General Jovan Divjak was arrested tonight in Austria, in compliance with an arrest warrant issued by Serbia.
This is episode two of the ‘Dobrovoljacka ulica’ case. One year ago (1 March 2010) Ejup Ganic was arrested in London at the demand of Serbia, on grounds of his role on the attack of the JNA column (see about this here). His extradition to Serbia was contested in court, and in the end he was released.
If the arrest of Ejup Ganic caused outrage, it was nothing compared with the shock with which the news of Jovan Divjak’s arrest was received in Sarajevo. Jovan Divjak is not only considered a hero for his role in the defence of Sarajevo, he is also loved and respected by everyone for his commitment towards Bosnia as a multinational country and by his post-war philanthropic activities, promoting the access to education of disadvantaged children.
This arrest thus follows a pattern. It comes not only after Ganic’s case, but also after the case of Ilija Jurisic, and the case against a member of the defence forces of Vukovar, Tihomir Purda.That the persons in question were prosecuted for actions taken in defence of their countries against the JNA, the Yugoslav army (and effectively a Serb army since 1991) represents an inversion of the value of justice.
All these cases ended up as an embarrassment for the Serbian judiciary, but still the trend continues. While the Serbian state is unable or unwilling to arrest the greatest war criminal of the Balkans, Ratko Mladic, known to be hiding in Serbia, the Special Prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, has called upon himself the mission of investigating and prosecuting alleged war crimes committed outside Serbia’s borders. This paradox can only be explained not by a commitment towards Justice, but by the importance of Justice as an instrument to mould the memory of the war.