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NATO unwilling to guard mass graves in Bosnia


NATO would not be prepared to guard the sites of mass graves in Bosnia in
the event of war crimes investigators deciding to dig them up, the
alliance's Supreme Commander in Europe said on Friday. US General George
Joulwan said the NATO-led Implementation Force would do its utmost to help
the work of the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, but that this could not
take priority over IFOR's primary tasks in Bosnia. In Washington, The
Christian Science Monitor said Friday that two previously undisclosed mass
graves of Moslem men massacred after Bosnian Serbs overran Srebrenica in
July have been located at Glogova, Bosnia. It said the graves were "large
enough to hold hundreds of bodies". They were visited Wednesday by Monitor
reporter Jonathan Landay who said he and three other western journalists
skirted Bosnian Serb checkpoints on main roads and toook rougher mountain
roads to the scene. The UN War Crimes Tribunal is currently examing the
possibiity of going to Srebrenica in northeastern Bosnia, a former UN safe
haven where thousands of Moslems were massacred by the Bosnian Serbs last
summer "If there is a request to go to sites we will provide a secure
environment, within our capabilities," Joulwan said. But IFOR could not be
expected to dedicate troops to guarding these sites. "I'd recommend against
that," he said, indicating that this task should be left up to civilian
authorities or the police. The Tribunal's Chief Prosecutor Richard Goldstone
held talks with Joulwan and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on Friday
in a bid to work out the details of IFOR's approach to individuals who have
been indicted for war crimes. Joulwan reiterated NATO's position that while
it was unwilling to get involved in pursuing and hunting down war criminals,
it would seek to cooperate with civilian authorities engaged in this task.
He said names, descriptions and photographs of individuals that have been
indicted had been distributed to his troops. If they came across any of the
wanted men, they were under orders to detain them and hand them over to the
civilian authorities. Joulwan's remarks reflect NATO's determination to
stick to precisely defined military tasks in Bosnia to ensure that it is
ready to leave by the end of the year. "We will not sit passively by and
watch an atrocity take place but we are not serving a police function
either. There is a fine line there," he said. Joulwan's comments came after
he had announced that NATO's mission was firmly on track, 30 days after it
took over authority for ensuring peace from the UN. The operation now moves
into a critical two-week phase during which NATO is tasked with securing
areas of the country which are to be involved in landswaps.