Bosnian Muslims pray near body caskets of their relatives, laid out at a cemetery in the village of Potocari, near the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, July 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Law enforcement authorities in Brazil have arrested a fugitive Bosnian man wanted for war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Brazilian federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Saturday that Nikola Ceranic, 47, had been taken into custody in the city of Indaiatuba, about 45 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo.
The former Yugoslavian police officer is wanted for committing crimes against humanity during the 1992–95 Bosnian conflict.
Interpol had issued a red alert for Ceranic, wanted since 1992.
Neither Interpol nor Brazilian authorities had specific details about the crimes Ceranic is wanted for, nor was it clear how long he had been in Brazil.
Weeks ago, Brazil’s Justice Ministry had referred to the Supreme Court an extradition request for Ceranic made by authorities from Bosnia and Herzegovina, under which an arrest warrant was issued. Under Brazilian law, the Supreme Court is authorized to judge all extradition requests by foreign countries.
The former Republic of Yugoslavia was made up of a multi-ethnic population comprising Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats. In 1991, several self-styled “Serb Autonomous Regions” were declared in areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Following the breaking of news of a number of violent criminal incidents by Serb militants in these regions, including the mass rape of Muslim women, the United Nations eventually established the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1993.
The ICTY has brought charges against individuals who had been involved in genocide and crimes against humanity during the conflict.
The most prominent figures tried at the ICTY for war crimes were Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, and Ratco Mladic.
In one noted incident, the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995, Serb forces under Mladic’s command, killed more than 8,000 Muslims, mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica.
The former Republic of Yugoslavia is now divided into several states, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia.