the massacre at Ahmici tells BBC News Online that the sentencing of five of those behind the attack is only the start of justice being done.

"I am delighted that five people have been judged who took part in the assault on the village of Ahmici on 16 April 1993.

"That's five people, I reckon at the time there were over 70 that took part in that assault. So we've got another 65 to find and judge.

"I am expecting other arrests. There are certainly people who know other names, almost all of them I would expect.

"So those people [who took part] should actually receive a signal by these arrests and their conscience should already be hurting them.

"But now they should be seriously worried that one day they too will be judged in The Hague. And I hope that would happen sooner rather than later.

"God knows how people living in Europe in 1993 could do that to one another.

"God knows how people living in Europe in 1993 could do that to one another."
"I don't know the answer to that question. I suspect that no one who took part in it does. It just happened. It's appalling, It's not race, it's not religion, I just don't understand why.

"We Europeans, we mankind have got to put a lot of work into trying to find out how apparently normal people can go into such a crazy situation that they actually kill their neighbours.

"I don't mind if the deterrent sent out by the sentences is only little. It's better than nothing and so I don't suspect many people will be deterred by these sentences but some might and that is good enough.

"It's a start.

"My own involvement in the whole situation in Central Bosnia was that I was the commander of the British UN contingent there and I discovered some of the massacres and I was the responsible UN officer.

I still feel it is my duty to do everything in my power to bring those people who carried out war crimes to justice.
"So I feel that even though I'm not a serving army officer now I still feel it is my duty - a duty given me by the UN - to do everything in my power to bring those people who carried out war crimes to justice.

"Ahmici is so appalling in my mind - I couldn't believe it at the time that women and children had been massacred by men alone.

"I was shocked that men had killed women. I find the greatest difficulty in trying to reconcile that a man took women and children and either battered them or shot them or burnt them to death.

"I just can't believe that it happened in Europe in 1993.

"The process of justice is beginning, it is a very good beginning.

"People have been complaining that it has taken too long.

"But my goodness I would just like to say this - well done the War Crime Tribunal, well done all those people who have spent so long bringing these people to justice, well done the world in actually waking up and doing something, even if it is very small.

"Well done the UN too for making this happen. So many people slate the UN, so many people highlight the negative.

"Of course there are huge negatives - but the fact of the matter is that this is a start.

"We cannot allow - if we live in a civilised world - such things to pass without action being taken.

"We cannot allow - if we live in a civilised world - such things to pass without action being taken.
"Even if it costs us huge amounts of money and resources and grief.

"Because if we do allow them to go by and just say 'Things have changed now, let's just forget it, it all happened in the past" - I think that would make us pretty uncivilised.

"I think this whole process of bringing people to justice will take tens of years. Think how long some of the war crimes of the Second World War have gone undetected or untried.

"What I would like to see is a situation where a person who has committed a war crime never sleeps easy in their beds for the rest of their life.

"And even if they are - dare I say it - lucky enough not to be caught, then maybe in the next life - if there is one and I hope there is - that someone judges them there.

"So in other words, sleep uneasy boys because one day your time will come."

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See also:
14 Jan 00 |  Europe
Profiles of the accused
14 Jan 00 |  Europe
Analysis: Big fish still at large
14 Jan 00 |  Europe
Flashback: The Ahmici massacre
14 Jan 00 |  Europe
Croat soldiers guilty of war crimes

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